I’ve Bought A Keyboard But It Might Be Quite A While Before I’m The Next Elton John.

This week, I finally caved into a voice that has been intermittently whispering into my ear for the last two years. A voice that has been berating me for being a man in his thirties and not being able to play a single musical instrument. It’s the same voice that made me download an app to learn Spanish not too long ago, and without giving away any spoilers, I’m still only fluent in being an ignorant little Englander.

Nevertheless, I didn’t let my previous failure in improving as a human being stop me and decided to take some serious thought about which instrument would be right for me. And by, ‘serious thought’ what I really mean is, I quickly googled the sentence, ‘easiest and cheapest instrument to learn’ and impulsively ordered a keyboard. If I could have been bothered to click the second link you would have now undoubtedly been reading a blog about my attempts to learn the ukulele.

After the order for the keyboard had been placed, I spent the next forty eight hours watching videos of the likes of Billy Joel and Elton John and forensically looking at their finger placements as if I had any idea what I was looking for. I was even being distracted at work and found myself incessantly texting my girlfriend asking if it had arrived yet. So much so, that when it finally arrived my girlfriend’s text message to me simply read, ‘It is here.’ No warmth, no kisses to end the text as she usually would. Just three cold words sent by a woman at the end of her tether.

When I arrived home, I sprinted past all loved ones and instantly began to rip the packaging apart exactly like a man who lives in a world of instant gratification and is emotionally overwhelmed by a two day wait for something he bought on a whim. Upon annihilating the cardboard it became quickly apparent to me that I had bought a keyboard that was clearly designed for children. In particular, there’s a leaflet included that has several smug children holding a variety of different instruments. I suppose that this is meant to motivate other children. The message is an uplifting one of, “IF THEY CAN DO IT! SO CAN YOU!” But as a man so significantly outside of that demographic, it holds a more negative tone. More a message that says, “WE’LL BE ENTERING THE JOB MARKET SOON! INSTEAD OF PISSING ABOUT WITH A CHILD’S KEYBOARD, PERHAPS YOU SHOULD FINALLY GET AROUND TO LEARNING MICROSOFT EXCEL?”

Surprisingly though, even this was not enough to dampen my spirits and with motivation and enthusiasm still running through my pores, I found myself on YouTube within moments. In the recommended videos, I could see thumbnails advertising videos such as…

“Learn Hallelujah in 5 easy steps.”

“Classical music for beginners.”

“Nursery rhymes for children.”

As is often the case, I analysed all three choices and decided to go for the easiest option. As a result, I spent the next two hours learning the famous children’s ditty, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’ It must be noted that at the same time I was committing this tune to memory, my caring girlfriend, who has decided to volunteer for a charity that helps people with learning difficulties, was undergoing her volunteer training via zoom. So as she did this genuinely amazing thing, she and all her fellow volunteers could just faintly hear a fully grown man in the background swearing along to a nursery rhyme like a fucking lunatic. It must have crossed the other volunteers minds that my girlfriend had gone above and beyond in her duties and started dating one of the service users.

Despite the annoyance of my poor girlfriend having to listen to her neanderthal boyfriend smashing away at keys to a song that five year olds learn in thirty minutes, she was actually quite impressed and couldn’t resist shouting, “You’re an actual top notch pianist.” Or at least that’s what I think she said. Her compliment was drowned out by a selection of choice swear words and requests for me to keep it quiet.

My talent already too much for some people to take in.

I’m now about a week in to being an owner of a keyboard and I’m still at that stage where I can’t walk past it without having to touch it – I went though a similar phase as a teenage boy. Obviously, my girlfriend is convinced that like most things I’ll get bored of it and before too long it’ll be in the corner of our bedroom gathering dust. I on the other hand think I’ll eventually be proficient. In fact, her insistence that I’ll give up makes me want to stick with it. I might be the only musical legend that learns his art fueled solely by spite.

Also for anyone interested, my first single, ‘I Told You I Would Stick With This And Thanks For Your Unwavering Support’ will be available for download shortly.

This Week I Turned 31 And Already Can’t Wait To Be Older.

It was my birthday this week and I turned the grand old age of 31.

A fact that I’m completely OK with.

However, I have noticed a strange pattern in the last couple of years whenever my birthday has rolled around. In my late teens and mid twenties, I’d get a simple birthday wish like, “Happy Birthday Paul. Have a good one!” Or at worst, a weird too-specific jokey comment from Steve from accounts, “Don’t get too drunk and end up in the local newspaper and then spend the next 6 months living in a bed sit while fighting for access to your kids!”

