Thursday, April 28, 2016

A letter to Phil

Dear Phil

This seems such a strange way to write to you, but maybe it works for you too.  I dreamed about you last night, but it was a difficult dream, and I was thinking about reporting you missing. Oh my, I'd be a bit late for that, wouldn't I?

I know I haven't seen you since before Alex was born, and he'll be 25 this year. My son is a man, my daughter is a woman. They are still your nephew and niece, of course, even though you've never met. So I am pondering perspective again - a theme that is running through my thoughts so much this week. What perspective might you have on these two young people, who you have never met yet are close to you by blood?

I guess it doesn't matter, because blood is not thicker than water, it's just different. It does mean that forgiveness has more context though, I believe. I want to understand forgiveness, because there are things which anger me. I read once that being angry was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I'm working on it, and the anger isn't directed at you, but that's another story (and probably a whole book, not a blog post or two). And we should first forgive those we love, or have loved, perhaps.

What's happening now in my life is not what I imagined at all ten or even six years ago. It's five years since the marriage broke up, several jobs along, and a couple of bands too! The things that change are important, but not as important as the things that don't change. You will always be my brother, I will always be your sister.

Our friend Terry passed away last year (yes, good old Kenwood), and we only just found out.  I wonder if I would find out if you died? Maybe that's why I dreamed about you in the context I did last night. It's strange how the mind take all the things in your consciousness and mixes them all up in dreams (well it does for me).  The most odd bit of the dream was the dowager dressed all in black, with toes for fingers. I woke this morning drained, as if I had been drugged. And I wanted to write to you.

I'll try and write more often this year.


Perspective and reflective

Nessie at home: from

I realised this week that I’ve been blogging for ten years. My, it doesn’t seem that long until I look back at some of my earlier posts and realise how naieve they are. It’s about perspective, isn’t it? At the time, it seemed relevant. Today, I have a different view and if I had the time I might have gone and edited many of those posts.  But I don’t have the time, and they stand as they are.

Of course, as I observed in my last blog, our perspective changes with age. But some things in our mind are timeless, even though in reality they most certainly are not. 

About fifteen years ago our family visited Scotland and called in on a good friend who worked at the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition in Drumnadrochit. He had been so close to us in the past – a fellow London musician who had supported our bands as sound engineer, and in later years also played with us in a few ad hoc, fun musical conglomerations.

Fifteen years ago he was probably around 65 but in my mind he was always that younger man, about 45 (which was still much older than us when we first met him). Fifteen years on from 65 would have made him an old man of 80 today. Sadly I learned that he had passed away last December, and we had no chance to mourn or pay our respects.  I can see him now though, he’s still got curly blond hair, a ginger beard and wears a big hat.  He rolls his own in a very secretive, close to his body sort of way. He loves his heavy rock, and is an excellent parordy writer. I know I saw him grey and thinning at our last meeting, but that later image is not as strong as that of the friend who we spent so many musical hours with in our younger years.

Once again it is the strongest images that remain.  Terry my dear friend, you are remembered and loved and still playing AC DC as loud as you can.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A coat of age

Pre-lycra cycling days

As I was walking the other day a young lady cycled by, and a much older man turned to watch her pass. She was young, attractive, and sped by in tight lycra. A passer-by muttered something about a ‘dirty old man’, but  if a young man had turned and looked, would he have been called a 'dirty young man' for such frank admiration of the cyclist? I imagine not. 

This little scene made me think. How does that old man  see himself? Perhaps he was looking out of the eyes of a young man, who in his younger day may have offered the lady cyclist a broad smile and received a smile in return. His aged observation meant no offence or insult, he was just admiring from his internal perspective, not external appearance.

I have a very different picture in my head of myself, to how I look to others. Inside, I feel like I am still 23, but somehow that young woman got zipped into this heavy, wrinkled suit called ‘age’. They slow me down, those years now layered on to my younger, inner self. 

So upon a skeleton that has remained largely unchanged (apart from some deterioration from arthritis), there is extra weight and my skin now wears a map of wrinkles, whilst the landscape of my body is disguised with a proliferation of moles and variations in pigmentation. 

Younger cyclists pass me easily as I slowly, but steadily, pedal from city to car. I am cloaked in anonymity, in the beige of middle age that both cloisters and protects.  But I have 23 year old eyes, and they look at the world through that prism of perspective.  I can admire a good physique, I can enjoy good conversation, and appreciate the gift of youth and not feel the burden of obligation from such engagement.  I find it interesting, the 'inside' and the 'outside' that each of us carries, our coat of age.

So next time you talk to an older person, don’t judge them by the years they wear, but look at the eyes, and see if you can catch the years they feel.

Photo courtesy of