At the start of this week (on Monday, to be exact) I celebrated my 54th birthday.
It wasn’t that much of a celebration, to be honest. Lousy weather during the day curtailed any thoughts of tripping out somewhere – not unless we (my wife Sue and I, that is) wanted to end up spending money going ‘in’ to some kind of attraction instead of staying ‘out’, which is mostly free. But the evening made up for it – a takeaway pizza (Hawaiian, my favourite) and a bottle of wine (kindly donated as a Christmas present a couple of years ago by two very good friends), a cuddle-up with a couple of funny films on DVD, a gently-snoring dog. Bliss.
The films? San Ferry Ann, an amusing 1965 silent starring Wilfred Brambell, Barbara Windsor, Ron Moody, Graham Stark, a very young Rodney Bewes and various other fine British actors, and a couple of French ones too; and The Marx Brothers’ hilarious Monkey Business, in which Chico’s rubber fingers play the piano so incredibly well, and at the same time to such comic effect, it had Sue gasping at the sheer brilliance. Not to mention Harpo’s amazing facial antics (‘throwing a Gookie’, he describes it in his autobiography, Harpo Speaks, one of my favourite books) and the general brilliance of the script and Groucho’s comic timing, of course. (I always felt sorry for Zeppo – he was very much the romantic lead in most of the films he appeared in, rather than a comic persona like his brothers. Probably why he eventually gave up showbiz and went into ‘proper’ biz. Or perhaps he just hated it like the boys’ other brother, Gummo, did.)
The night before, I’d set up this blog and sat down to write my first ever posting. In it, I speculated on my achievements during the year just gone; which, when I’d added them up, came to so few I ended up blasting off with an extremely tired rant at life, the universe and everything. One of my other favourite books.
Needless to say, I binned the post at the end of it.
Now it’s another insomnia night, consisting of sleep from approx 11.30pm – 3.30am, then wakefulness until probably around 6.00 or 7.00, so I’ve decided to recommence my blogging. And so I’ll begin where I began on Sunday night.
My achievements during my 54th year. Still not many, to be honest. I managed to write a few decent stories, was in at the start of a couple of extremely encouraging writing groups in Barnstaple, as well as still thoroughly enjoying the one we already go to in South Molton, managed to write a whole novel last November during NaNoWriMo (for the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month, a crazy concept where normally reasonably sane people set out to write 50,000 plus words of fiction in 30 days – that’s a hell of a lot, for those who have never tried it). Other than writing, which seems to be my main preoccupation at the moment, I managed to wean myself off three lots of medication, including the anti-depressants I’ve been taking for most of the last 19 years, win a couple of email chess games against my brother (and lose a couple too, to be fair – we’re pretty evenly matched) and mostly keep a civil tongue in my head throughout the course of the year, despite occasionally wanting to explode at the sheer moronic stupidity of some of the people I come into contact with (I won’t elaborate). So not much – but then, possibly more than some people manage, so I shouldn’t really complain.
To the 55th year, then.
Well, it couldn’t have started much better. On Tuesday, the day after my birthday, an unexpected and thrilling phone call to say I’d won second prize in a short story competition being run by Barnstaple library to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the North Devon Biosphere (whatever that is. I confess I hadn’t even heard of it until we received details of the comp, and I still haven’t a clue where it’s located). My first ever writing comp win, and doubly thrilling in that Sue was also a runner up, in her first ever entry into one. Okay, it’s not The Bridport Prize, there were only 30-odd entries – but hell, we’re both damned proud anyway, we still had to beat some very fine writers.
And now I’ve written my first (albeit revamped) blog post, on top of yesterday, managing to launch my also-first website onto an unsuspecting world. www.colin-z-smith.com, if anyone wants to take a look.
Could it be that when I get to this time next year and look back, I’m going to see 12 months of joyous success? Who knows? But please God, it won’t be for the lack of trying.
And speaking of trying – time to go back to bed and attempt to get some more sleep. Night, night.