Happy Birthday To Me!

Yes, I woke up this morning and I am still alive and well able to handle reaching a “significant” birthday.

If there was any chance of feeling miserable about getting older then it was soon dispersed by the great person who gave me the latest iPod nano which will fill my day with fun until we go out to celebrate birthday-style tonight.

As a crazed music fanatic, people have found it odd that until today my only portable music system has been a venerable but high quality “discman” cd player which I listened to through a pair of giant headphones.

Now of course I can enter that geeky world of downloading my life-soundtrack. What should I put on it? Your ideas are welcome.

My first, and probably most boring impulse, is to download all the significant classical music written in 1859 which is where I have got to in my pedantic but inspiring trudge through the history of music in chronological order. You can see why I should be a iPod geek – I was born for this.

1859, in case you are interested, includes three operas, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera and Gounod’s Faust, the two Brahms String Quartets and loads of operatic piano transcriptions by Liszt. I will also be able to linger over the great American soprano Jessye Norman in Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder – the perfect accompaniment to any walk in the park.

Then of course there is the “other side” – all those rock and pop classics which have defined my life so far. That should keep me occupied for months from Bob Dylan and Tamla Motown to Foxes! and Trance, to say nothing about Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, David Bowie or The Stone Roses.

The purist in me of course feels that I should download music that I have never really got to grips with – difficult stuff which you would never choose to sit down with. If I had an iPod full of challenging music which I had to listen to whenever I was out and about, it would, or could, open up new worlds for me. Maybe it would just confirm my prejudices though. I used to think that I would grow to like Brahms’ German Requiem but I struggled again with it recently and, sorry Johannes mate, I just find it a morbid bore and can’t wait to hear Verdi’s Requiem again instead.
I think I will get to like Pierre Boulez and Harrison Birtwistle though so I shall give it a go.

So this iPod thingey has made me very happy and just as I type this, a knock on the door has brought me a hamper of caviar and pate with other luxurious indulgences from my friends in Devon which will go down perfectly with the chocolate and toffee birthday cake made for my by Pete, my Iron Shirt partner at the Kungfu Club.

So self-indulgence seems to be the theme for today – and why not!

I had a big birthday party last year which was a lot of fun but wise councils warned me against repeating it whilst I am still getting over my brain haemorrhage which occurred a few weeks after that riotous affair. Instead of a party I shall be having a series of dinners and lunches which will be fun and I could be accused, dare I admit it, of milking this birthday for all it is worth.

Today is the anniversary of the last recklessly boozey night of my life – so far – and as such I am not so much celebrating my new age as the fact that I am still alive when I might not have been and that I am more than a year wiser as a consequent.

In many ways this is Year One. The year when I sat down and looked at my life, recognised the good things and the important things, the people I love and the things I want to do – then to bin the rest. Now that is worth a celebration.

Thanks to all of you, you know who you are, who have stuck with me, taught me and encouraged me this year. I shall be raising my glass to you tonight. Cheers!


  1. Happy birthday man. Milk it for all you're worth. I'll raise a glass to you as well.

    But do me one favor and just listen to How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place, not the whole Brahms Requiem. Nothing morbid there. In fact one of the most glorious choral moments I know.

  2. Thanks William and Anatole!

    @Anatole, Yes, I am being much too sweeping over the Brahms. "How lovely is.." is beautiful I agree. I used to sing it at school and remember it well. There are other bits in the Requiem too which I like but I just find the whole thing a bit of a fuss about nothing.

    Arrogantly, I rather liked the fact that I was still bored by it after all these years! Boredom, I thought, is one of the privileges of childhood.It was rather nice to have it back again!

    Faure made a better of job of an Atheist writing church music I think – and so did Delius. I suppose I wonder why Brahms was writing it at all..a bit like Bach wasting his talents on the wonderful Church Cantatas.

    I move on to the lovely String Serenades soon and then Brahms wakes up for me.

    Cheers gentlemen! Thanks again for the birthday greeting.

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