OK Steve. Thanks Steve. Please stop crying Steve.

Now however, I get a look. A widening of the eyes followed by a tongue in cheek comment about the fact that I’m ‘getting on.’ A birthday wish wrapped up in words that essentially are telling me that my best years are behind me.

Two things:

Firstly, 31 isn’t old. I could literally drink beer, play PlayStation and nap for the next decade and still have half my life left. A plan that sounds very appealing.

Secondly, anyone who knows me knows I’m just hitting my prime.

This wasn’t a vehicle built for youth – it was a vehicle built for Worthers Originals and erectile dysfunction.

You see, I’ve always thought that youth was overrated. Or certainly the things you’re meant to enjoy as a young person. I mean, I took part in the drinking and the dancing that I was conditioned to enjoy, but I never felt comfortable. It was never me.

My experience of clubbing was completely different to most people. The people who genuinely enjoyed this type of thing would be lost in the moment in the middle of the dancefloor surrounded by people who similarly would rather be there than anywhere else. Me and my friends were there out of expectation. Our nights consisted of us just looking awkward in polo shirts before one of us was brave enough to say those magic words, “Want me to phone a taxi?”

You have to remember, when I was going out on a regular basis, I was 5’4, and had braces. I was still riding the wave of winning the coveted Brookfield High School GCSE History award. These people wanted to dance off their tits and take drugs. They were certainly not impressed by my knowledge of the Treaty of Versailles. And boy did I try.

In fact, me and my friends were so we largely unimpressed by all of this that we avoided the bright lights of town and the exuberance of youth by going to our local ‘old mans pub.’ Nothing weird about that you might say? Well OK, brace yourself for my next sentence. As a 19 year old, me and my friends sat religiously for about 4 years with a group of men in their seventies while they played songs with a spoon and an ash tray. While my peers were out living life, I was sat next to a man who stunk of urine and regret while he played Buddy Holly tracks with cutlery. And yes, I am fully aware how tragic this sounds.

In a totally irrelevant and completely unrelated matter, you’ll be surprised to hear that I lost my virginity quite late.

One of our first ‘lads holiday’ was a disaster as well. It was our second night in Magaluf and we had decided to go to a foam party at the world famous BCM nightclub. It was packed with young muscly types in vests. I on the other hand weighed about 7 stone and hadn’t yet been introduced to contact lenses. This became quite the issue when I began to ‘dance’ and make my way to the foam covered dance floor. You see I’d never been to a foam party before and didn’t realise that my glasses would steam up. And steam up they did.

It was half way through some track by Pitbull that I realised I was in trouble. My vision was gone and instead of being in the moment and dancing with other young people, I suddenly found myself grabbing wildly at air while screaming, “I need help! Will someone help me?!”

In classic fashion I began to panic and instead of making my way off the dance floor, I blindly walked towards where the foam was emptying. And it emptied right into my face. I was now blind and struggling to breath. This was how I was going to die. Panting uncontrollably to Pitbull.

I don’t know how I managed to get out of that predicament but when my friends found me I had lost a flip flop and my glasses were bent. What a night.

Nowadays my girlfriend will often ask me what I want to do at the weekend and I’m genuinely surprised that she hasn’t called anyone out to see if I’m possessed by a 54 year old librarian named Derek. I’m currently on a three year streak of answering, “I don’t know. Watch a documentary, read a couple of chapters and then fall asleep in front of the telly?”

I’m close to starting a GoFundMe page to raise funds so she can start a new life.

One of my favourite things to do as a 31 year old man is to potter. I love the days where I just aimlessly wander around the house like a man in control of his nothingness.

I would retire tomorrow if I could.

Recently, I’ve even found myself getting increasingly jealous at pensioners who spend their days gardening and attending book clubs. In fact, I’m so jealous, I’ve stopped giving up my seat to them on public transport. Norma can fuck off if she can’t stand for 20 minutes on her way to do WHATEVER SHE WANTS TO DO.

I mean the only downside to getting older is the fact that I’m edging closer on a daily basis to the death of my parents. But I’d rather be an elderly orphan playing bowls than downing shots at a rave with my whole life ahead of me.

On that upbeat note – I’ll see you at 32.