When you hate your job as much as I hate mine, four days away from it make for a very therapeutic break indeed. This Easter was improved further by the occasion of my 46th birthday on Saturday. What this meant was a day free from compromise, and free from living up to the expectations of, or commitments towards other people. I didn't celebrate with a gram of cocaine and brace of courtesans, but instead spent the day with Helen, who I think was bemused at my paucity of indulgent ambition.
She brought me some smashing gifts from herself and her family in bed. How well they know me. If you ever chanced upon a high visibility cycling jacker, packet of liquorice allsorts, book on mindfulness, and yoga brick, you'd have a pretty good idea I was in the vicinity. Later, instead of committing to a grand day out in our walking boots, we tried some gentle urban exploration. A great fringe benefit of Green activism is that I have a much stronger sense of personal geography, and relish filling in the gaps on my mental map of the city I live in. We took woodland paths and local streets that don't lead anywhere, and I found rewarding new vistas less than ten minutes from home.
We were back on familiar birthday territory by the evening, although I had refused to book a restaurant in advance. I hazarded the opinion that I'd be comfortable somewhere that Frasier's Dad, Martin Crane would be, so we went where the diners were interesting, the food unpretentious, and the conversation unstilted. Then home, where, folk wisdom has it, married women do what their husbands fantasise about for the rest of the year with them. In my case, this is watching a complete early Doctor Who adventure. I chose "The Daemons", which is my earliest memory of the programme, from 1971, and it went down well, despite Helen's initial horror that it comprised five episodes.
Today is the 20th anniversary of John Major's election win, and my thoughts are cast back to who I was and what I was doing in Spring 1992. On my birthday, I went to London to see Spinal Tap play a low-profile afternoon club gig, and I was reading Iain Banks' "The Crow Road". I was just embarking on a doomed, but fleetingly morale-boosting, dalliance, and rebuilding my self-confidence after having been bullied into leaving my job the previous Autumn. I think I would quite like my 26-year-old self, but oh, how I envy him his free time, and rather wish he could have applied himself more.
20 years later, I am still reading Iain Banks, specifically, his latest, "Stonemouth". I still care enough about music to be making trips to London to see one-off shows. And Helen and I have been together for twelve years, so I'm glad I wasn't put off looking for companionship. What's changed? Well, I have almost no spare time. I am making up for the lost time of my youth and trying to catch up and achieve what I realise I should have done earlier. That's why Easter feels special. I've even got time to write a blog entry.