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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Time's Winged Chariot

Let's hear it for life. Let's beat the drum for that continuing heart beat, that feeble but vital pulse, the murmured word as the blood is suctioned away.

Too much death recently, far too much. Head chopping, body shattering, unexpected, undeserved death is hitting our iPads, iPhones and Samsungs like a flock of incontinent magpies feasting on a harvest of over-ripe figs.

I have to admit my erotic dreams featuring me and Lady Penelope and "Stingray" are often certailed by the Grim Reaper at the bottom of my bed reminding me that I'm almost out of my three score and ten.

The reports of deaths of those in their early, middle and late sixties give me cause for pause. The fact that Robin Williams topped himself doesn't help. It just highlights the existential threat that we older folk face.

Let's face it (if only we could) death is a bummer.

Frankly as a child of the 60's I'm in a double bind. My passport to being a child of the age of Aquarius was Love, Love,Love. Constant bonking, or in my case constant thoughts of constant bonking with all those beautiful babes. Thoughts are as real as deeds says the Good Book. The fact that I didn't get a million miles near having it away with Jane Fonda in Barbarella is no salvation. I am damned.

Which makes me extremely angry. Because of all those missed opportunities to bed those fab dolly birds in '66, '67, '68, '69 etc. - but didn't because I thought God was looking over my shoulder and would have had a front seat. 

I should have joined a cult. One of those "Sex gets you to Heaven" cults. I thought about it as I was sitting my Maths finals at University. It was obvious that I was going to get a pretty crap degree, if I passed at all. My mates, who for some reason appeared to have no problem with three hour papers in large rooms with hundreds of other brains, had careers marked out. More importantly they had nookie on tap - lovely, long legged, long haired, doe eyed beauties - and me, nothing. A lonely bedsit in Dollis Hill.

Can you blame me? Had I the balls I'd have been on a plane to L.A., Paris, Marrakesh or taken the Last Train to Clarksville and joined a boiling, bum bouncing, barrage of testosterone. But no....I tried to become an actuary.

Which in an interesting way brings us back to death. That's what actuaries are all about. Making money out of dying.

This morning I hit upon "The Sounds of the Sixties" with Brian Matthews. It was on the Beeb's iPlayer. I have no idea when it was actually broadcast because it was a podcast. There I am time shifting with a DJ who is still broadcasting in his 80's.

I'm surrounded by the echos of my youth. Brian Matthews, Cliff Richard and Tony Blackburn, who was on "The One Show" this Friday - all in the final trimester of their moral coils, their vales of pain, their "out, out brief candle".

To cap it all, there are old London Routemaster buses running around the streets of this great city of ours with a massive blown up visage of 74 year old Ringo Starr. I thought it was for an AgeUK campaign but apparently he's modelling John Varvatos' Fall/Winter collection. Time and the Ages of Man have been cast adrift.

It's all the Doctor's fault - this rip in the space/time continuum. His rebirth has peeled away the onion skin of my experience and I'm staring at the Final Frontier and singing along to Herman Hermit's "I'm Into Something Good" at a Warner's Holiday Camp somewhere dreadful in 1964.

And those songs about dying: they really get to you when you're young: ironic or what? "Leader of the Pack", "Terry", "Knocking on Heaven's Door", "Missing You", "The Monster Mash". 

It becomes profound and moving when someone close to dying sings about it. "Hurt" by Johnny Cash is one such performance. Watching him singing/talking this song is so intense it hurts.

No, as that great 20th Century American philospher once said "It's not the men in your life that matters, it's the life in your men." She knew what she was talking about.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Days of Wine and Roses

I need a drink.......

As if life is not difficult enough, what with strife, pestilence, sin and the Tories: we get a load of liver fluke come flying at us.

It's a full blown crisis. In the Accident and Emergency, in the Care Homes for the Elderly, in the supermarket aisles and in the pubs, restaurants and  in our own homes.

We're all going to hell in a beer/wine/whiskey/port/sherry/vodka/brandy barrel. That (extremely) regular tipple is yours and mine liquid death certificate. The merest sniff of alcohol may well induce carcinomas in almost every known, and many yet to be discovered, organs of the body. Heart attacks, diabetics, blindness, depression and Alzheimer; not to mention road deaths, horrible mutilation, murder, domestic violence and uncontrollable urinating in the most inappropriate places.

Boy, do I need a drink.

