the stratfordianNext month I will be a birthday boy. I will be 72 years old and like a lot of people my age I will be asking myself…How (the f****) did that happen’?

It has been a funny old life and before you get the wrong idea, I hope it goes on for a little longer because I think I might have just learnt, recently to relax and stop stressing. It will be bloody annoying if after a lifetime of trying to master these skills it was, to end tomorrow.

Anyway, sad to say but most people at my age are orphans. I miss my mum and in a strange way my dad too. He died when I was five so any memories I have of him are more than likely false and taken from hearsay and old photographs. My two ‘stepfathers’ also dead, (all their surnames began with the letter ‘H’ – spooky) are to be honest memories of the fleeting kind, but mum, she’s there, imbedded and long may it last.

Some of the stuff that this birthday boy doesn’t do as much anymore, is dreaming.

Surprisingly, it was only a few years ago that it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to be rich or famous. I admit, I found that hard to take, however, I think I have put that one if not away, certainly to one side. I still dream about success, but it doesn’t play such a large part, awake or asleep anymore. The disappointment has lessened.  In other words, I have stopped striving.

Perhaps my most important achievement, with ‘the strive’ out of the way, is the fact that I think (I hope) that I have been able to take stock of my life sensibly, and not be too hard on myself. Which before I carry on this ramble, I would recommend and advise the same…’Don’t be too hard on yourself’.

I have married twice. Both times to the same lady. We have produced three kids. Two girls and a boy. There have been ups and down with them and family life in general and I still can’t remember their birthdays, but I love them all, no matter what.

There’s another female child somewhere out there who is, I think, in her 50’s. A child from my wild days (that I’m sure we all had) who I have tried to find without success but now realise that perhaps she doesn’t want to be found. I have to admit though, that if she did turn up I, and her half-brother and half-sisters would be chuffed. There’s still time, I guess.

There’s obviously been a lot more to it. My two changes of identity. My years spent in a Moroccan prison and my few months as head of MI6. Obviously some of that I am not allowed to talk about. Just to say it’s been fun. If I did reveal all, I would have to kill you.

Life is weird.

The age-old question…why, looms large in my mind but I ain’t gonna worry. I suspect the answer would blow the top of my head off so, I don’t want to know. I thought I might get an inkling when I was a Priest (C of E) but hell, no.

And death?

Well it’s either a long sleep or place full of ginger-bread houses, unicorns and rainbows, so once again I ain’t gonna worry.

If I have any regrets, it’s the fact that I’ve been too damn lazy to learn to play an instrument. Rosie tells me it’s not too late, but the problem is it’s far too late to become really good at it.

So, there you have it.

A sort of ponder, of which I guess the purpose is to be able to end on some old man type advice and that is…(cliché time), seriously, BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU GOT.

And if you don’t like what you got…It’s never to late to go on the run and change things.

*If you’d like to celebrate my birthday with me, please send all cheques to….

Rosie the poor woman who lives with me found this poem by Charlie Chaplin…it sort of fits…

Charlie Chaplin wrote this poem when he was aged 70.
It’s a great concept of self and worth meditating on .
As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living
against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is Authenticity.
As I began to love myself
I understood how much it can offend somebody
if I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right
and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call this Respect.
As I began to love myself
I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything
that surrounded me
was inviting me to grow.
Today I call this Maturity.
As I began to love myself
I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call this Self-Confidence.
As I began to love myself
I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects
for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,
things I love to do and that make my heart cheer,
and I do them in my own way
and in my own rhythm.
Today I call this Simplicity.
As I began to love myself
I freed myself of anything
that is no good for my health –
food, people, things, situations,
and everything that drew me down
and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is Love of Oneself.
As I began to love myself
I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since
I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is Modesty.
As I began to love myself
I refused to go on living in the past
and worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment,
where everything is happening.
Today I live each day,
day by day,
and I call it Fulfillment.
As I began to love myself
I recognized
that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart,
my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.
We no longer need to fear arguments,
confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide,
and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.
Today I know: This is Life!”

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