Countdown To My 50th Birthday – Where’s My Bucket?

Three weeks to go.  In all honesty I don’t know how I got here. One minute I was rolly-pollying down the grassy slopes in the grounds of Sudeley Castle with my little sister, the next sat in a lecture theatre listening to endless lectures on the Romantic Poets in Swansea University.  There I go arranging place cards and menus in a large marquee for cricket hospitality and there I’m lecturing legal interns on marketing.  I remember acting in a French play on the stage at the Sherman Theatre and numerous ballet exams spent worrying if the bun my mum had precariously assembled on the back of my head would hold (it always did).

Linda, Caitlin & Ieuan Hobbis
Me with my two menaces, Caitlin & Ieuan

My memories seem to be a collection of tableaux, variously happy and sad – mostly happy, it has to be said.I remember being an au pair for a French diplomat in Paris when I was 19 and the exhiliration of standing alone on the Champs Elysee thinking that no-one in the World knew where I was at that moment (apart from my employer, of course!). I remember a very grim post break-up holiday in Amalfi where even the splendour of that dramatic stretch of coastline and the scent of plump lemons hanging brazenly from the numerous lemon trees did nothing to dispel my gloom. I remember sweeping into the room at St. David’s Hotel on my wedding day and seeing the happy look on hubby’s face.  Of course I remember the two births (caesarian) of Caitlin and Ieuan and the wonder of achieving something so incredible ever so slightly late.

The kids are intrigued at the moment by their family tree and ask questions constantly about their great grandparents.  They are also struggling to grasp the concept of death.  I tell them “everyone goes up to Mr God”.  Ieuan is adamant that he wants to come back and can’t believe we only get one go – depending on whether you believe in Karma, of course – and actually I think I do.

If there’s just one go on the merry-go-round, I suppose I should finally get round to some sort of bucket list. Every time I do this, though, it looks like a rather dull shopping list. Some of the things have been on it for so long, I no longer really want them, or at least I won’t spend the money, preferring to save it for the kids. The truth is that, the older you get, the more you realise that it’s the experiences in life that matter, rather than things.

I watched Lily Allen on Loose Women today and whilst finding her nonchalence and “I do what I like” attitude deeply irritating (newsflash, if you don’t approve of Miley Cyrus’ antics, don’t take your kids – well, thanks for that insight Lil), part of me still admires someone so firmly lost in her own ‘cult of the self’. Get pizza on your face and a brand new Balenciaga frock?  Heck, why not, says Lily. “That’s what I do”. There’s a fine line though, between indulging your own passions because you want to and the kind of desperate and rather sad attention seeking that Cyrus seems to have been reduced to.  A one-way ticket to Lindsey Lohan-ville.

None of which is getting me anywhere to deciding what I would like as a 50th birthday present or, more importantly setting some sensible mid-life goals.  If anyone would like to share their bucket-lists, I’d be very grateful.  One year, I asked my mother what she would like for her birthday and her response was “a pack of tooth picks and some new rubber gloves”.  She wasn’t even 40 at the time.  I think I’m missing the “present gene”.


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