Foolishly I listened to "You and Yours" on Radio 4 this lunchtime. The whole programme was given over to the perils of booze. We had doctors telling us of the untold damage that devil Al K Hol was inflicting on our poor bodies. Reformed alcoholics rang in wringing out our livers with their tales of endless binges and the arduous climb up to the top of  Mount Sobriety. Drinkers phoned in with tales of nightly bottles of St Emilion and Petrus to accompany their evening meal and how it was ruining their lives.

After an hour of that and the suicide inducing tones of Winifred Robinson...I needed a drink.

On top of which I learnt that Robin Williams has gone and topped himself. Just to emphasis the menace of substance abuse, including alcohol.

I never went a bundle on Mork and Mindy - the title was enough to put me off; but I saw him doing his stand up routine and it was sensational. He was fabulous as the voice of the Genie in the cartoon "Aladdin"- in those innocent days when Persian Nights had nothing to do with beheadings and genocide, Blair, Bush and all those poor bastards who got in their way.

Of course, the great irony is that laughter is so good at blunting all our deepest fears and terrors, turning them into mockeries and absurdities. Yet so often those who are the instruments of laughter are unable to tame their fears and forebodings and slip silently over the edge into suicide's deep, cold waters.

Last night was laughter night at the National. "Great Britain" a joyous, fun poking, vaudeville of   a play which took aim at every institution especially the press. The plot was phone hacking and it detoured along police corruption alley, fornicating politicians cul de sac and press baron boulevard.

We sat in the OAP Circle: we were completely surrounded by brown suits, baggy designer jeans and Coco Chanel. It's bad enough doing the Mexican Wave in the 2s and 9p when the latecomers need to get to their seats in the middle of the row. It's an absolute riot when it's performed by a row of arthritic 70 pluses. That and a laugh a minute was well worth the price of the ticket.

In a couple of weeks' time we're off to see "Medea" by that well known Athenian stand up comedian Euripedes.

I'm not sure whether I'll need a drink before or after that.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Being an intellectual is not all fun.

Much as you may think it is, having one's head full of fascinating and unique thoughts all the time can be a bit of an arse.

I know because I live with a genius. It's not the missus, although she is, in her own way, unique and quite unrepeatable. It is one of our cats.

The name on his birth certificate is GinjatheNinja. His early escapades - thumping all the local cats, lunging at legs,arms, faces and private parts - justified his anthroponym. However, we soon learnt that this warrior, was in fact a worrier.

As he aged he became less a Bruce Lee and more and more Belinda Lee. The once "High Plains Drifter" of Milton Road had turned into "Winnie the Po and a Blustery Day" - all wind and little substance.

It was then as he lost his Bronco Lane persona, when he stopped trying to live out his fantasy as Die Hard that his true nature emerged. He was a genius. Initially it was rather frightening - he was Blofeld, he was Bond's greatest adversary; using his super feline brain to thwart us in all our endeavours.

Trips to the vet - thwarted; being nice to neighbours - thwarted, being nice to the postman - thwarted.

We despaired. Except when we were dodging his claws and teeth as he pinioned us against the wall in the kitchen 'cause his food was not at the right temperature.

We persevered. Scratch marks, a deep sense of failure and worthlessness not withstanding, those glimpses of his angelic face and the hint of something magical behind the devilish mask drove us on.

Slowly GinjatheNinja turned into Billy Bongo.

He doesn't answer to either name. He might incline his noble bonce if you address him as " Your All Seeing Feline" or "King Cat of Katmandu". That's when he's not on the computer updating  his Facebook page or tweeting.

The reason why the www is overwhelmed by pussies is because of our cat. He has a network of feline operatives across the globe. From Top Cat in New York to inscrutable Wing Wang Poo in the Forbidden City in China. His network ensures that cats get top billing. Dogs - loveable but brainless mutts - haven't a chance.   

He's his own cookie. Wherever we go he follows - his faithful entourage taking notes of all our doing. In the loo he's there, in the kitchen he's comparing my cooking with that of his hero Elizabeth David.  If he gets bored with a repeat of "Morse", he'll switch on  the DVD player  to watch "Prometheus" - he has no taste.

I found out last week that he'd hacked into my bank account. A "CatsOurUs" entry of £300, which I later discovered was for a couple of steaks of wagyu beef, was the final straw.

He's been sent to the Priory and has his Nectar points confiscated.

He's out in 6 weeks....