I paused to reflect, recently, that I’m 45 years old. It wasn’t a surprise, of course — it’s been true for more than half a year by this point — but it’s something that I hadn’t really stopped to think about at any point before then; there was always something else happening, something getting in the way. Such is life.
But 45 is a curiously important age to me, purely because it’s the age Bill Drummond was when he wrote his book 45, a book that’s been a strange core text of my life since I first picked it up out of curiosity way back in the year 2000. As the title might suggest, it’s a book about being 45 years old, except it’s not, really — it’s a collection of essays written about his past and his present when he was that age, with the idea that his age when writing would inform the work and infuse it with a specific sense of what it meant for him to be that many years old.
(I picked it up, I confess, not because I was a Bill Drummond fan — I wasn’t at the time, this was the book that made that come true — but because the original release of the book was 7 inches square, like a 45RPM single and I liked the design aspect of it. I was shallow then, and I’m shallow still.)
As the world would have it, I had the chance to meet Bill Drummond months after reading the book and becoming fascinated and inspired by him; he was touring the UK as part of some art project and he came to do a talk at this art collective I was part of, at the time. I can remember how excited I was, but also how the 26-year-old me felt about meeting this 45-year-old man — he was actually 48 at the time, I think, but I might be misremembering.
He seemed older, but not old, I remember thinking, in a realization that only someone in their 20s can have. Oh, to have 20 years more experience but not be over the hill! It gave me this strange feeling of security, that I had more time to do what I wanted, whatever that would turn out to be. (I didn’t know yet; I still don’t, arguably.)
And now, here I am, older but not old, myself. It feels fitting, as if I’ve arrived. Although I’m sure I would have imagined myself with more hair at this age.