An Alphabet Of My Life: K


When I was quite young, I don’t remember the exact age, my Mum gave me some advice.

“Be kind”.
“Be kind to animals”.
“Be kind to people”.
“Help people when you can”.
“Kindness costs nothing”.
“If you cannot say something kind, then say nothing at all”.

I took those words to heart, and have tried to live by them since. I went into a career as an EMT that required kindness as ‘stage one’ of any treatment. I was always kind to any animals or pets I encountered, and treated them with great respect.

When I felt I could say nothing kind to someone, I tried to be constructive or helpful instead.

Over 60 years later, I am still trying my very best to put kindness first.

Thanks, Mum.

An Alphabet Of My Life: J


There are times in my life when I have been jealous, I admit that.

After my first marriage broke down, I was jealous of the fact that my wife got to remain in the nice house in Wimbledon, that eventually netted her a small fortune when she sold it decades later.

I have sometimes been jealous about younger girlfriends. That was based on my own insecurities about age difference, and believing that they would be attracted to younger men if they went anywhere without me. I suppose that can be considered natural, but it affected at least two relationships, teaching me that jealousy can be destructive and pointless.

On the plus side, I have never been jealous about rich people, or possessions. If someone had a better car than me, or a lot more money, I often thought that they had much more to lose, and would ultimately be less happy than I was.

I was jealous of talent.

Unable to play an instrument, or publish a best-selling book, I felt jealousy when confronted with the likes of David Bowie, or Charles Dickens. What did they have, that I lacked? It took me a long time to discover that I lacked perseverance, determination, and not least talent in those fields.

Luckily, I was never once jealous of privilege, the scourge of British society. They could keep their stately homes, those aristocratic benefits, their private education, their silver spoons and inheritances. It never seemed to make them better people, and certainly did not make them nicer or happier people.

I grew older, and became less and less jealous in time.

Wives had to have their free time with friends, so why be jealous of that? If I trusted them, respected them, married them, then that should be enough to make me happy about what they did when I was not around.

Undeniably, everyone is jealous about something, at some time in their lives. If they deny that, I am sorry to say that they are lying.

But live long enough, and you will be content to discover that jealousy is simply wasted energy.

Then you can relax.

Churchill Quotes

I am not a huge fan of Winston Churchill. He may have led Britain through a difficult war, but at heart he was an aristocrat, an elitist, and a racist.

However, many of his quotes are gems, and worth remembering in modern times.

One for a certain Mr D Trump.
The price of greatness is responsibility.

One for the politically ignorant.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

One for Mr Biden to remember.
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.

One for those who acquitted Trump to reflect on.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

A prescient view of ‘Fake News’.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

Something for every country to consider, in the time of a pandemic.
Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have

One for nationalists and patriots to think hard about.
The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

One that we can all relate to in the UK.
The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.

And the last one, for our consumerist society.
We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty.

Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

The wisdom of age

I have been thinking about age this morning, and how it has often been associated with wisdom. When you get older, you begin to think a lot about age, believe me. Or perhaps it is only me?

In your seventh decade, you might be expected to have learned from mistakes in the past. Not only your own, but those of others around you. All those jobs, the relationships, friendships, and the thousands of people you have encountered in passing. That should all have rubbed off on you by now, surely? You should be mellow, enjoying some contentment, and spreading the wisdom of that experience far and wide.

But in some cases, certainly mine, emotions overwhelm commonsense. You continue to make all the same mistakes, the bad choices, and the wrong decisions. As the numbers of birthdays grow, some strange mixture of nostalgia and desperation often prevents you from accessing that wisdom, even though you know it is there, deep inside. The tolerance you were developing in middle age is harder to maintain, and the temper of your wilder youth seems to be trying to make a comeback.

You might well try to impart some of your knowledge and wisdom to the younger generations, but there is every chance they won’t want to hear it, and consider it to be little more than the babbling of an old bore. There is a place in the social structure that you are supposed to inhabit, and still your brain is telling you that it is not time for you to go there. Not just yet. Better to look back to when you thought everything was better, and in the process foolishly trying to recapture some of that youthful spirit.

Remember when you had ideals, dreams, and aspirations? That doesn’t go away. But the frustration of never having realised most of them comes along too. Grumpiness can become the default condition of old age, and wisdom will take a back seat once that takes hold. When you are young, you look ahead to times when you are sure everything will be good. Leaving school or college, owning your first car, getting married, travelling to that place you always wanted to see, or maybe buying your own home. As you tick off those milestones in life, you conveniently ignore the fact that it wasn’t quite as exciting as you had expected it to be. You reach out to the next ones instead. Children, a good career, grandchildren, then retirement on a comfortable pension.

On the way, wise old heads tell you it is not going to be what you expect, but you ignore them. What do they know? You will do it differently, and you will make it all work. They are just old and bitter after all, resenting your youth and vitality. When you are older, you are never going to be like that. Then one day, you realise that you are no different to them, and that everything they told you was true. But you refuse to accept it of course. It feels similar, but you know you were different. Your time was the real golden age, and you will be sure to be wiser than them, when your time comes.

But it wasn’t, and you won’t.