best before

You get to that point – certain age, certain place – where you begin to realise that you’ve lived past that stage where you could get away with dusting off the same old faded medals and hoping to impress people at interviews with them. Your old medals are from campaigns everyone’s forgotten about. What have you been doing since then? You’re going to be the old boy sweeping up in between the trainers of jeering teenagers at midnight in your  local McDonald’s’ or you’re going to be endlessly, joylessly wiping the emaciated, liver spotted arses of people only a decade or so older than you – constantly catching a glimpse of yourself, shuffling away into the shadows in your own hallway a few sparse years from now, dragging a trail of your own shit behind you, waving your stick at goblins. And while you may be lucky enough not to starve to death, you may also still be sitting in the dark under a blanket eating dog food from the can with a fork listening to the world going to hell outside and the kids not visited or phoned in years. You may be wearing a uniform with your name on a badge like a toddler on your first day at school, old enough to be the granddad of everyone there, never making enough to really survive, slowly tilting back into the yawning catastrophe like a shipwrecked soul inexorably sliding down an ice floe into the endless frigid depths below. All you ever did was make it to wherever you are – that’s not a marketable skill. You’ve got nothing but gammy teeth and erectile dysfunction to bring to the table, prostate boy. It’s all going to be a very different last few years than you might have imagined when you were young.

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