Catboy on the 2015 that was
I have no idea what happened to 2015. It’s gone. It’s finished. It’ll never happen again. And I think I missed it. I was there. There’s no doubting that. I just don’t remember anything about it.
What I do remember is sitting down at the end of 2014 to write for this fine publication, and then I was suddenly here, sitting in my pyjamas with a head full of mashed potato where a brain once lived, and with absolutely no memory of the past year.
I’m taken back to family gatherings I’ve attended over the years. There’s always an old bloke sitting in a chair in the corner, looking for all intents and purposes like one of those living statue buskers you see in Covent Garden. The party carries on around him and he’s largely left alone, aside from the occasional token salutation or offer of a drink.
I‘ve watched these men over the years, normally a great-grandfather or mysterious uncle, with wonder and awe. The events were often in their own homes, but they were steadfast in their refusal to acknowledge what was happening around them. They showed little to no emotion, and the other 20 or so people around them seemed to have a collective understanding that that was just fine.
The thing is, these men have always been of an advanced age. Many had been through one or two World Wars. Most had spent the rest of their working lives doing “proper” men’s work, involving molten steel, heavy things, and dirt. They’ve seen and done things that justify sitting in a corner looking contemplative for the duration of their twilight years.
I feel like I’m there now, at 44. Maybe it’s happening to me earlier because of the accelerated lifestyle we all live. Maybe it’s technology. Maybe it’s never being able to switch off thanks to the phone-shaped office in my pocket. Maybe the four hours worth of school runs each afternoon are my namby-pamby version of Dunkirk.
This might sound like depression or a cry for help, but don’t be alarmed, it isn’t. Even my wife thinks it’s something else. She asked me the other day if I had “just settled” for this life. It broke my heart. I have settled, but not in the sense of, “Oh well… this is the best I’ll get.” I’ve settled because I’m happy. My wife also thinks I’m being grumpy and quiet when we have people over but I’m not.
Again, I’m just settled. I might look like I’m staring at a television I can’t hear while simultaneously ignoring everything that’s happening around me, but actually, I’m taking the situation in, and feeling content and extremely satisfied. I’ve earned this quiet sit-down in the middle of this raucous party. I did the work, drove the kids around, fixed things, paid the rent, paid the bills, bought the food, threw open my doors and I’m very pleased it’s being enjoyed by my healthy and happy family and friends, all of whom I love dearly. Just because I refuse to join in with the inevitable Uptown Funk dance-a-thon doesn’t mean I’m not having a good time. It just means I’m content to sit in satisfied silence.
Either that or I’m racking my brain trying to remember at least one thing I did in 2015.