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50 Not Out

On the face of it things are pretty grim. I’ve turned 50, am divorced, homeless, jobless and bankrupt and find myself living in a foreign country where the natives speak with forked tongue. I smell of cats and could do with a visit to the dentist.

Yeah, I guess I’m quite a catch. Girls, please form an orderly queue, and hey, no pushing at the back.

But these things are relative. Three years ago I was 47, in a high earning job I loathed with a passion, and married to someone, who it transpired didn’t wish to be married to me. As for the foreign country bit, well, as an Englishman who had then lived in the west of Scotland for 17 years, I fancy there aren’t many people who can teach me much about being an outsider.

Thing is, I’m happier now than I’ve been for years.

As I ready myself to move out of my apartment (can’t afford it any more) and wonder casually how I’m going to afford that new pair of shoes I badly need, the one thought that occupies my mind is how lucky I am.

On the surface I appear to have reached the half century mark in appalling disarray, but scratch below it deeply enough and you’ll find a contented soul. Let’s be frank: there are billions of people worse off than me on this planet.

I know a lot of people who moan about how they’d do things differently if they had their chance again in life and here I am with that very opportunity at my feet.

For me the slate is wiped clean and I have a blank canvas on which to scribble a new life. As I stare out at what unknowable length of time I may have left I get to start again with the benefit of 50 years experience behind me. Grim? I think not.

I have friends, and I still have my health. And I have two wonderful grown up daughters who I’m hugely proud of. Yeah, I’m luckier than most.

So, as from tomorrow, my task is to paint that sunset I saw melting over the Alhambra last week. Then I’m going to the pub and spending the last of the money I have.

The fates can take it from there. To paraphrase Lister in Red Dwarf, if any more misfortune comes my way, I'm gonna rip its nipples off.

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