I refuse to turn 40. Not having it. Nope, no way, fu** off, blah blah blah!!! I’m not approaching my third-of-the-way-life crisis or anything like that, am more than comfortable with the miles on the clock, just that I refuse for this to be it in terms of celebrating in lockdown where I can’t go to a café or a restaurant, see friends (look at me, plural!!), walk outside past 8pm or actually be outside for more than an hour. I shall celebrate this properly at a later date. Still accepting cake, cards and well wishes though!
I just picked up The Body, which sounds far more ominous than intended. However, only a few pages in and I’m basking in the literate glow of Bill Bryson’s latest book, finding fascination from within. After finishing Stephen Fry’s book on Greek Mythology, Mythos, during the week, it’ll be a nice little introspective adventure with Bryon’s usual revelry. In the backlog is Richard Layard’s Happiness and The Spirit Level: Why more Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better (lot of graphs!) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
To blow minds this week, I bored my team at work with a few facts about the magical number 40. Prepare yourselves, as it is assuredly fascinating i.e. using my week of HelloFresh cooking as a backdrop, let’s say it’s a sauté of tedium, a dash of tiresome with just a little drizzle of interest. To start, you nap for forty-winks, there is the Top-40 music charts in the UK and you work a forty-hour week (pardon me, ‘work’). Forty is the only number in English whose letters appear in alphabetical order, which is nice as it’s always been a worry for my OCD, and for those that can never remember the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion, you can draw comfort that both are the same at 40 below i.e. brisk. In religion, forty is often short-hand for ‘a long time’: Jesus fasted for forty days; the flood lasted forty days and nights; Abraham and his people wandered for forty years. UB40 was a band in the UK that made listening to records feel like a long time, and when read aloud, I do be forty, so that’s good too.
My favourite of all though, given the pandemic, is when the bubonic plague gripped Europe during the Middle Ages, ships would be isolated in harbor for forty days before passengers could go ashore. The Italian word for forty is quaranta, hence quarantine. Mind blown, or what? Oh, come on, are you made of stone!? Will look that up in Bill’s book and see if within the composition of the body, ‘stone = XX%’ appears.
In times when people are cursing their misfortune during the pandemic, I am absolutely counting my blessings. Regi asked me yesterday what my highlight would be of my forty years (apart from meeting her) and I’d have to say it’s the love and support from my family and friends, the countless people I’ve met over the years, from all walks of life, a kaleidoscope of cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. I am truly blessed. Thank you for your friendship, it means a great deal more than you probably realise.
Much love, take care, happy quaranta!
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