As one thrashes, kicking and screaming, towards one’s middle years... And I say ‘one’ because today is one of those days when I want to distance myself from my age, and saying ‘I’ in relation to the middle of one’s life, by which one inevitably means, actually, about two-thirds of the way through it, because... you know... that’s what the English language is for, seems far too defeatist...
It’s fine, you can read that sentence again; take a moment and I promise you that it will make sense. Got it? Good.
As one thrashes, kicking and screaming, towards one’s middle years, one inevitably finds that firsts are fewer and further between, but, somehow, also more and less significant. Long gone are the days of the first tooth, first step, first school, first bicycle, first kiss, first long trousers.
Gone are the days of the first job, first house, first marriage, first child, but also the days of the first Ostrich burger, first manicure, first false eyelashes, first really good glass of champagne, first designer dress, first four inch heels, first oyster.
I still enjoy firsts; I still take the opportunity to experience them when I get the chance, and I do still get the chance, but it is the most innocent of these firsts that are often the most pleasurable.
I spent the weekend, as I’m sure you all know, at the Black Library Weekender, an event for fans of the fiction produced by that fine publishing company. The husband has produced a lot of work for the Black Library and some of it has landed him in the New York Times Bestseller lists, so you can see just how popular this stuff is.
Over the past fifteen years I’ve contributed a short story here and there, and I’ve collaborated on some stuff with the husband, but, more than that... much more than that, I’ve made some good friends and some jolly acquaintances along the way, so it was a pleasure to attend the event.
One of the husband’s enduring characters is one Malus Darkblade. There are currently two omnibus editions of the novels he collaborated on with Mike Lee, featuring the dark elf character.
I knew that Darkblade was being reprised, and I knew that the wonderful C.L. Werner was in the frame to work on the next installment of the saga. What I didn’t know, until I got home from the weekender last night, was that he had already produced a short story for one of the special edition event chap books. I shall be sitting down with it this morning, as a special, post-event treat, and, for the fifteen minutes or so that it takes to read it, I will not be answering the door or the phone, or allowing anything to distract me. I can’t wait!
I can also thank Clint (for that’s Mr Werner’s given name) for my latest first. He is a lovely man and an imposing character in his boots and hat, and he has a generous nature, so Clint came to Nottingham bearing gifts. His gift to me was a box of cactus candy! I kid you not, this stuff is actually made from bona fide cactus; it says so right on the list of ingredients. I sat and ate some in bed last night while watching episodes of House. it was good, like heavy, American Turkish delight, and when I’ve eaten it all, which I shall, the box is a natty design, and size and shape, and I shall use it to store things in, so it’s a gift that keeps on giving, and a delightful first that I shall remember for some considerable time to come.
Thank you, Clint; you are a gentleman, sir.