Oh Fuck, I'm 42. And it's very unsettling how quickly those two years have passed. Though it's a birthday with little to no significance and I didn't feel anything but joy at the fact I had a day off and was going to be spending it in a super posh hotel in Oxfordshire eating amazing food.
We went out for breakfast and I can't tell you what a relief it was to be out and about without that fucking stupid moustache. I have been feeling constant embarrassment, especially near to my home, in front of my confused neighbours and it was so cool not to feel the need to apologise or explain to anyone, nor to feel that everyone was looking at me.
It's quite an interesting experiment to spend some time without the moustache at this stage as I was able to look around and see if people's reactions were any different. I am not sure they actually were. I don't think anyone other than me is really affected by this experiment and as I looked at passersby they seemed to either look at me or ignore me in the exact same way as they were days before. Now there was none of the occasional sniggering, which was a relief, because how embarrassing would it be if I found out that that was nothing to do with the moustache?
As a birthday present Andrew Collings went on Twitter and encouraged everyone to retweet their best wishes and love for me. Enough people did this to propel me the position of (temporary) most popular UK person on the site. At least according to @twirus_uk which read "Top5 popular people: 1 @Herring1967(New) 2 @MissKatiePrice 3 @ThisisDavina 4 @Jason_Manford 5 @ddlovato." It was strange to see myself more popular than Jordan on any list, although one suspects that in some quarters a syphilitic stick insect might be judged more popular, but it was still impressive. And a nice gesture of love from Collings. I am going to give him such a bumming when I see him next.
I massively enjoyed my afternoon and evening away and wish I could live in my hotel room forever, mainly because it had a TV that disappears up into the ceiling at the touch of a button. But it was just sweet and lovely to be sitting in the sunshine with my girl with nowhere to rush to and nothing to do and to reflect on having successfully survived for 42 years on the planet. For a moment I felt like I had the answer to life, the universe and everything. I am a lucky man.
We sat by a big pond with waterlillies on it too and I had the almost overwhelming urge to see if one of the waterlilly leaves would support the weight of my iPhone. I knew it wouldn't, even though a duckling was happily sitting on one. But what is it that makes me want to put this precious and already precarious possession in such watery scenarios?
Luckily again I resisted. I am hoping I can hold on to this one for a bit longer.
And without my moustache I felt glad to be not making a scene, though I was the only male guest in jeans and a T shirt and thought I felt the odd stare of disapproval.
Later at our five course dinner there was an odd piece of cutlery at the table, halfway between a spoon and a fish knife. We were unable to decide if it was there to assist in the eating of the risotto or if it was for the next course, which was salmon. Neither of us chanced it and I suspected that if we had got it wrong the strange device would be spirited away by the waiter. I became convinced it was for the risotto and to avoid embarrassment considered putting it in my dish so I could pretend I had used it - even though I had made do with a fork and a piece of bread. Sure enough as the plate was cleared away the risotto spoon (for that is what it was) was taken away too. My girlfriend and I both laughed. There was no shame in not recognising a risotto spoon. The couple at the next table but one made the exact same judgement and the exact same mistake. I wonder if there is actually more shame in recognising a risotto spoon than in not doing so. I wondered if the staff judged us. They could have pointed out our error or even forewarned us, but I suppose that would be impolite.
I am glad I am not posh. It must be a constant battle. The risotto still tasted good off a fork.