Tuesday 15 October 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'There's not much fun to be had when you're in your 40s'

Richard Pryor in 1981
Richard Pryor in 1981
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

There aren't many upsides to being in your 40s, particularly when you remain as immature and lacking in impulse control as you were in your 20s. Yet that's the grim position myself and some friends now find ourselves in.

This is the age when we start to grapple with the fact that we will probably never write that book, or land that dream job and the sense that all your mistakes are coming home to roost is inescapable.

It's also the time when, whether we like it or not, we have to face reality and accept that our best days are behind us and they ain't ever coming back. One of the more unsettling aspects is that those of us creeping towards middle age have a lot more funerals to attend. Frankly, I can't remember the last wedding I went to, but I've been to numerous funerals over the last few years, and that grim pattern certainly concentrates the mind on mortality.

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We all operate under varying degrees of self delusion, but while I may always feel like I'm 27, many of the people I admired when I was that age are now dying off.

This week saw the deaths of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk and drummer with The Cure, Andy Anderson.

Rock stars dying is hardly an unusual phenomenon but what really shocked me was their age - Hollis was 64 and Anderson was 68.

You know you're getting on in years when people you loved as a youngster are now either dead or pensioners.

This week also marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of just 32.

There's a strong argument that Richard Prior was the greatest stand-up comedian of all time, but Hicks has to be in contention for that crown.

A blistering performer, his gig in the Tivoli theatre in 1992 remains the greatest show I have ever seen - it really was that good. I went with my father, who had brought me up listening to albums by the likes of Woody Allen, Bob Newhart and, of course, Prior.

After the show, Da said nothing on the way home - not because he was disappointed with the gig, but because he had never seen anything like it.

"The man is a genius," was his simple summation and it was hard to disagree.

I've been in the presence of greatness twice in my life - one was with Mikhail Gorbachev and the other was with Hicks.

I'll be in the Grand Social tomorrow afternoon for a Bill Hicks tribute show - all are invited.

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