It was my birthday last week. I don’t like to think of myself as middle aged, but the sad truth of the matter is that I would have to live to a ripe old age for these to be anything better than my middle years.
The thing with birthdays is the more of them you have the less stuff you tend to want. As a consequence, for the past few years I have really struggled to come up with ideas of things for my wife to buy me.
One thing that I don’t grow out of however is the desire to celebrate my birthday. Some may feel that the inexorable passing of the years is nothing to celebrate, but I embrace the notion that although growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional, and I love the excuse to drag friends together and go out and have a few drinks.
This isn’t as easy as it used to be though. In the old days when all of my friends were young, free, single and child-free it was a doddle. But now many of my friends have kids and baby-sitters to worry about, or they have important jobs that get in the way, or they have moved to far-flung outposts of the country.
Nonetheless, a few stalwarts remain: barriers were overcome and hair was let down and a good time was had by all. Nothing fancy: some food and drink in some of Gloucester’s fine hostelries and the joy of a loud and energetic band playing into the small hours in Café Rene. If it’s too loud you’re too old. We loved it.
This year was also something of an exception in the gift ideas stakes too – I knew what I wanted: Photoshop Elements 9. I can’t believe that I have survived this long without a decent photo editing package and, working with Ken, my collaborator on Gloucester Then and Now, I came to realise what a great tool it was.
Perhaps Saturday morning with a hangover was not the best time to try to start getting to grips with this powerful and very complicated piece of computer software, but this is what I did. To be fair, I don’t think I’m doing too badly. I seem to have grasped the basics enough to greatly improve the pictures that will be going into the book, but I think it is going to take more than the time remaining in the second half of my life to get as slick with it as Ken.
And wouldn’t you know it; on Saturday I got an e-mail from Amazon: “Now available – Photoshop Elements 10!” D’oh!