Whither 30?

Whither. It takes me back to university days, that word. It was brand new in my vocabulary back then. We used to use it a lot in pretentious lecture, tutorial or essay titles. It has that “sounds like he knows what he’s talking about” feeling to it.

A few days ago, it suddenly dawned on me that I’m now the wrong side of mid-twenties, and beyond that point is 30. Now I’ve tried in the past to ignore these arbitrary age distinctions, but something peculiar about this age struck me really hard.

I think the reason is that one of my earliest memories was of my mum being 30. I remember her birthday party, as it were. I remember her wearing a big novelty badge with 30 on it. In fact, it’s still in one of the drawers somewhere at home. I must have been 7 at the time, and marvelling at how old my mum was. 30! It just amazed me, in the way things do when you’re young.

It is scary to be fast approaching this age myself. There are still a good few years to go, but it shocks me to think that if things don’t go so well, I could turn 30 with no further developments in my life. By the time my mum was 30, she’d had three children, with a fourth to follow the next year. She’d been happily married for 10 years, and was well on the property ladder, with another step up to go a few years ahead.

Comparisons between one generation and the other are never particularly fair, but none more so than now. Yes, the 80s recessions were not particularly nice either, but this one seems to be going on and one with no obvious end in sight after three years. I have a brother who is jobless, and cannot find anything, and another brother who faces an uncertain future if he can’t get the grades for university. My younger sister is not far behind.

My elder sister is doing OK, though. At last. She’s finally found someone nice, and I now have a brother-in-law. Imminently, there will also be a new niece or nephew. I’m hoping its a nephew, but I know my sister wants a girl! They’ve also just moved into their first home, their first step on the property ladder. I lent them some money to make it happen. Better to bring some happiness to someone, rather than it sitting in my bank account, earning less interest than inflation can erode it.

I wish I could apply the same logic to me. Maybe the reason I’m so unhappy, and so lonely, is I just don’t want to spend money. You gotta speculate to accumulate, they say. Apparently.

Only one thing I can do. Gotta keep plugging away…



It’s been a busy couple of weeks, as always at the moment. I’m doing very well in my business, and this is excellent. My only complaint is just how hard I’m having to work, but it, hopefully, will all be worth it in the long run.

Right now I am trying to diversify the business, through a fairly useful business contact who has become more of a friend. We have a couple of irons in the fire, and if any of them pay off, it will result in me being able to professionalise the business. Take it into a proper office, a proper workshop, and even be able to employ someone.

That would be good. I’d really value being able to do that. Not that I want to manage people, but I think knowing that I have been successful enough to support other people, as well as myself comfortably, is a real sign of progress, and of ambition for the future.

To get there, we need a bit more luck. I’m not doing too badly at the moment though. You do make some of your own luck by how hard you work, but there is inevitably an element that just comes about by being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people to be in with a shot. The world runs on the relationships between people, and it is foolish to ignore that. One of the things I’ve learned since being a young ‘un.

At the other end of life though, I feel worse than ever. Socially my life is crap. Here in The House – never a home – the relationship with my housemate is dire. We just don’t have any normal social conversation. We don’t really share any interests. We share some work small talk, but nothing more. Fortunately, because of his new job, he’s only here at weekends and maybe a couple of hours in the evening. And some weekends, I’m not here, and other weekends he’s not here. It makes it liveable.

But I do have to find my own place. That will finally give my own true independence, and I don’t have to have a brain filled with bitching and moaning about the way others fail to do this, or do that, which inevitably pisses me off.

Maybe the plan will all come together if I can just get the work side of my life signed off.

I’ve been saying this since I was in school. Work first, then social life.

I’m starting to lose a bit of faith in that one…


I’ve always had a rather odd relationship with the world’s most popular drug. As a youth, I used to enjoy nothing more than coming home from school and making myself a cup of tea. And maybe a crafty bowl of cereal…

Then there would be the social teas. The tea after tea. Or dinner, as some people call it. And then the late night tea, perhaps taken around 9-10pm, to round the day off.

But then when I started my first proper job, I got a sickener of it. While I was there, the routine was TEA TEA TEA. In other words, the job was so long and monotonous with its eight-hour shifts with no breaks, that the only way to break it up into manageable portions was with a distraction. The only such distractions were a) the radio (forever tuned to some dance music shit); and b) TEA

So brewing up became a very common occurrence. And so did going the toilet. For all that liquid, and all that mildly diuretic caffeine has to go somewhere.

Until the day I decided I’d had enough. No more tea. And no more coffee either. It was the only way to stop it. It didn’t even taste nice, I realised. I was basically drinking a cup of hot, heavily diluted milk.

So all of a sudden that took me off tea duty. Not just at work, but at home. Now the regular cups of tea were gone. For a few weeks, I battled the most horrible cravings for it. Especially after a meal, my brain would be saying TEA TEA TEA. I had to resist. It was the only way to rid myself of this rather odd craving. I viewed it as a weakness to be removed.

In the end, the feelings subsided. At last, I was free. One day I suddenly noticed that I was no longer craving it. And for the follow six years or so, a cup of tea or coffee didn’t pass my lips.

Several years later, in university, I relented. One of my housemates liked to do the social coffee thing. I felt I was missing out, so joined in. I was then amazed by the rush the caffeine gave to me, after years of, presumably, becoming sensitised to it again. But still I resisted tea. It never really had any taste of anything remotely interesting.

This was still extremely irregular. Maybe one cup of coffee every month. I could still claim “I don’t drink tea or coffee” with a straight face.

Then when I started working in my current job, the one I made for myself, things changed again. Regular house visits, and telling people I don’t drink tea or coffee and trying to explain it became a bit of a chore. Besides, the strategy of sending someone away to make a drink is very useful for getting on with the job without being constantly watched over like a hawk…

So I relented. And as I got busier and busier, one tea a week became three, became five. Coffees thrown in there too for good measure. There was one particular client I visited who I would class as a chain tea-drinker. One cup would finish, and the kettle would be on for the next.

Now I am definitely back in the position of caffeine addiction. So much so that I feel I’m now dependent on it if I want to stay reasonably useful. I have noticed that if I don’t do any callouts, and therefore drink no tea, and deliberately abstain from making myself a cup, I get the most awful headaches. Withdrawal symptoms. Oddly, I don’t remember ever suffering them when I first gave up caffeine. If I had, I may never have quit in the first place.

Sometimes I ride them out, determined to win the battle in my body. But others, I have to relent.

Caffeine is here to stay. It’s just as well (some) coffees taste so nice that they justify the addiction…