What’s with the counting? Some sort of count down?
Well, yes actually.
Hard to put into just a few words – even for a maestro like me. Best I can do now is that it is some sort of “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” sort of moment where an attempt to explain something complex like regicide is in fact a valedictory. Those with a low level of interest, or threshold of boredom or who have got here by mistake, should take off now.
Right, if you are all sitting carefully, I’ll begin. Right now I’m feeling pretty chipper and OK with myself. I seem to be as free as ever I’ll be from depression – off the tablets anyway. My latest audit comes to a balance that I’ve fulfilled all my parental responsibilities. The two individuals have been properly raised and would say ‘F (go away)……..off’ at any uninvited initiative of mine. Grandchildren have got to the stage where they are hardly children and have sensible parents anyway. Thanks to Norma’s efforts, we are, barring major disaster anyway, financially secure. You can switch off the red light and hang up the red dress now dear.
This enviable state leaves me at a bit of a loose end. I have free time to cogitate and that audit reveals a few unclosed accounts. The first thing I have to accept is that I am not getting any younger, wiser or gaining any major influence over anything. I’m just drifting. The analogy is that drifting ships sometimes end up in difficulty on a lee shore. Disaster and tragedy intervenes before they are ready to deal with it. I do not wish to drift into anything. Whilst, at the moment, I have not the slightest desire to jump off a very high building, I feel that my time on earth has been amply filled and would not complain at a swift soldier-like ending. As Mr. Lauderdale said at ‘Batasi’, “I have seen Calcutta. I have eaten camel dung. My knees are brown, my navel is central, my conscience is clear, and my will is with my solicitors, Short and Curly”
This world we have now is not the world I signed up to. Whilst I am not religious in the sense that I follow any particular belief to the exclusion of others, I have always tried to work to a set of beliefs. My short stay with the Buddhists and consequent study demonstrated that what I tried to live by is in fact close to their ideas. So, I’m more ‘what would Buddha do’ than the managerial mantra of ‘what would Jesus do’.
That basis for my behaviour has pretty well gone. For example, I used to be comforted by the idea that evil was punished – There’s always a day called Katchum. If not by some judicial system, then by kismet, karma, whatever. The baddy would walk free from court and be run over by a bus sort of belief. Childlike and simple – yes. False – who knows; it kept me happy when I thought I saw it at work. That natural justice concept has gone. Time and time again we see the evil ones triumph and unpunished on this earth. Maybe they will be re-incarnated as a cockroach but I want justice now. People could universally be regarded as basically honest. Now – I count my change everywhere. My defence mechanism of reverse apartheid in keeping away from situations and people I know I will not like, is coming under more and more pressure.
Lots of the things we respected have been trodden into the mire of modernity. Attitudes to the aged, respect for other cultures and, here’s a really old word, ‘gentlemanly’ conduct are all bygones. We are being blamed now for ‘sins’ we committed when they were not sinful. Smokers and the obese are being denied medical treatment because their problems are considered self-inflicted. I am sure the day will come when some lesbian vicar living with her same-sex civil partner (both practising celibacy – right!) will send me to purgatory. Just because I committed the sin of allowing myself as a fifth-former to be sexually abused behind the bike-sheds by a sixth-form girl. It’s all my fault and it’s all her fault if she is still living.
So, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Thankfully, there is very little baggage and I can travel light as I walk through the curtains at the back of the stage. Note use of ‘walk’. Let there be no doubt that I do not wish to be kept alive by connection to some 13 amp socket. If things get to the stage when I need to walk to maintain my personal dignity on my own terms, I’ll make that clearly known. I’ve spoken elsewhere of my wish to be remembered on my own terms rather than in the memory of those who knew me. Knowing that a job is only finished properly when done by a committee of one, I need to set the parameters.
Firstly, no fuss or ceremony. Neither Christian, heretic or natural. Those who feel that the way should be smoothed by prayer are welcome to do so – in their usual fashion and venue and not gathered around a box full of what is, basically, carrion. Drinkers are welcome to have an extra one. Cremation – of course. After that? Well, I’d rather like to be the payload in a damned big firework. Yes – I was a soldier and fully enjoyed all the pomp and splendour but it’s rituals have no place in my life now. I’ve heard all the martial music I need.
So, that is ten, nine, eight. I wanted to get this dealt with before Christmas which always makes me very sombre. The alternative was something in an envelope tucked behind the mirror. Only to be found when the house clearance men come round. There is too much to utter in a final gargle. At the end of this – right now – I feel better for having written these few words. It is something I wanted to do and have done.
Will there be a seven, six, five? Dunno. There will certainly be no three, two, one from me.