Yesterday, the middle-age domain, which’s been my fixed abode since 2013 when first able to tell the difference between a rhododendron and an azalea, witnessed yours truly bed even further into midlife. A realm of unfeasibly long nasal and ear hair and unshakeable redolence of TCP.

The realisation of further familiarity to this segment of the ageing process manifesting from experiencing unexpected enjoyment from sharpening coloured pencils. Making the tools of my new drawing hobby sharp enough to shear the aforementioned lug hair bequeathing me an esprit which, in retrospect, somewhat concerned me.

Mulling over my earlier task of crayon renewal, it disturbed me to realise I was now, under COVID’s watch, capable of experiencing existential brio from thirty minutes tapering coloured pencils. This new found awareness of how my pleasure thresholds had enervated shaking me to the very core.

Akin to power blasting a patio, or mowing a lawn, returning the stationery to a fit for purpose status providing me with unexpected catharsis. As I commented on during an earlier primitive pencil sketch, the populace’s desire to return to our pre-coronavirus existences has resulted in COVID19 reducing genie wish requests into the thinnest of aspirational gruel.

That being said, I’m not lazy enough to include “Can you sharpen my pencils, genie?” as one of my three wishes; even in this most killjoy of calendar years. I can taper my own crayons thank you very much.

If I stumble upon a genie’s lamp, on affording the wizard liberty from its bottle gaol, GJ Strachan’ll seek a trinity of aspirations that’ll provide a significantly higher adrenaline rush than drawing implement maintenance. My trio of whizzbang requests:- 1) a long sought after duck whistle; 2) an Edd the Duck fridge magnet; and 3) boxer shorts, or indeed any undergarment, bearing Amazon Alexa functionality.

If my genie buddy can bequeath me with the above riches my life will be complete. I’ll b e able to die a contented, fulfilled man……. My final aural offering the quack of a duck whistle, and a request that Alexa plays The Beatles White Album.

If I’d passed, yours truly realises I couldn’t enjoy The Beatles classic album. However, as the Thab Thour (as my mate who pronounces his F’s as TH’s calls them) had their first number one in the year I was born, I thought it’d be fitting to have something from them to see me out.

Consequently, I’d meet my maker (Vauxhall Motors) as happy as anyone could be when in the possession of a duck whistle, an Edd the Duck fridge magnet and undies with Amazon Alexa functionality.

Hopefully, I’d be re-acquainted with my father who could welcome me with his habitual greeting when still with us of, “Have you still got my bleeding ladders, Gary?!” As I doubt I’d be in possession of the steps, I’d apologise profusely and hold him as impossibly tight as I’ve longed to since he left us…… Then, when he wasn’t looking, pick his pocket!

That being said, pilfering the old man’s wallet in the afterlife maybe a futile act. After all, they mightn’t use money for the purposes of exchange and barter. The romantic in me hopes they procure celestial products with the Greenshield Stamps given as incentives by retail shops (as adopted by my grandad in his Armley store) in the 1970’s.

As a young boy, I recall memories of my paternal forebear dishing out this green stamps to customers in his Fancy Goods shop on Stanningley Road. A transaction which fascinated me; prior to my brother Ian and I concentrating on the main business in hand; that of asking grandma and grandad if we could have a one penny toy from the bin of them they sold.

Before I go does anyone want to hear my rendition of Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance – March No 1 on my old out of tune duck whistle?!