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62 with a bullet

LAST WEEK TUESDAY (2 June) was my birthday and all I’ve got to show for myself after six decades of this cosmic joke called life is the same receding hairline, expanding waistline, infrequent byline and recurring firetrucking punch line: ten times before today, in “birthday” columns, I’ve repeated the same hairline/ waistline/ byline joke I first made when I was 30 with a Bullet.

After turning 30 “in the papers” in 1988, I decided to limit birthday columns to five-year intervals and “significant” birthdays but, when I turned 55 in 2013, I realised every firetrucking birthday had become hugely significant: every one I celebrate increases the chances that I won’t be here for the next one. No Pires male has lived past the age of 62 in five generations; I’m watching my elder brother, who turns 63 on 26 June, like a canary in the family coal mine.
But surely I’ve learned something from it all? Or at least can pretend to have? Here, then are 62 pieces of indisputable wisdom, one gleaned from each year I’ve managed to defy both Death and the odds. Following these commandments probably won’t get you to Heaven; but you’ll certainly have a Hell of a time. Some of the ones in-between may change but the first and last have remained the same for 32 years now.

1. Never fart in an elevator. 2. George Floyd will be remembered longer — and better — than Donald “Fat Nixon” Trump. 3. Blue and green should never be seen. 4. Memorise important phone numbers. 5. People prefer pretty lies to ugly truths. 6. Conservatives love all children from zygote, forward — unless they turn out gay. 7. Never manage your fantasy team while drunk; you’ll play your wildcard in game-week two. 8. The less-talented are always more critical. 9. The cook is exempt from the cleanup. 10. Anyone still supporting Trump is a racist.

11. Marry your best friend (if she/he’s hot). 12. You’re not rich enough to buy cheap. 13. The only thing you can do to excess is moderation. 14. Never vote for a political party with three initials in its name. 15. The hottie in the gym is not looking at you, but at her reflection in the mirror behind you. 16. Always look back into a toilet you’ve flushed before leaving the restroom. 17. If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use both feet (Keith Richards). 18. The only cure for hate is love. 19. There is no such thing as a free lunch. 20. Stiletto heels & a G-string compensate for most shortcomings.

21. Never laugh with Crix in your mouth. 22. Never say anything behind people’s backs (except for bum-bum compliments). 23. Don’t judge your parents until your own children are adults. 24. You can change Trinidad governments but not their uselessness. 25. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time (Maya Angelou). 26. Live and let die (James Bond). 27. The only cons bigger than cigarettes & alcohol are Brexit & Donald Trump. 28. In middle age, your fiancee will turn into her mother/his father. 29. The rich get richer and the poor get children. 30. Snopes it.

31. Religious instruction is child abuse (Denis Solomon). 32. Never pick up a tissue near any man’s computer. 33. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light (Stanley Kubrick). 34. Leave the gun; take the cannoli (The Godfather). 34. Pay off your credit card in full every firetrucking month. 36. Wherever you go, there you are. 37. Beauty fades; ugly lasts. 38. Money won’t get you to Heaven, but you sure see Hell without it (Christian Soldier/jointpop). 39. There are no holy books. 40. Women need a reason to have sex; men only need a place.

40. Austerity is the idea that the 2008 financial crash was caused by there being too many libraries in Wolverhampton (Alexi Sayle). 41. All is firetrucking vanity. 42. Every age is modern to those who live in it. 43. Be the change you want in the world. (Ghandi). 44. Brrrrrrtttt! (Bunji). 45. You have to trust others or you might as well shoot yourself. 45. We die alone for sure but we may be able to live together. 46. It takes all kinds – but apostates and red women are the best. 47. Better to arrive an hour early than a minute late. 48. Every liberty includes a responsibility. 49. God is dead (Nietzsche) but love is all you need (Beatles). 50. Never travel in button-fly jeans.

51. Never live downwind from a chicken or pig farm. 52. The only person you can change is yourself. 53. All humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone (Pascal). 54. The louder anyone protests against anything - therapy, same gender sex, Viagra - the more desperately they need it. 55. Anger is a poison you take and hope your enemy dies. 56. Don’t get mad, get even. 57. Love thy neighbour – but don’t let thy spouse find out. 58. Ageing beats the only other option. 59. Human decency is not derived from religion; it precedes it (Christopher Hitchens). 60. The city/ could b’un down/ We jamming still (MX Prime & the Ultimate Rejects). 61. It have nothing as dangerous as overseer envy. 62. One day I'll have to get a real job.

BC Pires is 62 with, hopefully, a rubber bullet and no teargas or percussion grenades, unlike peaceful protestors in Washington

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