What’s Another Year? The Big Day Came And Went And I’m Still Here

First published in The Irish Daily Mail
March 29th 2013 Article written by: Shay HealyShay at 70-page-001

The Article:

So here I am…70 years old …shell-shocked and unbelieving…. still gazing at the world through the eyes of a 29 year old “boy”…until I realise that the humpy…grey haired figure reflected in the shop window…is me…and having achieved the biblical target of three score and ten…as the great skier Franz Klammer once said… “it’s all downhill from here.”

Its galling ….an outrage to have to acknowledge that the number of days that lie ahead of me…is less than what’s behind me… still so much to do… but running out of time.

I don’t know if its just me…but to borrow an apt American phrase…old age sucks… and if you let it rule you….you become a dry husk…whose pension becomes more important than passion…

I’m fond of romantic passion at 70…and I am even fonder of artistic passion …having long ago accepted the vicissitudes that go with choosing to live the life of a dilettante… without the means to support it…and now…on this cold Spring morning… to be actively bandying about words like “pension” and “retirement” induces a feeling of cold…clammy hands clutching at my heart …I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose the desire to write every day…or to think that I might never go to another gig… where the music is so loud that it makes my ears bleed….yes..I have tinnitus in both ears.

Going to gigs isn’t that easy for a seventy-year old…the punters look at you like you’re a member of the Drug Squad…eavesdropping and spying on them… they eye you up and down… you can feel them noting the skinny jeans and the leather jacket…and you can tell they think young mens’ clothes look stupid on the 70 year old man with the long face…me

When I was starting into my teens in the 50s…I used to wonder would I make it as far as the year 2000…I calculated I would be fifty eight when and if I reached the millennium….back then it seemed impossibly far into the future…and then suddenly one day it was the first of January 2000…I reset my target as the London Olympics in 2012…and now I want to survive until the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising in 2016…just to see if Sinn Fein can resist claiming once again to be the legitimate government of the 26 Counties.

Apart from that….frankly…my life plan is to wake up tomorrow morning.… and my business plan is to buy an extra Quickpick in the Lotto. That’s enough ambition for any seventy year old …as long as John Simpson’s nightmare doesn’t butt into your life.

Simpson… the epitome of English sang froid on television’s battlefields….declared this week that he would commit suicide… rather than be a “gibbering idiot” in the presence of his six year old son…. John should have course have thought about that before he went ahead and had a son… now he’s scared of dementia…you are not alone John.. we’re all scared of dementia …Parkinson’s Disease has an ugly way of turning into the cul-de-sac of dementia…so because of my ten years of Parkinson’s to date…I fear it acutely….but I draw some comfort from the definition of Irish Alzheimers…where you forget everything except the grudge.

There’s a numerical thing going on in my family which always gives me pause for reflection… my grandson…who no doubt ….at times… has thought of me as a gibbering idiot…will be 20 next Sunday…my youngest son was 40 last Friday…and I am 70 today…and those twenty and thirty year gaps will always be constant…which appeals to me…because for some bizarre reason in my seventieth year I find myself grappling with quantum mechanics trigonometry and the Higgs Boson particle.

Perhaps I am subconsciously trying to comprehend the sort of environment I might be going to…if I believed in life after death…which I don’t… I’m just a bit of stardust and that’s what I’ll return to being …which leads to a very good question that has never been satisfactorily answered…what if this IS the after-life?….besides the notion of eternity doesn’t appeal to me… it sounds a bit like being a civil servant for a very long time.

Do you remember when you were young and you might read a story about a 48 year old man who had been killed by a bus… you think to yourself….he got a reasonable innings…and then 50 comes on from the Nursery End…bowls a few bouncers at your mortality …undermines your confidence in the certainties that have been the gospel of your youth.

Now you’re 60 and life is up for grabs… but there are men starting to falling left and right of you…the ­fat Elvis is no consolation to the obese anymore…Rory’s gone…and Philo’s gone…the vagabond from Crumlin who dared to answer Jîmi Hendrix’s alluring ­ challenge “are you­­ experienced?”…but who in his quest to emulate his hero…ventured that little bit too close to the edge and tumbled into a vortex of drink and drugs….a martyr to rock n‘ roll.

One of my life’s great pleasures at 70 is reading the death notices and not seeing your name listed.… I also like to point out to the under-30s how un-rock ‘n roll they are….that today’s pub gigs are conducted in sterile…smoke-free rooms…under sanitary conditions that would do justice to a hospital … anathema to those of us who carry the memory of a proper gig in our heads….a gig where you pulled open the door to be assailed by a fog of blue-grey cigarette smoke…a blast of body heat…the smell of cheap perfume….a glimpse of the drummer surreptitiously knocking back shots of tequila…the clinking of glasses….the pounding music…and the look of rapture on the faces of girls wearing bright red lipstick.

Lying in bed this morning…I did a quick inventory on my 70 year old body…removed and missing are my tonsils…my appendix and my gall-bladder…everything else appears to be in the right place… a fair bit of mysterious jostling goes on from time to time along my alimentary canal…it feels like my organs are fighting for space….my eyes are getting a bit rheumy…and losing my four pairs of glasses simultaneously… …ranks right up there with Mrs. Brown for irritation …my jug ears are not great either…the tester from the hearing aid company shrugged his shoulders and said… “there’s nothing I can do for you”… and then there’s my neck…which has been compared to Ruby Walsh’s nether regions… medically… once or twice a week… my spine delights in promoting an old water-skiing injury to my neck …as Pain Of The Day.

My heart is generally healthy… and more importantly…its in the right place…my belly and I have achieved a reasonable rapprochement in relation to food… a one reflux tablet compromise…. moving swiftly along….my prostate is the size of a watermelon….I carry disposable catheters because my bladder packs up on a regular basis… and the doctor doing the ultrasound informs me there are fifty shades of grey in my liver .

And so… finally …I get to my back …the part of me that could turn my seventies into a nightmare… my last scan revealed arthritis of the facet joint… scoliosis… narrowing of the nerve canals and disc degeneration….the consultant told me he could remove my lowest rib and stop it chafing on my hip!..I declined…too corny in a biblical way… instead…I have enrolled the constant ache as my partner and travelling companion…as we continue on with Project Duck Hunt-Try Every Quack in Town.

More than anything…today I will be actively missing my son… and our two grandchildren who are in Sydney …I’ll hug my wife… who has organized a party for me… and give thanks that we still have two grandchildren here… a four year old and a twenty year old.

A couple of days ago, the 20 year old asked me… ”can I play few songs at your party tonight?”…my heart skipped a beat …miraculously the music is in him …this young man who blind-sided us all by electing to study Economics!…where did that come from?…not from me.

But he did get the music…and the anticipation of him singing and playing tonight…to a tough crowd of musos… is an unexpected 70th birthday present that is beyond value.


About shayhealyblog

Shay Healy is a multi-media artist from Dublin Ireland, who has been in the music business all his life. His song “What’s Another Year”sung by Johnny Logan won the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. He has written two musicals, The Knowledge and The Wiremen. As a television host, Shay is famous for a cult chat show, Nighthawks and on the other side of the camera, he has made over 12 documentary films, including “The Rocker-A Portrait of Phil Lynott” ,“First Lady”-A Portrait of Tammy Wynette ” and “Roy Rogers-King of The Cowboys. The Danny Boy Triangle (3 Books in 1) is now available to buy on Amazon
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