Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Sitting on the kerb between the cundie and the lamp post in Clement Park

It's no secret that I have become very agitated by the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. I have attempted to slacken the tension by speaking with or writing to friends sympathetic to my views but I am sure their patience will run out soon. It seems I find the possibility of not having influence on the future unbearable. I have come to the conclusion that in part my anxiety can be explained as an unavoidable characteristic of my journey into old age. At first I was not conscious of it but now I begin to see that I am coming truly to understand that my life span is limited. I no longer have the physical capacity to do all the things I used to enjoy and the time I have left to say the things I want to say, and to shape the world in my way, is inexorably diminishing. This may all sound pompous but my guess is that most of us have at least a vague notion of how we would like the world to be and after all we have no reverse dimension that allows to undo those things we wish we had not done.

My desperation is reinforced by the realisation that I will fail in my aim. This awareness seems to have crept upon me stealthily and unseen, but there is a sense in which I’ve known it all along. On the night of my 40th birthday I was working in a children’s home in the north midlands of England and while I sat on the upstairs landing waiting for the children to settle, it dawned upon me that I would never have the time to do all the things I had hoped to do. This was nothing to do with my abilities but more to do with spatial and temporal limitations. I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. 

How different from the prospect I had one sunny summer's day in the mid-1950s while sitting on the kerb between the cundie and the lamp post in front of our house in Clement Park. It was about 8.30 in the morning and I was waiting for JL and FJ to finish their breakfasts hoping their mothers would soon let them out to play. There were so many possibilities for the day. We could play fitba', or catty and batty, play Gerries and Britishers, or cowboys and indians or we could play Kerby or make a den or we could….….... The prospects for adventure were endless. The future could be thought of without fear.

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John Stein comments : Your post really struck a chord with me.  I got the anxiety, and the wish I could do more.  I have written two letters to the editor of our newspaper, one about our fascination with guns, the other about police shootings, one near here in Baton Rouge.  I did not send them.  Those who already agreed with my points, well, they don’t need to hear from me.  Those who don’t agree--their beliefs would not be influenced in the slightest.

And then your letter about Jeremy Corbyn.  Sad to see some of the same dynamics in Britain that we have here.

My wife’s favorite quote:  May you live in interesting times.  Ancient Chinese curse.

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