My friends and I are all approaching or have reached the big 50, and I totally agree with the old adage that like good wine, we improve with age. This improvement can be interpreted in numerous ways. Many of my quinquagenarian friends are challenging themselves physically, extremely physically. Having taken part in the Brighton Marathon two or three times, it no longer presents itself as a challenge. Eager to push themselves further, ultra marathons and Iron Man (and woman) triathlons are the new (horrifying) events that they are voluntarily signing up for.
For some however, the improvement has taken on a slightly different guise. They have shown remarkable development in their ability to stay up late and party. It is not their alcohol consumption I admire, it’s their ability at our age to push on through the hangover’s and function as normal human beings the next day/s.
Having been remarkably good at staying up late in our formative years, there was a slump in this particular activity once the majority started producing children. I never belonged to this camp, so my training and dedication to this discipline never really went into decline. I was committed to my practice of late nights, Marlborough Lights and vodka. Physically exhausted and mentally depleted, I had no choice but to announce my retirement in my early 40’s.
I’ve become an early bird with age, productive and energetic upon waking. I like to be in bed by 10pm and asleep by 11pm. Occasionally I can have my arm twisted and happily stay out late drinking Margarita’s and dancing badly. Lost in music, I forget about the impending and inevitable consequences that come with having too much alcohol fuelled fun – see below.
As a rule, if I don’t get eight hours sleep I’m a miserable old bag that not even a double shot of caffeine can cheer up, and nobody deserves to be subjected to that.
I do however have friends who supposedly also need eight hours sleep and rarely get it. Enviably they come alive at 10pm just as I’m putting on the kettle to make a cup of sleepy tea and preparing to hunker down with a book.
Very recently, on an unremarkable Wednesday in April, one of my best friends turned fifty. An unfortunate day of the week for such a momentous birthday to fall on, so one would think. The best you could do would be to mark it with a quiet supper with your family and a handful of close friends? You’d have the big blow out celebration the weekend before or after? Who would consider throwing a fiftieth party on a Wednesday, a school night? In his newly acquired, age-associated wisdom, my friend decided to host a low key celebration in a local pub on a Wednesday night, the invite read drinks and food 7pm-11pm.
I did the 7pm-10pm shift, yes readers, I lifted my bedtime curfew by an hour because he really is a very special friend. As I gathered up my belongings and stuffed one last halloumi fry in my mouth, I suffered no FOMO as I exited the building. I believed the party would be naturally winding down, being a Wednesday.
The next day I dropped the Birthday Boy and his wife a text to thank them for a lovely evening. It was then that I discovered that they had accepted a lock-in at the pub until 2.30am and then escorted a large proportion of the revellers back to theirs to carry on, on a Wednesday! When their eight year old got up for school, she was delighted, yet puzzled, to see various family members and close friends passed out on the sofa’s and floor of her lounge.
I am in no way chastising the dirty stop-outs, I am just in total awe of their stamina and their resilience to their hangovers. They didn’t spend the following day/s feeling utterly dreadful, forced to take to their beds with a litre of diet coke and a cold pizza. Enviably they functioned as perfectly normal human beings.
I am writing this on a Monday morning with a hangover that is deciding whether or not it has had enough of my company, or whether it is going to stick around for another 24 hours. On Saturday I helped another dear friend celebrate her 50th. What started out as a genteel lunch, slowly unravelled into total carnage. Too much rosé, pink champagne and a playlist that had us all up and dancing made sure that Sunday was a total write off. I was nil by mouth, totally light sensitive and had to stay very close to my toilet, the penalty for having too much fun, again.
Surprisingly, I do remember with fondness all the celebrations I have shared over the years. In my mind we partied hard, but to date, the 50th’s are wiping the floor with the 21st’s, 30th’s and 40th’s. What kind of improvements are we going to make over the next ten years? I think I need to start organising a dedicated training regime to prepare me for the Sixtieths. Pass the rosé……
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw
This article also appeared in the Brighton & Hove Independent