I’m well into the second half of this crazy game and I wonder if I have any goals left in me. Thoughts of all the things I haven’t done rush around my head like commuters. I have yet to circle the world in a hot air balloon, probably best to leave that one alone as I don’t like heights. I have never climbed Mount Everest, a bit too cold and energetic for my taste.
I crave a harum-scarum existence complete with nubile women and financed by gem smuggling, well all right, mea culpa and all that, I must confess, I did that already. Mind you it was a long time ago and the memories of the events are hazy, so do they still count?
I always wanted to drive across Europe in a two door convertible sports car but alas there would be nowhere for the children to sit. So this is it I suppose, life meandering its natural course. Waking at dawn whether I want to or not, a double espresso and a cigarette for breakfast. Crumbs and chocolate spread on my keyboard put there by my children whilst I pretend I don’t have a hangover. So is this it?
Thailand has given me a good if somewhat unusual incarnation. Several incarnations, should the truth be told, so why am I whinging? It’s as if I feel you are supposed to at my age. My vices have become my habits and alcohol’s soft middle-age is far too comfortable to believe it is good for me. I look into my whisky soda and feel like there should be an answer staring back at me. Another great adventure before the train pulls into the last station.
The advice is not forthcoming so I order another drink instead. Damien, the pub landlord not the little boy in The Omen, asks me how the new book is going and I lie fluently even though I haven’t written a word in almost two weeks. Hemingway’s is my local pub but I wonder if I am really there hoping for some epiphany from the old man himself. Maybe I should have gone to Cuba instead.
I like Hemingway’s. It is a colonial affair with ceiling fans and lots of wood. The place reminds me of Bangkok in the seventies and eighties when all the best places were old colonial style houses with gardens and places to park your car. Not that I drive there, I always walk now. In the spirit of my new found respectability I no longer drink and drive.
We once found a teetotaller in Hemingway’s, much to our surprise, and paid him every night to stagger to his car and burn rubber as he left the car park on his way up the lane to Sukhumvit Road. He was our designated decoy and kept the police busy for a while. He is no longer a teetotaller and now my drinking companions have to navigate the police checkpoints unaided. I doubt we were the cause of his tumble from the wagon. It was a woman I believe. It usually is.
Middle-aged rebellion is on the verge of defeat as I find myself seduced by Hemingway’s friendly staff, Cuban fare, colonial atmosphere and large verandahs where I can smoke one of Cuba’s finest cigars. Damien has told me I can write in their second floor library when it is finished and open for business. The armchairs are tempting and maybe it is the nudge I need to get my second book back on track. Maybe the ghost of Ernest Hemingway will make an appearance in the library one afternoon and shame me into writer’s discipline.
Tomorrow, when I set forth into the world, I can turn right in search of life’s great adventure, or turn left and take a stroll to Hemingway’s. My money’s on Hemingway’s but you never know.