Hitting my half century, back in 2008, was a significant moment. Not so much for the age itself – since I don’t set a great deal of store on that! – as for the turning points on my life’s wheel which it represented.
The night of my fiftieth, I was clad in a gauze skirt (pinkish) over a pink top and fluorescent pink DMs – and, later in the evening, a flowing gown and equally liquid-looking long blonde tresses!
You see, on the night of my fiftieth, I was playing Fairy Bubblegum – and her aristocratic alter ego whose name, sadly, now escapes me! – in the local pantomime, ‘Dobbin of Sherwood.‘ At the end, and to my delight, I was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a card signed by the rest of the cast.
But the months leading up to this event – and those which followed on from it – changed the course of my life and, ultimately, saw me where I am now. In early June 2007, my father died; on the way back from Oxford to help my mother and siblings plan the funeral, someone drove into the back of, and totalled, my car; a family feud erupted at the end of June, and, on July 7th, I was so badly bitten by a German Shepherd dog that I need five stitches and was hospitalised for twenty-four hours.
I was bitten in the groin. It just missed the Femoral Artery. Dolorous Blow or what? And certainly, the months and years that followed plunged me into my own Wasteland.
But, with all the wounds afflicting me and mine, buds and new beginnings showed their furry loveliness upon the stark branches of my extended Winter.
In September 2007, I joined the SOL Lodge, about which I have written before, and this opened up a whole amazing new world for me. In that month also, when I auditioned for, and got, the part of the eccentric, loud Fairy Bubblegum (nothing like the real me, of course!), I met a fellow thespian, unknown to me up till that point, who has, in subsequent years become, along with a non-acting spouse, one of my closest friends.
The events of that ghastly Summer of 2007 triggered many shock waves which cut a swathe through the life I thought I was going to lead ad infinitum – and showed me the vast cracks in the foundations of my emotional universe.
So, reaching fifty was a time of enormous vulnerability and pain and fear. I was at a crossroads, in terms of my job, my marriage, my friends and my own spirit. I knew that I had come to the end of one path – but it took me a good few years to take the plunge and strike off up another track.
We are none of us promised longevity. But, for all that, I can remember saying to myself, on January 9th 2008, ‘Do I really want to spend the next half century of my life in this blighted Wasteland?’
There was a sense of urgency about this question which had been lacking when I reached my quarter century in 1983, I suppose because more was at stake and, statistically, I was nearer grave than groove. Not, you understand, that I ever intend to stop the latter: Will, I trow, still be grooving as I slip, tumble, crowd-surge or tap dance my way into the grave!
Yes, fifty was a time of unblocking, of hauling the debris out from between the spokes of this incarnation’s wheel so that it could turn healthily once more. It was a year in which I finally said, about divers matters, ‘This is not right!’ Although the power and will-to-act came later, the embryonic form of where I am now started the year I turned half a hundred!
When I reached that momentous age, I felt frumpy, fragile and full of fear-of-fifty!
Now, at fifty-eight, considerably greyer (under the orange!) and more wrinkled – though slimmer and, ironically, prettier (not difficult!) – I feel, as the image below says, Fun, Foxy and Fifty(ish!)…