Recently I was struck with, what was initially the horror of my mortality, and what is now a sort of schoolgirl reluctance to accept that in this instance, I am no exception.
I think it came as such as a surprise because for the last 20 odd years I’ve been blinkered by the preoccupation of preventing a premature death (my only slip-up here was accidentally swimming with sharks – needless to say, I didn’t do it twice.) So I had never really contemplated a natural one, growing old and slowly having to accept it. It came as quite a shock. But now the shockwaves have passed, I am no longer at the epicentre of this bombshell. Now it’s just something else fucking annoying I have to accept and deal with, like tax or water bills ….
“Really? I have to?”
“Yeah there’s no way out.”
“But people told me I was special.”
“People told Martin Luther King and the cat bin lady they were special. Still got to pay tax.”
“Fuck man. And there isn’t a loop hole out of this whole death thing?”
“No. And if there is, we’re keeping it very quiet.”
It’s not really death I have a problem with and the aging process I can get over, wrinkles are set to trend in 2040.
It’s the frustration of trying to contemplate and understand nothingness, what it is and how my consciousness is going to be nothing.
This thought BLEW MY MIND.
So I’ve decided it’s impossible; as everything I know or everything I can comprehend is something. Even the expanse of space, which I am yet to be introduced to (but I’ve heard is lovely) is something. Nothing is not blackness or silence or white or white noise. It’s nothing. So, learn from my mistakes people, don’t bother trying to contemplate what nothingness is, you wont be able to and your friends will get bored of your mortality crisis very quickly, as it does tend to put a bit of a downer on the evening.
The other day I (wasn’t following my own advice) and was discussing this with a friend. She is quite remarkable and has far more scope on what mortality is than me and it made me realise that this is something that you can only, not necessarily understand, but accept through experience; not through thinking or reading.
This was when I realised, unlike in matters of the heart, in matters of mortality one should never punch above one’s weight. So, with this in mind, I have created some baby steps to help you obtain marital, sorry wrong blog, mortal bliss with a sense of humour (mine failed, and it wasn’t very funny …)
Go out with someone who takes themselves very seriously …
You will never match up to the idea they have of themselves – a nice reminder of your general irrelevance, which is important. This information will be very useful later in life when you’re old and in a nursing home. It wont come as such as surprise when no-one calls and you’re treated like a degenerate.
Turn yourself into a diamond …
I’m aware this is something Paris Hilton might suggest but there is something quite beautiful in making your whole life crystal clear.
WARNING: Do not attempt while alive.
When faced with ‘The Fear’ make sure you’ve taken the acid …
A terrible consequence of thinking about mortality to an unhealthy extent can be as in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ to see people as animals. Though, not lizards or Moray Eels, but seeing people as humans and realising that humans are nothing but animals, no matter how many sun blushed tomatoes you put in your pasta. Public transport becomes a nightmare. If you’re going to freak out and see people as animals make sure you’ve taken some sort of psychedelic first and that it’s not your own psyche. That’s when it really starts to get trippy.
Take a walk through Shoreditch on a Friday night at 2 am – nothing puts life into perspective like that …
This is only advisable once in a stable mental state. If suffering from ‘The Fear’ this could push you over the edge.
N.B Also avoid Clapham Common at this time if suffering from ‘The Fear’.
Go and stay with your French friend in Paris without any moisturizer …
… Your gay french friend. Be you man or woman, he will hand you expensive anti-wrinkle cream. This will instil a fear of smiling in you while you’re there (for fear of losing your lovely eyes to wrinkly flaps of skin) creating an aloof lugubriousness that goes down very well in Paris. It will also remind you, you’re getting old, you hadn’t realized, but you are.
Now, there’s no point getting your knickers in a twist and crying over spilt milk (you messy bitch,) start writing that will and picking out funky funeral songs. I recommend a healthy mix of uplifting soul aka Aretha Franklin and James Brown, then a bit of sad, ‘The Stranglers – Golden Brown’ (It’s about heroin it turns out, but I could’ve just been on holiday) then really bring them dooooown with ‘The Smiths – Well I Wonder.’
Having said this, also balance up how much of a dick you’ll look for playing ‘The Smiths’ at your funeral, I’ve weighed it up and I’m happy with the odds.
N.B. Once home avoid texting your mother asking for best anti-wrinkle recommendations, some things are just too depressing.
Hang around with other people’s children – all of the perspective, none of the mess ….
You realise they aren’t terrifying little aliens but an amalgamation of two people, which is quite lovely (and only slightly odd.) Children are little people who can have a sense of humour. I advise hanging out with 2 years plus, otherwise it’s like talking to a fleshy brick wall. This is only really enjoyable if it’s your fleshy brick wall.
Wear Skulls Don’t Think About Them ….
Thinking about skulls doesn’t get anyone anywhere – unless it’s part of your job, then it has furthered medical science exponentially. Well done you. But if you’re a regular Joe thinking about it too much is not going to make you a happy bunny. I remember watching Scrubs in the throws of my crisis and bursting into tears at the sight of a skeleton. Ridiculous, but true.
