Are you enjoying your retirement at present, or what? We received your post card from somewhere in France. Writing a bit hard to read. Did you eat many frogs? I should get on.
OK Bollox, I hope the right side of Yorkshire went well. I had a lovely time with Ron and Della and have been invited back in autumn for cepe picking. Might stay for a while as there’s not much happening here in the great retiree ennui of Siberian style exile. No good complaining about your lack of money ‘cos education will never pay anything but piss nuts and lumpy cold vomit.
I don’t care a camel hump who owes an email: me or you? I think my dream like existence in retirement sends me to places only the socially deprived, the long term unemployed or those dependent on social, marooned in sinking estates, inhabit. Or, maybe being buggered in a gay sauna. No, Eton. Now, where did that slip out from?
I’m totally fucked, spending most evenings recovering from my day time efforts. Am I too old to go gallivanting to become a stand up comedian? I should have started doing it 25 years ago. I really did waste my youth. It never occurred to me to do it then. Worse, I have a hiatus hernia, result of Wan King, ancient Chinese hand exercises. Well it could have been worse. Lazy bastard Jock has been away almost all this academic term with an alleged virus. His name is mud at work: unlike yourself. His regular repeated long term sick leaves are remembered by everybody.
Honestly, I’m buried in work. Marking and remarking. It is the end of the semester and the usual problems. The weak students often insist on aiming for high marks. How do you tell them that their linguistic ability is not up to critical analysis? That they’re thick and they’d be better off flippin’ burghers or pouring coffee.
Any way I have not enough energy to write much more. I lost at least 2 friends through not writing back to them. An Australian accountant who was also a trained nurse and great company, who used to say ‘Fuck me dead’ as a phrase. He was very political and tight. Very pleasant with it. He went to work in Hong Kong and wrote to me from there. I did not reply. Now I email you, speak to friend Terry on phone about 3 times a week. I think we have had the same conversation for the last 15 years; his latest change of job, Buddhism etc. Speak to Malik every few weeks. He is too busy to do much else. He was my best man. I speak to my sister once a week and that’s about it.
I remember going to a pub in my twenties and knowing half the people there. I was part of the Jewish tribe. Of course, I did not appreciate it at the time. I thought, amongst other things, stand up would give me a social life. In fact my fantasy world is going to solve all my problems.
You know I still can’t believe that both my parents are dead. How do really young people cope I do not know. Death is a great release. I fear the unknown but at least you leave all this shit and stupidity. Would miss sunny day walks and things like that.
Yeah, typical, resurrecting doubts and questions as you realise your egg timer is dribbling sand faster than the gags you attempt fall face down in a trendy Camden Town stand up gig pub. Bloody hell, are they all like the ones I watched you in, remember, when we bid our leave before time? You saying you had another to perform at, me lying it was first day from prison and needed fresh air. Worse, you old codger, is to conclude as old bastards tend to, that you were too young to appreciate the opportunities you wastrelled earlier in life. Of course ‘yer knackered: you’ve got two kids and a demanding partner. Forget about what can’t be summoned again: youth has gone together with the energy that could have changed your miserable, head banging life. You’ll have a wonderful time as a grumpy, misanthropic retired teacher. Shite, imagine if your offspring are still living in the blissful family abode? Another few years and your kiddiewonks will be in in their early twenties, bounding with rampant sex wanting their mates to stay over and fuck: you’ll need to sound proof your bedroom. Or move to a park bench … No, you’re not going for respite in my ancient stone hovel.
Ah, the cheap paradoxes of existence. The “if onlys” write large in neon: the sadder we regret the stronger the blaze of post hoc illumination and the louder discordant epiphanic hymns are wailed. Are you seeing for the first time the illusionary sparklers doused at birth to trajectory your life into obscurity with no hope of changing course?
The con of the ‘change your life in ten days’ industry: books, DVDs, life coaches in fancy hair dos, driving Beemers. The gullible being sold different words in the vain hope they might change their lousy emotions. Brain dung, emotional poo for the gym fixated, gluten free gutted nutters. Nothing changes, merely the realisation the only sane question in existence is how one can accept what one is. That’s the pathetic realisation; life passing away, praying we won’t (too much) self harm as we wade through the shattered illusions of what might have been.
I was mightily impressed with the following from Davos – rich man’s club, spectators looked down upon by insiders, all those super civilized Europeans: imagine their views of third world inhabitants. However, back to the point: “Don’t study history,” Shimon Peres told the assembled powerful. “There’s nothing to study except a chain of mistakes and many wars.” It was more important to use imagination rather than memory. The great issues facing us – energy, fresh air, water, science, human relations – were borderless. “Think rather than remember,” he urged. “What may happen has nothing to do with what has happened.”
So back to life and your pained, angry responses.
Not believing your parents are no more is natural: you believe something exists beyond life’s day to day drudgery. With your faith you believe they’re no longer on this earth because they’ve entered another stage in life’s predicament – mortality – and you, one day, will re-unite with them. Logically that’s the consequence of your belief. I start from another angle: mine died before I ever knew them, therefore my mind has abandoned their memory, as I too must, in the order of things, abandon this existence.
I entered my sixth decade not long back, the age of Reason, and I’m still making plans. Writing an average of 4-5,000 words a week – actually seven last week. Weekend in Oxford and the following week in Cricklewood. Loved Oxford: masses of studious laptop creative people in cafes. Many Asians, mainly Chinese extraction – I think. Should have taken up the place at St. Antony’s for my D.Phil all those years ago, but time and circumstances conspire to flush out the half way motivated. Not my trajectory Abe, merely a pleasant fantasy to prove I could intellectually slay the toffs and academic elites with my prowess.
I never know how my day’s work will end. The words flow and the story develops from the previous full stop. I currently have two themes to explore, one based in London and the other a global political tale. But no more information. I’ll not share my plots or story lines with anybody: I’ve been stolen from before and won’t make that mistake again.
I don’t approve of you using the word buried in relation to your work: that’s despondency either conscious or unconscious and smacks of victimhood. Students should bid for the grade they want and should be marked accordingly. Let them declare, mission statement, what they want to achieve and then feel free, critically, to hold them to their desires. Try that as an Inset day.
One final point: what will you say twenty five years from now about what you know in your heart you should have done today? Answer that with honesty: I dare you.