Some thoughts on my past

After being diagnosed with 'advanced cancer' I blogged about how I would be taking time out to review things over the eighty years (seventy conscious ones) of my lifetime. 'Things I have done and things I have left undone'.

Trouble is,  I guess like most of us I tend to forget, accidentally or on purpose, the actions or experiences of which I am not proud or which made me (and sometimes mine) unhappy. The reverse is also true. So I remember the green fields, forget the dark and barren ones. Also, fields of any hue are not necessarily fit for publication here, and I must remember that the words of an old man with little to lose can still hurt, and I have no wish to hurt.

However in looking back I can say these things ...

I was and still am most unhappy about my parents' divorce and the long term splitting up of the family into which I was born. To this day I do not think divorce acceptable. A deal should be a deal, marriage included for better or for worse. It is one's job to make it better, whatever the developing circumstances or human frailities. If one  cannot make it work happily one grits one's teeth and get on with it, taking care above all not to hurt your offspring, ( your primary raison d'etre). Forget the palliatives and self-justifications. Tough but necessary. A deal is a deal - for sure one of the pillars of human civilisation.

I was very, very unhappy about the loss of my mother when my father committed me to public (boarding) school aged eleven. It took me a number of years to find an acceptable balance. However, I have looked back with increasing affection on my days at Abingdon School. I realise now how I learned far more than English and Science and Mathematics and Latin and Greek. I learned how to live, i.e., to quote Kipling (from memory); how to meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same. This is a fundamental building block of contentment during one's life on earth.


Male birds all had to fly the nest aged seventeen or eighteen in my youth. It was called National Service. Of course I had actually flown my own family nest aged only ten so I found life in the Royal Air Force not all that much different than life in my boarding school. But now I had real wings. I quickly learned about living and prospering with young men from all backgounds, about girls and the contest for girls, about the inescapable realities of money in and money out.

I was very happy indeed, the week after my demobilisation, to find myself with a brand new family - a lovely young Yorkshire wife - even if I had right then no visible means of supporting it (her). So we lived in a succession of bedsits and flats in Cambridge. I canvassed factories and businesses looking for a job - any job, until I secured warehouse employment with a small builders merchant. Looking back, those fields seem indeed so very, very green. We had nothing but each other, and very soon our family, but at no time did I/we feel impoverished. I learned then that it's not about what you 'have' in any material sense, but about the truth in the biblical 'Faith, Hope and Charity (i.e. Love ) and the greatest of these is Charity (Love). 

Love for each other and for the human history on which our present is built; for the 'arts' and for the the world at large, and all that's in it. It is our inheritance to love and look after as best as we are able. We have to try harder, much harder and much more effectively, at that. More later.





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