Thanks to Alexander McQueen wearing skulls is no longer just for the cheesy rocksters, the punks, the goths. This is now beautifully fashionable. We can throw these fleshless heads around our necks in wonderful colours and patterns, like it’s never going to happen to us. Magnifique!
If skulls on clothing seems like an easy way out to you and you’d like more of a challenge, why not follow the Alice Dellal crew and wear your own. Shave your head. This is one of a couple of areas where men are still ahead of women, they have probably already shaved their heads, but rest assured most of them looked hideous. You look edgy and deadly, but probably should’ve done it 2 years ago. If anyone in Devon’s reading this, now’s the time.
Never believe your own hype, it’s called hubris …
… and it’s only downhill from there. Poor old Edward II had a red hot poker shoved up his bum for being an arrogant arse. Ouch, the irony.
Be a bull in a china shop …
Go to Antiquarius on the Kings Road and fall face first on the floor. Physical pain is an essential reminder of your humanity. At the same time it’s comforting to know you’re not made of glass. So you might as well discover this in a really good china shop. Trust me, I did it on hard, cold terracotta. Ancient china would have softened the blow.
Do a Zeta Jones – marry an over 60 …
You’ll have insider and in-depth knowledge of the aging process – be ahead of the game. Mentally prepare yourself.
Fly alone ….
First Class if you can blag it and while there sipping champagne, contemplating whether the seat is real leather or not, contemplate a crash. Hey, why the fuck not – you got hours to kill. It’s quite stressful and a tad melodramatic but an interesting exercise nonetheless as there will probably at least be 4 or 5 people who spring to mind and spring tears to your eyes that you are not with – if not, where have you been? If so, take heed of this, know how much you love them, and attempt to show them. This will probably only last a day or two before they piss you off, but it’s better than none. The one anomaly in this exercise is if a new “love” pops in to your head. Like a pop-up she/he will in time, when the crash doesn’t happen, probably prove to be irritating. Shut it down and replace it with a more deserving friend.
If your Grandmother’s passed away go to Liberty or somewhere else with a nice parfumerie and spray on some of her perfume …
The only grandmother I knew died when I was 2. But she used to wear Anais, Anais. Recently I sprayed some and instantly hundreds of memories flooded back. None that I could really pin point, but it was a nice hazy place for a few seconds.
Throw salt over your shoulder not a Mulberry bag …
The world and it’s mother has a Mulberry, not everyone has superstition (it’s so exclusive). Superstition I think of like an engrained, sage form of OCD and a more sensible form of religion. It’s a very comforting routine while you’re alive, and it’s logic is that it will aid good fortune and help prevent death (unlike a Mulberry.) However, superstition is not going to help you when you’re dead (unlike religion).
Oh, sorry. My bad, neither’s religion.
Listen to early 90s hip hop ….
Not only will you be down with the kids, but most of these cats have died, giving a certain reverence to those lyrical dons. Biggy saying “fuck all you hoes” suddenly sounds insightful. Sort of.
Keep keepsakes and take photos …
… Throughout your life. Some call it hoarding, some are wrong. It is amazing what you forget. Especially if you like the odd doobster.
Now if we learned anything from Grease, we learned smoking’s cool and John Travolta’s chin is a distraction. But again, that’s distracting from the point. Smoking’s cool not because it’s sticking two fingers up at death, that’s just being ignorant about it. Nothing cool about cancer. Smoking has always been inexplicably cool even when it was thought of as healthy, from peace pipes to Lucky Strikes. It has little to do with the masochism involved and if it does, mo’ fool you.
Paint your nails blue – they’ll look like that one day …
Aesthetically, I’d recommend a deep midnight blue, but for a more realistic un-dead look go for a nice cornflower blue.
Have close male friends and keep them close …
This is obviously alongside your close female friends, but that goes without saying. Male companionship I believe to be very important and sobering (when they’re not pissed.) I have a few male friends that I consider to be very close. These male friends should be kept close throughout your life, no matter what your husband says because they will inevitably out live your marriage and/or your husband.
(Men, I’d say flip reverse this but it doesn’t work. Statistically, your wife will out-live you – so I advise being one of her friends instead…not sure how that works, but not my problem.)
Go for a walk in the park ….
Or preferably the countryside. If I spend too long in London as much as I love it and consider it home, I start to feel claustrophobic. I was listening to Radio 4 the other day (no surprises there) and KT Tunstall explained it better than I can. “I loved growing up where you compare yourself to your landscape; and then now, I live in London where really all you can do is compare yourself to other people, that’s all you can see. And I think that’s really unhealthy, where people just constantly, well, their only mirror is another person. I think it’s great and humbling to be in a landscape that can make you feel small and inconsequential. I think it’s good for you.” I couldn’t agree more KT, and for that I forgive you the spelling of your name.
Turn up to an after, after party totally sober – there you will encounter the walking dead …
Nothing will make you feel more alive.