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Time to go?

Grey hair sets the mind wondering... is it time to give up the ghost?

By Richard Herring

It’s been such a busy year, what with script-writing, followed by filming, followed by touring that I have had very limited time to see my friends.

In the last couple of weeks I have caught up with people I haven’t seen for five or six months. Two of them have commented on how grey my hair is, which confirms that all this work has sent my hair white, if not overnight, then pretty quickly.

It’s hard to know whether the stress has been a factor, or whether my hair would have lost its pigment if I’d just been sitting round, scratching my bum.

When I was younger I had one grey hair in my fringe, which I first noticed at University. In those days I would just pull it out and forget about it, thinking it was funny. But slowly and steadily that one has been joined by others.

For a while it was still easy enough to ignore them or pull them out, but over the
last few years that has become too time consuming and if I were to do it now I would be left with strange bald patches, like a doll whose owner has given it an inadvisable hair cut.

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Not that I mind too much. Grey hair is distinguished enough and I don’t think I would ever dream of dyeing it. But it’s another reminder, if one were needed, that I am not getting any younger. In five weeks I will be 40. The good thing about all the work is that I haven’t had time to think about that too much.

Though that all has to change now as I have to start work on my next project, my Edinburgh show, “Oh Fuck, I’m 40!” which is, let’s face it, going to give me plenty of thinking time. I will be thinking of nothing else.

In the dressing room at last night’s gig it struck me that I have in all likelihood lived half of my life now. At the very best I can only cling on to the fact that maybe I’ll live to 120 and so I am only a third of the way through. But a third is a lot. And if my life is a sandwich I have eaten the third with most of the filling in it and am left with two other slices, each more curled up and empty than the last.

I tried to look on the bright side and hoped that there would be some medical advance which might make human life extend to 160 years, but realistically I can’t expect more than that.

So even if science manages to save the world against environmental destruction and prolong life (and those two aims seem mutually exclusive) then I have still lived a quarter of my life. Twenty-five per cent of my time here used up and for what? And to be honest it’s much more likely to be at least fifty per cent.

In fact who am I kidding?

I am more than likely two thirds through my allotted span and there’s a chance that I might in fact be forty forty-oneths in. Or even less. My wrinkled tired grey-haired gonk face stares back at me from the dressing room mirror. When did I grow old?

But I don’t care. For the next five weeks I am going to pretend that I simply have one of those premature ageing diseases and am still 21 and act accordingly. So look out for me at your local disco or roller-blading rink (I will have my Sony Walkman on and be wired for sound and everything).

If you have any pots or ees or cocaines then send them my way cos I am young and cool and that’s the kind of thing I do.

Then on 12 July I will save myself some time and dig a grave and go and lie in it until I pass away. If I could fill it in myself and save someone else the inconvenience then I would do, but some things are beyond my control. In fact if I do that on the 11 July then I might die in my 30s, which at least would be slightly cool and people would think I was young and it was tragic.

If you’re in your 40s then people expect you to keel over. Hopefully the effort of digging a six foot hole, wide enough to accommodate me and my belly will be enough to kill me.

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