Thursday, 21 February 2013
It's that bloody bastard age that's messing us about again. Only yesterday we were greeted by the news that Kevin Ayers had died aged 68. In the 60's I'd heard of The Soft Machine but didn't really take much notice of their music and if you'd asked before yesterday about him, I'd have shrugged.
The thing is he's of my generation. What's worrying is that it's my generation that is now popping its clogs - at an increasingly alarming rate. Only a week or so ago Reg Presley of the Troggs had his last Wild Fling.
You got used to a few rock musicians dying prematurely, that was all part of the deal with the Devil - a rapid, brilliant flame out. You felt that it was OK for Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin etc, etc to sing their last chord, they were a generation or two before you, but now it's my generation exiting stage left.
The other week I met up with a couple of friends who I've known for 40 years. That's an unbelievable span of time. We're all pretty bashed about now, but then..... Anyway one of my friends is a priest and he'd recently helped out at a funeral in Slough.
It was of a woman I had known all those years ago; I can't recall when I'd last seen her. Must have been at some do of my priest friend's. When I knew her she was with a tall bearded Scotsman who smoked cigarettes and a pipe - well we all did in the early 70's when life was inviolate. She was also a heavy smoker.
I learnt that she was found dead in her house - she'd been lying in her front room cold for 4 days. Her partner of over 40 years knew nothing of this nor, if he had, would he have understood. For the last 6 months he'd been in a care home with advanced dementia.
Six months ago his partner had given up the struggle of looking after him in their family home. My priest friend said she'd had a heart attack - she'd been in poor health for a while - smoking hadn't helped. Smoking is also linked with the onset of dementia I was told. Such explanations, whilst reassuring a non smoker, couldn't cut through the shock.
When I mentioned this to my mate who also knew the couple from the 70's - the one moving in with his girlfriend after 40 years of bachelorhood - he said as cool as a cucumber "That news is something we'll have to get increasingly used to."
Do you suppose that's why a programme on the radio this evening about Alain-Fournier's "Le Grand Meaulnes held me transfixed. A book I read about 40 years ago when reminiscence was only imagined by a young man in London.
Now remembering takes up so much time.