13th January 2022
“Time, He’s waiting in the wings,
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me, Boy” David Bowie ‘Time’ Aladdin Sane 1973
How’s the New Year going for you so far? I’m working fairly hard at the moment as I now have a deadline for my publication date for my book. 4th April seemed like a long way away when I decided on it, but now, when I think of all there is to do to ‘get it over the line’ (one of the favourite sayings of Michael Heppell, genius mentor of Write That Book Masterclass fame) it doesn’t seem like very long at all! It’s only eleven weeks this coming Monday to the big day. Bear in mind that I want to allow three or four weeks for printing, in case of any problems, and suddenly, it’s only 7 or 8 weeks until all the writing and editing must be complete! Wow! Have I set myself a task!
You would think, especially with all this Covid-19 business, everyone having been stuck at home for two years or so, that time would seem endlessly dragging, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way for me. There’s an old joke that says, “Life is like a toilet roll – the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes” and that analogy is spot on as far as I’m concerned.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I remember being a child at the start of the school summer holidays. Six whole weeks of freedom and fun stretched ahead and seemed to go on forever! Days spent in Barrow with our little gangs of friends, going to the beach at Biggar Bank or Earnse Bay; walks to Rampside and the Coast Road; wandering around the ruins of Furness Abbey. Hours on the putting green in Barrow Park after racing up and down the Cenotaph Steps followed by an ice cream from the Kiosk, sometimes even a ‘99’ if funds would allow. We would go out straight after breakfast, and no one bothered about where we were, as long as we were home before the street lights came on. Our parents reckoned they would hear soon enough if anything had gone wrong, and never worried about us. If anything, they wanted us out from under their feet, but nobody bothered about employing childcare or adult supervision. We were like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, having our adventures in our own way and dealing with whatever scrapes we got into ourselves. In those days you could rely on the kindness of strangers – it was not unheard of to knock at a cottage door if you were thirsty and some kind soul would give you a glass of water, or fill up your empty bottle. You could even stick out your thumb and a sympathetic motorist might give you a lift if they were going your way. Can you imagine that today? If some CCTV camera caught a car stopping and offering a couple of kids a lift, they’d be accused of all sorts of nasty stuff.
I’m sure it’s not that there are now many more instances of child abduction or murder than there ever were, but in those far off days there wasn’t the media coverage there is today screaming headlines scary enough to terrify any parent. Crimes were kept local, and unless particularly horrific, weren’t usually broadcast nationwide. There was no 24-hour world-wide and national news being posted to social media, or mobile phones being updated constantly, all we had was the news on the radio and two or three TV Channels and daily in the newspapers. I remember the Moors Murders was big news, but that was a hundred miles away on the outskirts of Manchester, so our parents never thought of keeping us home or escorting us everywhere. It was not considered child neglect for a child to walk to school alone – my own commute was ¾ mile, four times a day (I went home for lunch) come rain hail or shine. If I’d asked for a lift, my mother would have thought I was getting soft! This lack of supervision meant we had to learn to deal with any situation that might befall us – in pre-mobile phone days you couldn’t just ring for an adult to come and rescue you. I think kids today just are not as prepared for life as we were, they’re too wrapped up in cotton wool and protected from everything – it’s no wonder they’re so sensitive!
I don’t think it was particular to the north of England either – not that I had that much experience of anywhere else – but I spent most of my spare time reading (nothing much changed there!) and loved the Enid Blyton ‘Famous Five’ and other books of hers; the Castle of Adventure, The Island of Adventure – you know the drill. I thought her characters were so lucky to be able to go off on their own having adventures and solving mysteries – can you imagine children around the age of 11 being allowed to go off for a week’s camping nowadays? Maybe in their parents’ back garden, but only if that was surrounded by 8 feet high fencing and locked gates!
As usual, I’m digressing again – wallowing in the memories of a long-ago childhood and feeling sorry for the children today who will never experience that sort of freedom.
I was talking about the passage of time. I firmly believe that the older you get, the quicker time passes. In my head I’m still a young woman – but woe is me – the spirit is willing but the body is weak these days. Gone are the times when I could work all day and dance all night! And is it just me, but when I think of the 1990s, it seems very recent, not thirty years ago. My sister’s eldest son will be thirty-two this year – so why are the pictures of seeing him being born still so clear in my head? Yes, it was one of the most important and happiest occasions of my life, but it still seems like only yesterday.
I know that I’m not alone in thinking the past was so much better than today – it was in so many ways. And the older I get, the better it seemed, so I have to try and remember the things that weren’t so good too, just to stay balanced. However, at the same time, I don’t want to be negative – negativity doesn’t improve anything, least of all the emotions. I’m definitely a glass-half-full type of person – more than that even. I recently posted a picture on Facebook that said ‘Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days, you know there are better ones coming.’ I firmly believe that. Having said that, sometimes I have to think that if I expect the worst, at least I can only be pleasantly surprised!
The thing is, you have to have the bad times to appreciate the good ones – the trick is to have fewer bad times and more good ones. When confronted with disaster, or anticipating a horrible but necessary experience, for example like an exam or a hospital procedure, I will probably moan about it, but eventually I just think to myself, ‘well, it can only go on for so long. In a short while I’ll be past this and can forget all about it,’ and if you think about it, that applies to pretty much anything – nothing lasts forever. Of course, that applies to the good things too, but I’m trying to avoid negativity here! The old adage ‘Time Heals All Ills’ is irrefutably true.
Probably one of the worst things that ever happened to me was when my beloved Glyn died. We knew it was coming, we just didn’t expect it so soon. At first, I thought I would never survive it. I thought my life was over every bit has much as his and that I had no future without him. There was a huge Glyn-shaped hole in my life – which in truth will never be filled – but at the time it might as well have been a ‘black hole’ in space, just swallowing up everything within its reach. I had some counselling, which honestly didn’t help much; I read a lot of books about bereavement and joined some social media groups about dealing with grief. I found that actually, they didn’t help all that much either – after reading people’s stories, of course I sympathised, but came away thinking that all I was really doing was wallowing in misery – mine and everyone else’s too. So I stopped that – it really wasn’t doing me any good.
Now, almost eleven years later, I’m still mourning his loss, but I can’t say that I’m miserable. I miss him like crazy, but I’m not unhappy. I don’t think he would want me to be unhappy, though I must confess that sometimes I feel a bit like Queen Victoria mourning Albert for the rest of her life. Although I’ve made some new (male) friends, and have even been on a couple of dating sites, I never feel like it would be possible to have a romantic relationship with anyone else – and of course, the older I get, the less likely that is to happen anyway. Though having said that, Glyn was 68 when I met him, so maybe there’s a chance for me yet.
I’m waffling on a bit today – a bit all over the place, not that that’s unusual for me, but I think my mind is more on the writing of my book than concentrating on a blog topic, so I think I’ll cut it a bit shorter today than my usual epistles.
Please do let me know your thoughts about any of the subjects I’ve covered today! I love to read your comments and experiences – it stops me thinking I’m just sitting in a room in West Yorkshire, rabbiting on about nothing very interesting to nobody listening! Oh, actually I’m doing just that!
Until next week!