Express & Star

Dan Morris: The age of enlightenment

Put your party hats on and bring on the trombones, folks – I've got a birthday coming up.

It's that time of year again...

Granted, it's not a traditionally 'big' birthday, yet for a reason that is perhaps a bit bizarre, for me this one is special.

I'll be turning 36 in a couple of weeks, and while this number means very little to most people, it will mean that I have hit the age that my parents are in my earliest memories of them.

This only struck me about a week ago, and is a strange thing to contemplate. I remember my dad as a 36-year-old man relatively well (though I was very young), and it is odd to have that memory of someone who then seemed like such an old sage and realise that I am now his equal in years.

Naturally, you start making comparisons.

At my age, my dad was also a newspaper man, so there's an easy parallel there. He also laughed loudly, drank deeply from the cup of life, and had a lot of lovely friends and family around him. Tick, tick and (most happily of all) tick.

The greys had also set in (certainly another tick), and like me, he had something of a penchant for facial hair. In accordance with the era that was though, my dad favoured the 'tash' over the 'full hipster'.

Fashion-wise, Dad-at-36 and Dan-knocking-on-its-door are indeed somewhat different – as one would expect with how times and trends change. I've never much been one for a denim jacket, yet I remember two or three being staples of his wardrobe. Photo evidence also suggests he was a knitwear fan, with a few choice Christmassy jumpers seeming to rear their head regardless of the season.

Personally, if I'm not in a suit, a T-shirt and cargo shorts will do just fine these days. But again, this is regardless of the time of year, so I suppose with that we have 'weather inappropriate' clothing in common.

He only wore his specs occasionally back then, as do I now. And even then I remember the joy on his face while he delighted his pals with a gag or two; a warm and fuzzy expression I am also often very guilty of sporting.

Yet, even with this, we're scratching the surface. Deep down, how similar are Dan and Dad as as men of equivalent years? Do we think alike? Do we believe the same things? Would we be friends?

Well, we've been best pals for over 35 years, so happily the answer to all of these questions is relatively simple. Like most sons, the way I think is very much a product of my dad, who has always been a great one. We like to challenge each other with our opinions, and while we sometimes (even often) disagree, the passion behind our thoughts is the same. We think different things, but the way in which we think is entirely alike.

Do we believe the same things? We may disagree on which Government policies are worth their salt or on what we believe is the right time of day to mow the lawn, but in terms of deep values, ideas of right and wrong, and where our priorities as people and parents lie, I'm proud to say that we have always been great influences on each other. Our shared beliefs have always shaped our relationship; I hope they always will. And I have no doubt that if we had met as 36-year-olds we would have been as influential on each other as we always have been, and just as strongly united in our values.

So, finally, would we be friends? Well, I wouldn't be dipping my toe in the denim jacket pool or trimming in a tash, but I can't imagine a universe where we weren't absolutely the best of buds; even if we were a pair of competitive mid-thirties alphas, or, indeed, if he were my son and I his father.

We're two of a kind – it's as simple as that.

Now – and to much more important matters – as my big day approaches I must draw attention to a far more important birthday that has very recently passed. My beautiful daughter has just turned one, and I'm sure you'll forgive me a paragraph or two to say this:

My sweet little Peach Tree... As amazing as your grandad is, you have taught me more about love in the last year than anyone across the other 35 combined.

Always be a bit bad, and keep your smile cheeky forever. You make me happier everyday than I ever thought possible, and it is the greatest privilege in the world to be able to hold your hand on this little adventure called life. You have made mine entirely complete, and when you are 36 I hope you're as proud of yourself as I am of you right now.

I love you 3,000 kiddo – now let's get the cake out.

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