‘A man told me to beware of thirty-three. He said “It was not an easy time for me”. But I’ll get through…’

This is the warning that Jarvis Cocker gave me, when I was fourteen, in Pulp’s song Dishes. Back then 33 felt like an impossibly long way away, but now, after almost 20 years of holding that number with caution, at arms reach, here I am.

Thirty-three is fine, actually. But still, I have a rule in life that what Jarvis says, goes. 

See, this man who I have never met has been more influential in passing on life lessons and wisdom to me, than anyone else. And he still is. 

His lyrics are the kind of writing I aspire to; frank, unglamorous and about the trivialities of the everyday life that we all partake in, but are seldom recorded. He doesn’t write about the flash trappings of celebrity life, soaring orchestrations on heartbreak or anthems of world peace, like the others musicians do.

Instead he writes about being an awkward outsider. About being a shitty, and shallow, partner. The time he lost his infant son in a railway station. Revenge affairs with housewives, deep in beige suburbia. Getting old. Uneventful losses of virginity. Abandoned sweet factories in Sheffield. Trees. Doing the washing up. Bad drugs at awful music festivals. Boasting about being a hot lover? Nah, he’s just ‘leftovers’.

And because of this he has been my dream partner this whole time. I have quite an array of detailed fantasies about my life, comfortably and contently, shacked up with him. They are so caught up in the triviality of the everyday that they could be one of his songs: A Sunday spent reading the newspapers. He pops a casserole in the oven. We take the dog for a walk. He lets me wear his scarf. It smells of coffee and tobacco. I stub my toe on his hoards of dusty, battered, second hand records and books that are piled up in the hallway, that I keep asking him to move. We argue about this but make up, shortly afterwards, with a dance in the lounge, to Nancy Sinatra.

I could write a whole series entitled ‘My Sunday With Jarvis’.

So if Jarvis made it through 33 in magnificent splendour, then so do I.

Besides, it’s not all warnings. Dishes also has the beautiful line:

‘I am not worried that i will never touch the stars, 

Because the stars belong up in heaven, 

And the earth is where we are’

That’s Jarvis. Life-mentor, poet and number-one fantasy husband, all rolled into one. 


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