I just turned 32.
This is a strange age. It’s the age where people start dying; or at least the age where it starts to become less of a surprise when your friends and acquaintances keel over like pit canaries.
‘They were so… young,’ we say, not quite believing the words as they stagger uncertainly from our lips. It’s almost framed as a question. ‘They were so… young?’
I’ve always been certain that a heart attack will serve as the final sentence in the book of my life. I’m not psychic: just Scottish. At death, most pasty-skinned Celts will find the Grim Reaper holding their engorged heart in his bony hand, bouncing it like a blood-filled happy-sack as he points to the fat-smeared hole in their chest and says: ‘Looking for this, you fat bastard?’ Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind. Jamie Andrew’s heart is destined to burst like a rotten peach under the treads of a tank.
I become filled with anxiety when I hear of a celebrity dying in their early 30s. As if their premature death somehow makes my own more likely. Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger: they both gave me palpitations. When a celebrity dies young I always chant inside my head ‘Please be drugs, please be drugs, please be drugs, please be drugs,’ and when it’s drugs I fist the air and shout ‘YES!!’ Which is pretty horrible of me, but then I never claimed to be anything other than a deeply, deeply horrible human being. They die of drugs, I don’t die of a heart attack. Yet. That’s the deal.
I guess I am still young, though. I look young, so I’m told, despite the rainforests of hair that seem to sprout from every available orifice. What’s with that? So much hair grows from my ears that I could pleat it and join Aswad. No joke. Bed bugs could abseil from my ear lobe down to my shoulder. This shouldn’t happen until I’m in my sixties or something, right? I don’t want to look like my grandfather just yet. Well, he’s dead, so of course I don’t want to look like him. I meant I don’t want to look like he did during his twilight years. Not at 32, anyway. His ears looked like they had boom mikes coming out of them. And the ears themselves were all waxy and gnarly, making him look like the head Ferengi from Star Trek.
My nose is no different, over-abundance-of-hair-wise. I always notice the hairs in the mirror when I’m driving, and then spend about five minutes yanking what look like wires from my nostrils. So if you’re on the roads in Falkirk, look out for a big tall guy clawing at his face and screaming in horror at his reflection: that’ll be me. So much hair dangles from my nose that it looks like a tarantula is trying to escape from my face. Honestly, it’s like steel wool. I could headbutt a pot and scour it at the same time.
Which is why my mother gave me an electric nose-and-ear-hair remover for my birthday. No shit. She did. And do you know what the worst thing is? I was grateful. It’s something I need. At 32? Next year it’ll be a Noel Edmonds’ sweater and a brochure for a SAGA holiday. And bring on the socks and pants. I love getting socks and pants now. I wish I’d been more grateful to my grandparents when I was younger, and hadn’t just sneered when I ripped open the wrapping paper to find yet another 5-pack of Asda’s-own boxer shorts. I didn’t realise what a valuable commodity they were back then. Thank you, grandma and grandpa (X2). I sometimes think they were trying to tell me, in some hush-hush yet none-too-subtle grandparent code, that growing old is pants. I think they were on to something.
Anyway, here’s to the next 32. Well… maybe.