Friday 19 January 2018

Life's too short

On the tenth day of a fortnight’s holiday in Tenerife, Mrs Jones and I were flagging. A combination of Spanish sunshine, overeating, hefty consumption of San Miguel lager and late-night revelling at the local Irish bars had left us feeling weary. At 58 years old, we don’t possess the same level of stamina as in our young adulthood. We decided on an early night – not with any intention of rumpy-pumpy, as we were too tired for that nonsense; a sustained 30-seconds of pelvic thrusting was way beyond our capabilities. The (smallish) rational parts of our brains insisted that less alcohol and more sleep would re-energise us for the remainder of the holiday.

So at 8.30pm, rather than bouncing into town, we opted for a quiet drink in our hotel bar as a prelude to bed. Perched on a leather settee, we observed our spacious and opulent surroundings: sparkling chandeliers, sturdy-oak coffee tables, mirrored walls, a bar displaying endless varieties of liqueurs and spirits, and bow-tied waitresses - in white blouses and black skirts - attentive to the needs of their guests. And oh so quiet. People spoke in whispers, as if mindful to not corrupt the sumptuous surrounds. The most noticeable sound was the clicking of stiletto on tile, as a waitress scurried to replenish a glass. Mrs Jones and I sat in silence, sipping our lager nightcaps; the heaviness of our lethargy made speech feel too much of an effort.

But then something remarkable happened.

Very gradually, we grew aware of another noise. An intermittent growling could be heard behind us, and we turned to discover the source. A bald headed man, maybe in his 70s, was slumped in his armchair, a half-full glass of stout on the table in front of him. His eyes were closed, his hands clasped in his lap. At the same table were three vacant chairs, the empty glasses in front of them suggesting recent occupation by his companions prior to their desertion.

We watched him closely. He’d clearly been there a while, as evidenced by the viscous spittle forming at the corners of his mouth. Each inward breath evoked a rasping snore followed by a silent pause, this soundless phase extending over several seconds, sufficiently long to evoke our concerns that the old fella may have expired. It was clear that the waitresses’ thoughts were along similar lines, each covertly monitoring him for signs of life as they cleared neighbouring tables. When the outbreath arrived, we could detect a collective sense of relief in the room.  

I squeezed Mrs Jones’ hand and we turned to face each other. It seemed our minds were reaching a common conclusion.

‘Life’s too short,’ I said.


Four hours later we could both be found in Paddy’s Bar, each holding a pint of Caffrey’s, screeching a tuneless rendition of ‘The Wild Rover’.  

Photograph courtesy of Samandale at         



  1. --Mr. Jones,
    your writing is delightful & descriptive.
    I was sitting w/ you watching the snoring man &
    when he exhaled, I was there, too, applauding! x

  2. I'm afraid my snoring would have been present, too, had I been sitting there. At 63, I look back at the times I went to work after nights of no sleep, and partied that night after saying earlier that I was going home and sleeping. Now, if I sit back in a recliner and start to watch a movie, I'm lucky to make it twenty minutes before the slumber arrives. I find myself, at my "tender" age, being unable to sleep more than three hours at a time at night. Napping seems to be more of a necessity since this became a regular routine. Three hours here, two hours there, twenty minutes sitting in front of the keyboard, it, too, is part of the "get it while you can" philosophy. As I'm able to walk long distances at moderate speeds, I'm not quite ready for the walker with wheels. I am, however, ready for a nap. Excuse me while I'm still able to ...

    1. Hi Rich
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I can identify with the need for additional catnaps as we get older. However, I can honestly say that I've yet to fall asleep in a public bar. At the time, the image of the abandoned, snoozing old man seemed a powerful reminder of that old adage of 'enjoy life while you can'.
      Best wishes.

  3. Reenergized when face-to-face with mortality.

    1. Yes, Al, it was a powerful reminder to enjoy the moment (as we won't always be around to).

  4. Wow. This post leaves me wordless simply because of its profound point. Of course, rumpy-pumpy (what a wonderful word!!) is never beyond Alpha Hubby's thoughts and his idea of a great ending to a wild evening but your descriptive point was so hysterical! I remember the saying, "Going out with your boots on" - we have no intention of retiring or slowing down. We're have way too much fun!! ENJOY life - such a great point!!

    1. Thank you. I'm pleased that my story resonated with you