It’s official – I have now been standing, sitting, or lying down on this ball of mud, rock, and water for 45 laps of the sun. 45 is kind of a nothing age, isn’t it – not significant in any meaningful measure of anything. The weather has done it’s bit to cancel the event out too – making the entire family prisoners for the last few days, preventing any sort of birthday themed shenanigans from going on. We have no nice food in the cupboards, no wine, no beer. It’s all rather depressing really.
The children appeared mid-morning carrying a bag, and handed it to me. I feigned surprise as I unwrapped something we accidentally ordered from Amazon at Christmas for the children – that had now become my birthday present, because *of course* it wasn’t returned.
I now have one of those fitness tracking watch things. It’s a very basic one, but it’s something of a novelty. Fortunately it doesn’t track hours spent sitting in front of computers. No doubt I will write about it after wearing it around for a few days.
Anyway. I was born in 1973. A couple of years ago I had a go at writing an autobiography of sorts – I thought, given the date, it might be worth sharing the opening chapter once again.
In the annuls of history, perhaps 1973 won’t go down as one of the more notable years. It doesn’t have the same instant recognition as 1066, 1492, of 1984. Anybody that paid attention at school would know that those years relate to the Battle of Hastings, the discovery of the North American continent by Columbus, and the release of the Apple Macintosh computer. OK, perhaps the Apple Macintosh is a bit of a stretch – maybe the book by George Orwell that countless generations of school children were forced to read during the late 1980s.
Year numbers are a funny thing really – given that they start at an arbitrary point in the history of the ball of mud we all inhabit as it whistles through outer-space, around a fairly ordinary G-Type main sequence star.
There are of course many and varied accounts of the pre-history of the ball of mud. Perhaps the most entertaining is that a bearded being dressed in bed linen conjured everything in the hereabouts during a few days of manic activity about four thousand years ago, before seemingly not lifting a finger ever again. Various peoples living on the ball of mud have debated over the skin colour, name, and rules set out by this mysterious being for at least the last two millennia.
Another idea proposed by more recent peoples furnished with enquiring minds – we might term them trouble makers – is that the some kind of colossal “big bang” happened at some point in the very distant past, much like a cosmological piñata being burst. This explosion furnished the nothingness with just enough building blocks to randomly evolve into what we now fail to agree on any understand of. Following the lead of Arthur C. Clarke, we might opine that the complexity of the world around us is sufficiently difficult to understand that we might accurately describe the process by which it arrived here as “a kind of magic”.
So. Back to 1973.
In 1973 the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and Denmark became members of the Economic community. At the time of writing a huge proportion of the population of the United Kingdom has decided that on reflection this perhaps wasn’t such a good idea, and are busily destroying the economy and the future of their children to somehow prove that the world would have been a much better place if only people hadn’t wanted to talk to, or help one another in the first place.
Far more important things happened in 1973 though. An American rock band called “Aerosmith”, fronted by a man with an impossibly large mouth, released their debut album. For anybody reading this born at any point after 1983, albums were plastic discs scratched with wiggly lines, which when combined with the beak of a bird, would emit music (or perhaps that was the Flintstones? my memory isn’t what it once was).
Elvis Presley broadcast the first world-wide telecast by an entertainer, where he tried to beat the world record for eating the most hamburgers in one sitting. Or was it that he sang some songs about loving people tenderly, and trying to make a jail-house tip over? He did have a go at the hamburger challenge a few years later though, and died on the toilet mid-way through.
The Miami Dolphins completed the first (and only) perfect season in American Football League history, after defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in the Superbowl at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The rest of the world didn’t notice, because they all play Rugby as it was originally intended – without crash helmets, without body armor, and with far fewer teeth.
George Foreman hit Joe Frasier into next week to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. He went on to a successful career selling cookers before completing a similar act on Michael Moorer 30 years later.
The World Trade Center opened in New York, instantly becoming the tallest building in the world (although beaten a month later by the Sears Tower). Nearly thirty years later it would almost ruin my wedding after a flying club in America didn’t think it strange that some of their students weren’t interested in learning about landing – only taking off. Of course the World Trade Center was modeled after a part of Skull Island, which lead to the 1970s iteration of King Kong climbing it’s heady heights while clasping a half-dressed Jessica Lange before ultimately being shot to pieces by the few helicopters that thought it wise to perhaps stay out of grabbing range.
In May, Skylab – a space station made out of leftover moon rocket parts – blasted off. A month later an emergency mission would be launched to repair it. When asked who broke it, the astronauts immediately pointed at each other. It turns out the repair was a bit of a waste of time anyway, because the entire enterprise ended up splashed across a huge swathe of Australia a few years later, narrowly missing built-up areas (of course in Australia, a built up area is two houses, three hundred miles down the road from each other, but still…)
In September, Jim Croce continued the long standing tradition of singer songwriters in America of getting on board planes that wouldn’t reach their destination.
In November, after a summer of being accused of all sorts of sculduggery, US President Richard Nixon tells anybody that will listen to him that he is “Not a Crook”. Nobody believes him in the slightest, and a few months later his presidency is consigned to history, and a number of highly entertaining films starring the likes of Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, and Michael Sheen.
Finally, in December, the movie “The Sting” hits cinemas, probably causing the biggest spike in traffic violations ever seen in San Francisco in the weeks that follow as twenty-something movie-goers attempt to re-enact scenes from the movie. San Francisco will go on to become the cinema-car-chase-capital-of-the-world for decades to come.
Oh yes. Almost forgot. Something else happened in 1973.
Early in the morning of Saturday March 3rd, in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England, a little boy was born. For the first days of his life they thought he might have a serious problem with his brain – perhaps hydrocephalus – given the size of his head, until a doctor overheard his grandmother mention that they never could find hats to fit his Dad when he was a baby.
That little boy was me.