Written in August 2008
I saw a road crash yesterday. Actually what I saw was probably about three minutes after the moment when a motorcycle and large car collided on a cross-junction leaving the motorcyclist splattered over the road and the car driver wishing he hadn’t had that second glass of wine at lunch. (I’m being unfair here: I want the driver NOT to have been drunk. I’m just bitching because it was that it was that ‘late lunch’ time of day and people driving big cars in the city piss me off.)
I’m hoping the motorcyclist is ok but I wouldn’t put money on it. One man was pumping away at his chest and another looked like he was feeling for a pulse. The medics hadn’t arrived yet. I guess I’ll know in a couple of days when I walk by and see one of those ominous yellow incident signs that the police always put out.
It’s made me think how precarious life is. One minute you’re walking around worrying about DIY, work, sex and lunch (in no particular order) – next minute you’re dead.
First it got me thinking how pointless it all is. Then I blew off the gloom and thought how important it is to pack everything all in before your time’s up. But now I’m thinking, what if everyone in the world knew from the beginning how long they’d got? It would change so much. Such as, if you knew you were going to die at 22, would you bother going to school or struggling your way up the career ladder? Or even going to work at all?
Not me! I’d have run around trying to find a few more people with my same death date and convinced them that we should start some sort of band. It would be such a driving force knowing that you all had only so much time to make your mark before going out with a giant bang. Imagine if you were in a band of bank-robbers, knowing that police bullets wouldn’t be able to wipe you out until your official Dying Day.
And what if you were going to live to be 104? You could really pace yourself and chill out a bit; maybe choose a career path where it didn’t matter that you had to spend the first thirty-odd years studying all the time. And you wouldn’t begrudge putting that little bit extra away each month in your pension fund – you’d be sure of seeing every penny again, eventually. Plus you’d be more inclined to look after your body if you knew it had to hold out for that long.
Dating would take on a whole new twist. The romantics would want someone who would die on the same day as them; the cynical long-lifers would look for a series of cash-rich partners with a not-too-distant expiry date; and there’s bound to be a few weirdos who’d want to date people with only a few days left, just for the thrill of being around at the last moments.
The best thing about always knowing your death date would be that death wouldn’t be scary or sad any more because we’d all be so prepared for it. Perhaps almost looking forward to it. Although I’m thinking that ideally there should still be some element of surprise, so we shouldn’t know what time or how we were going to die, just the date. The excitement would be unbearable – in fact, that’s probably what would kill half of the population!
You could have a big Death Eve party to say fond farewells to those you loved and ‘up yours’ to those you didn’t. Instead of leaving stuff to people in your Will you could actually give it to them face-to-face. And imagine the thrill of getting to 23:59 on your Dying Day? How about getting together with all the other people your age due to die that day and doing something amazing? Obviously what people would find amazing will depend on their death age; a bunch of 6-year-old boys would probably be happy with cake and a bouncy castle. 96-year-old boys would probably prefer cake and a bouncy barmaid.
I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering about how much longer I’ve got. I’m hoping to be around for a fair bit still but not as long as might result in me sitting in a puddle of warm wee in an Old People’s Home. Although, I’ve just found out I have a small lump on my right ovary so maybe that’s the beginning of the end and I’ll peg it long before I get targeted by the Saga magazine people.
Either way, when my batteries finally expire, I want to be rolled up in my duvet and buried in the middle of a field beneath a coppiced silver birch tree. Anyone who might miss me should just mix themselves a large gin & tonic and listen to Whatever by Oasis. Cheers!
PS: Due to popular demand I would just like to add that a yellow sign never appeared in the road by the accident and my lump completely disappeared.