I remember being a fresh-faced 12 year old walking to school, wondering what the year 2012 would be like. I’d imagined dark storm clouds, flickering lightening, the faint cries of tortured souls whipped away by the ever present cold winds. You see, the year 2012 has long held a dark fascination for me.
No doubt some of you are thinking Mayan End of Days. Perhaps, like others, you’re wondering if I’m obsessed with the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse and have secretly been plotting which of my rare vinyl LPs to sacrifice to save my friends and leg it to the pub ala Shaun of the Dead (best zomcom movie ever).
Well, you’d all be wrong.
After long consideration, I’m pretty sure that the Mayans simply ran out of rock to carve days on and decided to go with the “Fuck it, let’s call it a day at 2012” approach. I mean, even Mayans must get bored of carving rock calendars and want to get a cheeky flyer on a friday afternoon. Also, my vinyl is all stored in my parents dusty attic some 3,000 miles away and besides, it pathetically consists of:
- Pinky And Perky – Greatest Hits
- Culture Club – Colour By Numbers
- The Police – Reggatta de Blanc
- Madness – The Rise And Fall and Complete Madness
- Michael Jackson – Thriller
- Marmalade – The Very Best Of (as opposed to The Nearly Best Of which was quite frankly, utter rubbish and didn’t include the classic Obladi Oblada)
Other than The Police, I’d be prepared to toss all of those albums at a slathering Belgian zombie. I imagine Thriller would do extra damage and chucking Pinky and Perky has to get bonus points. So, no, my dark fascination with 2012 isn’t because of the Mayans or Zombie Apocalypse. It’s something far, far worse. It’s because I was born in May 1972 and have now reached the venerably buggered age of 40 years old.
Let’s set the record straight for anyone that thinks I’m over-exaggerating about this life milestone. Life doesn’t begin at 40 you morons, it begins at zero and by 40, most of us are half way through which means that at best, I’m now teetering on the edge of the dark slide toward senility and adult diapers. Oh granted, there are some things to look forward to. Proclaiming non-politically correct statements about the French at public uprisings and playing the role of The Dark Lord in amateur dramatic adaptions of Lord of the Rings are certainly highlights still to come in the story of my life. Unfortunately though, my chances of reaching 6’2″ are pretty much over. I’m half an inch off and since my spine is likely to start collapsing now, I’ll never get it without some serious platform shoes which even with my shapely legs, a bearded 40-year old farmer just isn’t going to get away with.
The tradition of getting bought inappropriate bladed weapons for significant birthdays distracted me for a while. For my 20th, I bought myself a fake Swiss Army Knife from Sheffield market. It had a compass built into the end and a corkscrew just in case anyone needed to open a bottle of Chateau Neuf Du Broomhall 1992, but unfortunately I tragically lost it shortly after taking it home. For my 30th birthday, Emma bought me a three-foot “Pendragon” long sword made from Toledo steel which is rather awesome. I still have it and pretend to be Highlander when no one is looking. My Sean Connery impression is legendary and actually gets better with age. It’s kind of a mix between a Scot and a Pakistani Jamaican. Harder than you’d imagine to pull that off and not look ridiculous.
For my 40th birthday, my parents bought me a huge Sthil Chainsaw which can probably do more damage than the long sword, but isn’t as maneoverable in a fight. It’s an appropriate present for a 40 year old. After all, we’re supposed to be sensible now, right?
Well, no. Wrong again. What has lifted me from the doldrums of age-related melancholy, other than my missus and kids, is the arrival of around 20,000 new livestock. I’m talking about BEES! Oh yeah, buzzing bees that are busy making me delicious runny honey and beeswax for candles. I wasn’t sure how I’d take to bees, after all they have the possibility of hurting you in the way that your average Red Sexlink Chicken just can’t imagine. I’ve never been stung by a bee before and so had the added excitement of unknown pain coupled with uncertainty whether I’d go into anaphylactic shock and keel over after the first jab.
With hindsight, I shouldn’t have worried. I like any role that comes with a special hat and beekeeping is no exception. That’s probably why I’ve plotted and dreamed of becoming King – the crown is the ultimate hat. Other than the time I convinced a couple of gullible girls at University that I was the third son of the Duke of Northumberland, my lack of regal status is another travesty I’ve had to come to terms with in these first 40 years. Somehow, I content myself with the roles of Biker (helmet), Builder (hardhat), now Farmer (cowboy). In them all, the hat made the difference.
When I put the beekeeper’s hat on, something magical happened. I fell in love with bees. Not the cover yourself in honey and let them crawl over your scrotum kind of love. No, I fell in love with the ability to harness inherently wild creatures and have them turn sunshine into liquid gold. Real life doesn’t often get more magical than that.
Plus, the thought of our own supply of honey and beeswax opens up three new ways to generate revenue: raw honey, carved and infused medicinal candles and most importantly, Mead.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with Mead, it’s honey wine. The ancient britons used to think of it as the drink of the Gods and when you taste it, it’s easy to understand why. It’s smooth and sweet, has warmth and, like Bruce Lee, can unsuspectingly take the legs out from beneath you if you’re not careful. All round, it’s an alcoholic version of me.
I’ve not had the chance to brew any of this magical elixir yet because it takes an insanely large amount of honey to make a decent batch. But perhaps this year, we’ll have enough from our two starter hives to make an experimental run…one or ten bottles should see me and some select friends through the coming Zombie Apocalypse and End of Days in December 2012.
And if the zombies should still make it through, there’s always Culture Club to see us right.