To mark the occasion of each birthday, I like to transpose my age numbers because I believe this indicates my real age and shows what kind of year I’m going to have. Since turning 50 it’s been mostly good. I don’t remember much about being 05 apart from the wailing. Being 15 again was a bit awkward with the return to smoking, senseless shagging, and discovery of gin. Turning 25 was great because I could totally relate to my new hire, Renee, who was the same age. Both of us caught about every third word the other said so it was perfect. It goes without saying that 35 was fab because those are the best years of all. And then I hit 54/45 on December 30, 2019. I should have known that the fun would be over in 2020. I remember in 2010 being depressed as hell about being 45 and not really knowing why. I didn’t realize how much Trumpfuckery was looming.
So I suppose what I’m saying is on this basis I don’t have a lot to look forward to for the rest of the decade. Next year I’ll be 65 then it’s a downward slide to 75, 85, 95. But this year is a bonus year, I’m the same age forwards and backwards, I’m neither closer to 50 nor 60 at his point. It feels like I’ve got a year-long reprieve from having to do something terrifying like join a team for the EcoChallenge, but I also don’t yet have to worry about making jam or signing up for Calm.
Instead I thought I’d jot down what I managed to do this year so I can look back on it in a year’s time when I start being 65. I did once try that idea of writing a letter to future me, to be opened on my birthday 12 months later. But I found myself so unbearably smug that I couldn’t do it again.
In January I discovered that I’d need to rewrite Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower yet again. Yes, I learned that Sandy, my birth mother, was not an only child but had instead been one of three siblings who were split up and adopted separately in a horrible turn of events. Happily, it was my cousin who turned up via DNA and her mother/my aunt is still living so we hope to meet up. Sad to tell her that Sandy died in 2014 and there’s currently no info on the third sibling. Still, it makes a good twist for the HBO movie version of Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower. And then to further test my rewriting skills, my mum died in December, so there’s that brilliantly hilarious ending gone too.
As the old saying goes, lose 2 parents and you’re careless. Lose 4 and you must be adopted.
In February, I performed my new solo show, How to Belong, at the FronteraFest Short Fringe at the Hyde Park Theatre. It was a great opportunity to reveal my plans to become an American citizen and to introduce the audience to new words like cockwomble and wankpuffin. I then did it again at the Wild Card Best of Fest show.
In March I joined a new pilates studio because it was 5 minutes walk from the house. A week later the studio closed down because of COVID. It’s now open again and we all wear masks the whole class which is great because the eyes can only convey a certain amount of suffering. The best part of every class is when Erik and Riley pitch up at the end and we all walk/wobble home together.
In the summer I largely stopped running and Erik and I started walking around the neighborhood. We left the house through the garage so that Riley would think we had gone out in the car. Her look of betrayal as she watched us cross the road from her place in the window was so gut wrenching that we had to change our route. On a related note (to walking, not Riley) I bought a lot of new dresses that I cannot fit into on account of being largely larger.
In September I listened to a radio interview with a playwright about her excellent adoption-themed play (shame the interviewer was a knobhead). I sent her a tentative email hoping she wouldn’t think I was weirdo. She lives in England, currently about 5 miles from the village where I grew up, is adopted, writes plays, is almost the same age as me, rides a motorbike, swears at least as much as me, and is funny as fuck. We talk. A lot. It’s rare but great to make new friends at this age because there’s less time to fuck it up and a greater chance that you’ll be able to describe each other as lifelong friends. But I’m still terrified that I’ll screw it up. The last Karen that I was really good friends with never really recovered from the big fight we had over both wanting the same pair of green pinstriped drainpipe jeans from Top Shop.
Also in September I bit the bullet* and became an American citizen. (Biting bullet only required by Texas officials). It was an incredibly lacklustre ceremony in a strip mall next to Home Depot in San Antonio, made better only by the absence of a video message from Trump. Instead, an envelope from him which I have defaced with COCKWOMBLE but will hold off on burning until January 20th. Happily, I was able to vote the fucker out and happily participate with the whole neighbourhood in getting drunk at noon on Saturday, November 7th.
I started playwriting classes in January, June, July, September, and December. I saw most of them through. I wrote three 10-minute plays, a one-act play, two monologues, an audio drama, and a two-minute play. Based on class costs, I think each piece cost me a few hundred dollars. I also researched the hell out of surrogacy as a new play topic and went down a lot of rabbit holes only to realize that a play about surrogate rabbits would be brilliant. It will be ‘Call the Midwife’ crossed with ‘Watership Down’.
Will a 65-year-old me look back on this with envy? Will SurroBunnies win a Tony? See you in 12 months Gallant.