Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Land ahoy! I have made it to forty...

This time forty years ago I was about to make my debut south of the river. Kings College Hospital Lambeth, just up from the arches where my great grandfather stabled the horse that pulled his rag and bone cart in Camberwell Green. Somewhere in the the building a Beatles daughter had been born. My mother was served her tea on a silver tray, rock royalty and commoners were treated alike in the NHS. She never did get to spy Paul Mcartney from her hospital bed, but I lucked out that day. My dad was not a Beatle but a striking postman, my mother a professional in the business of common sense and selfless love. I'd hit the jackpot, this pair would always be there for me.

It's just another year but there's something about knocking on that paint chipped door of forty that makes you question what you have built for yourself inside, what you have achieved as a woman. Unfortunately personal success and achievement in our society are marked by a glittering career and money in the bank. As I opened the door to forty I expected to find a little more, I expected to at least own my home.That elusive career never did show itself and this dogged my thirties as I lurched from redundancy to cunning plans and artistic endeavours. I found my niche in literary fiction only to realise that it is of the hardest markets to crack, I have never made life easy for myself.

I spent a large part of my thirties beating myself up, I didn't need criticism I was too busy annihilating myself. I went to university full of passion, I would not just be a housewife, I would be a career woman. At forty I am a housewife, not because I'm a woman. but because I couldn't play the corporate game, say the right words at interviews and this is a revelation even to me, because deep down I didn't really want it . I'm not a suited go getter in Prada heels ,I am a thinker and an artist and my place is at home. Not behind a hoover but a keypad, being literary ,creating fiction. For my fortieth birthday I'm giving myself a break. I may be no Kate Moss but I've seen worse. Like Minnie the moocher, I may be small but my heart can be the size of a whale and i am often overwhelmed by the love that surrounds me.

Like my Romany ancestors I don't believe that a house is a home. It's the people that breathe life into a place , into your life. Sometimes when things are bad the Porter family cuddle up on the double bed. We tell each other we are on a ship and that the only thing that matters is what's on board. We could go anywhere. Tomorrow is not only my 40th but speak like a pirate day. The good ship Porter is ready to sail forward into the unknown. Its captains have weathered many a storm together, king George and Pearl are ready for action as we face the perilous ocean ahead. As I take to the high seas of my forties I am confident in my crew.

Tomorrow as I hit forty I finally realise that life is simply an accumulation of moments, not a constant stock take or judgement day. Be you the daughter of a postman or a Beatle you get the life you get, by giving myself a break I am loving life in all its complexity and simplicity. Giving myself a break feels bloody marvellous, who cares if I'm a financial ruin, I once wore a powdered wig to the Cafe Royal, have spent twenty three years bathed in the most beautiful blue light of my lover's eyes. These are a few of my humble achievements and all those colourful mistakes and follies are all fodder for my fiction. I may have to wield my cutlass for writing time on this crowded ship ,but I'm taking it one day at a time. Here's to all those who have sat through the performance so far! This is no curtain call by a long shot.

Michelle porter 1971 to ....... Whenever fate fancies