10 signs of mid-life crisis
problems and the urge to
buy a big motorbike? Yes,
its the mid-life crisis – and
it could happen to you, says
farmer Charlie Flindt
ONE day last winter, I took a break from my desperate attempts to get some seed in the ground and had a days shooting, courtesy of my vet (I always suspected his bills were too high.)
Anyway, on one drive, I was the walking gun; it wasnt the easiest of drives, what with the horizontal sleet and the ankle deep mud. Just to liven things up, we had to cross a barbed-wire fence. The closest beater kindly took my gun and held the top strand down for me, while I elegantly threw a leg over the fence and all but went full length in the mud.
"Im getting too old for this," I groaned, as he gave me back my trusty bottom-of-the-range Beretta.
"Youre getting too old?" he said. "Im 70 this month. You wait till youre my age!"
He didnt look 70. Tall, thin and healthy, I would have put him at about 55. "Perhaps you can help me," I said. "Ive got my mid-life crisis coming up this year. Any tips on what to look out for?"
"Ah well," he smiled. "We didnt have them in our day. At least, not like you do nowadays." And with this enigmatic response, he headed off back into the bushes.
Ill be 40 this year (Oct 8, since you ask – a tenner on my tab at the Jolly Flowerpots will suffice) and so Im getting all ready for the mlc.
Ive been doing some research on what to look out for among my older and wiser friends, and here are the 10 most likely signs:
1. Recreating ones youth
Apparently you get the urge to rush out and buy a motorbike or a sports car to recreate those distant carefree days. Actually, a few weeks in my teens struggling to persuade a Puch 50cc to haul 16 stone up the hills of Hampshire hardly qualified me as a biker. All it did was scare the living daylights out of me as lorries and buses all but pushed me into the hedges. We had a Mazda sports car, pre-children and pre-farming doldrums, but can anyone name the last day suitable for driving with the roof down? Doesnt interest me now.
2. Temptations of the flesh
Perhaps Ill run off with a younger woman, although the chances of finding another girl who fancies me are astronomically small. I still count my blessings at finding one. And I have to face the fact that I am not the Adonis I once was (see point 4). No, no chance of this happening. A female mlc victim complained of not being eyed up in the street any more. How Id love to be eyed up in the street. "With your face, youll never need a contraceptive," I was once told at school.
3. Deep introspection
Mlc sufferers often decide that they must find themselves in the tranquillity of islands in the Far East. I cant believe that will happen – anyone who has done a weeks continuous ploughing with just the seagulls for company has had quite enough tranquillity in which to find themselves.
4. Bits of your body stop working
Ah, now this one is true, especially in the digestive department! Ive already found that what goes in one end is no longer processed and cleared out uncomplainingly at the other end. And all those years of front-row work are now coming home to roost. A gentle sneeze or a bump when ploughing (see point 3) can leave me with a knackered neck for three days. My ribs hurt, my hips creak and my knees crack. I can certainly now see the appeal of loading the seed drill direct from half-ton bags, rather than manhandling hundredweights all day.
5. Rampant hypochondria
(See point 4)
My long-suffering doctor accused me of a bad case of cyberchondria, which is looking up symptoms on the internet and becoming convinced that all possible diagnoses apply. Hes right on that one; I found out all about it on the web.
6. Blaming your parents
This one is true too. Its easy to start thinking: "If only my parents hadnt done this" or "Why didnt they encourage me to do that?" or "Why on earth didnt they send me to drama school to keep me away from farming?" Of course, now that Im a parent, theres no way that Ill make any similar mistakes. No way at all!
7. Doing exactly what your parents did
(See point 6)
My six-year-old watched me taking pills out of the medicine cabinet (see points 4 and 5) and asked me why. Suddenly I was six again, and it was my father taking the pills out of the same cabinet. I always swore that Id never, ever say "Stop crying or Ill give you something to cry about!" That resolution was broken ages ago.
8. Changing radio station
Another accurate sign. During those long hours in the tractor cab Ive started relaxing into Radio 2 and BBC Local Radio (mlc sign number 8a: shouting at the radio or television.) I havent abandoned Radio 1 completely because most of the hits of my youth are now being shamelessly recycled, so its quite nostalgic to hear them all again.
9. Shock at the age of top people
This is a bit like how policemen look younger. Its the feeling you get when you hear that the new tree-hugging, touchy-feely head of the National Trust is in her early 40s. Or when you read of a top City mover and shaker and realise that you remember bullying him mercilessly when he was a junior at school. It usually provokes a bout of point 6.
10. Compiling lists
Apparently some people start compiling lists, such as a list of things to watch out for when approaching a mlc. What a preposterous idea! Ill never fall into that trap.