Three score and 8/10ths by Trevor Plumbly
78 this month; shit that’s old! Maybe it’s time to quit the intellectual musings and accept that the old ‘get-up-and-go’ has finally gone.
I could do the escape route, and scoff a couple of ‘goodbye pills’. I would, of course, croak, but at least senility wouldn’t be an ongoing worry. There is a bill in progress to make that legal, but to pass into law it requires a conscience vote, which in turn requires being counted and some MPs have a problem with that. Others dribble on, to the extent that makes me wish the tablets were freely available to registered voters.
Thus I’ve reached the conclusion that the government isn’t going to be of much use. You can try to dodge it a bit by stuff like meditation, but the Beatles did some of that and look what happened to them! I’ve heard tell of some of those Indian Guru blokes living well over a hundred by just looking at their belly-button, but if that’s all you’ve got to contemplate, I reckon you’re better off with the coffin lollies.
I’m currently practising a new discipline which I shall call ‘Reflective Awareness’. This involves recalling early influences that helped shape my ability to cope. Most blokes would say ‘my dad!’ but mine shot through before I was old enough to say ‘ta’. In the absence of a paternal role model, education got the job. ‘Schools are nurseries for budding minds’ (my particular nursery thrived on horseshit).
In those days schools for ‘welfare’ kids were more incubators for the dysfunctional than halls of learning; in mine, you could’ve written the roll of honour on the back of a fag packet and still left space. The teachers were either career bullies or semi-bewildered. Mr Bailey (English) regarded the cane as a daily part of his educational tool kit, dishing out ‘six of the best’ like a religious blessing. Through him I learned that the safest place was at the back of the class and, somewhat disappointedly, that despite their titles, neither ‘Moby Dick’ nor ‘Great Expectations’ contained any erotic passages.
A well-rounded boy
For Mr Harper (History), the bulk of his memory function seemed to have stopped at the Battle of Hastings. He never used a cane; maybe he’d just forgotten where he’d left it. It was always hard to decide whether he was actually teaching or talking to himself to pass the time. However, under him I did learn that History was about as important as last year’s birthday.
Looking back now though, those were the important years, full of future-proof lessons like ‘Life’s not always easy,’ courtesy of that frigid little tart Carol, she of the impenetrable underwear. ‘Sport can be painful,’ thus, a healthy wimp is more functional than a wounded player. ‘When it comes to trouble, cunning’s your best friend,’ there’s not much point in being smart if you’re in the shit. ‘Never, ever volunteer,’ it just attracts attention. To sum up: the ‘well rounded boy’ stays average and unscathed.
Goodbye cruel world
Mr. Bailey cut short my schooling by saying, ‘Plumbly, the pathway to knowledge has no ending!’ So I left school. There didn’t seem much point going somewhere that didn’t end up anywhere; a shining example of my ability to reach snap decisions. Since then, ‘I’ve done some bad, and I’ve done some good,’ as the song goes. 60 odd years on I’m still facing doubts head on: is the blended easier on the bladder than the single malt? Will the Aussie Shiraz scramble my brain quicker than the Chilean Merlot? Decisions, decisions, but I don’t want to burden you with my problems. I’ll leave you with the one truth from my research. ‘There ain’t much future in old age.’