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On your way into work today, look around for those tell-tale signs of the male experiencing a midlife crisis.
Acquiring a convertible car is the classic forty-something reaction to greying hair and an aching back. Generally bought as an “investment” (highly unlikely unless the buyer has spent over £300,000), it is often accompanied by a new blonde companion who stays in tow until she belatedly discovers said forty-something’s varicose veins.
There’s a raft of other indications: dyed hair, pierced ears, even tattoos and the adaptation of a more ‘youthful’ wardrobe. Onlookers must stifle their laughter as one imagines Steve Gauge did when, faced with what he suspected was his own approaching midlife crisis, he discarded the opportunity to start behaving in an affected, pretentious manner and decided to take up rugby instead.
It was a brave move by a man who last donned his rugby kit at school, especially as he wasn’t particularly successful at it, but thankfully, Gauge has submitted his midlife experiences to paper and come up with an entertaining meander through rugby clubs of varying quality, drinking and, of course, rugby tours.
This is not heavyweight literature, but a breezy, often witty account of one man’s desire to do something different and reject the notion that just because you’re getting on a bit, it doesn’t mean you’re quite ready for a Zimmer frame.
Why rugby? The author gives a decent enough reason: “When life becomes a bit complicated – work, relationships, money, children, you know the sort of thing – playing rugby is a great way to clear the head. It forces you to stop re-circling, recycling and regurgitating the everyday niggles of life in your mind and just deal with the basis physical reality of staying alive on the pitch.”
My Life as a Hooker is littered with blokish anecdotes – including the full back who turned up to play for the fourth XV having told his wife he was popping out for potatoes. He played, bought the spuds and went back home to cook dinner.
“Rolling around in the mud with a bunch of beer-swilling reprobates has,” concludes Gauge, “turned out to be an enormously pleasurable experience and brought a broad smile to an otherwise grumpy face.”
If you’re currently thinking of buying a convertible, consider playing rugby – it’ll be much more fun.