Life, Questions, Funerals and Blasphemy – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

The real question is – do we ever learn anything from the chaos of our lives?

I think not. Our lives seem so arbitrary. Leave a few seconds later, or earlier, on a journey and you might be killed or not killed. Ring a few seconds earlier and you have the job. Every decision is a gain and a loss and who is to say which would have been the better?

So what can I pass on to my kids? What advice can I ever give a friend? I don’t want them to die. I want them to be happy and fulfilled. Apart from the obvious – stay away from heroin, motorbikes and cigarettes – find a nice exciting, sensitive, compassionate, intelligent, girl or boy, have fun but don’t do anything daft – it all sounds so trite.

I can’t even tell you what shape a good life is.

I can’t explain how to be happy.

I want my children to be safe. But safety is boring. I want them to be adventurous and live. But adventure is dangerous. I wish them a billion experiences. I want them to taste the extremes but not too much. It’s about the right balance, the right degree of risk.

Maybe Bob was right when he was talking about heroin to me. He said it was like a big calm ocean. It was like a huge orgasm. You felt warm and safe. You left all your worries and concerns behind. Nothing mattered. You bobbed along and it was great. Of course, he didn’t mention the overdoses, red eyes and running nose or the short life and misery. But at the end of the day what really counts?

What do we want? Quiet desperation with manicured lawns in suburbia? A house, two children and the telly? Washing the flash new car on Sunday. Having enough money not to worry and enough possessions to keep up with the Jones’s?

Running wild with the girls, dope, fast cars and loud music? Up all night rapping. Some craziness. Good friends, laughs and hope you don’t fuck yourself up too quickly.

Creating something worthwhile?

Doing some good?

A middle way?

A bit of all of them?

I’ve tried most of it. Some of it I can’t abide. Some of it you can’t control. I would never want anything that controlled me. I avoid that as if it was plutonium.

I watched my Dad live his life. It appeared to be a boring life of quiet desperation, but I could see evidence of some vestiges of fun and enjoyment. I wanted my life to be full of so much more. I’ve done so much more in some ways, but has my life been better? Who can say?

I’m looking back. They say you should never do that, but how else can you judge which direction to head off in if you don’t have a clear picture of where you’ve been?

I’ve told Liz what to sort out at my funeral. Something raucous, like Little Richard’s Rip It Up and a poem, maybe Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, and Roy Harper’s Cricketer, and one of Rich’s poems. Then something that Liz or the kids wants to put in. Then, they could play Tim’s ‘Crazy Zen Beat Hipsters.

I want it to either be a humanist ceremony followed by burial in unconsecrated ground, returned to nature, or I’m leaving my body to medical science where it can be used to teach people one last time.

If I had the biggest shock of my life and died, and unbelievably came face to face with God, and he was that Abrahamic version, I’d tell him to fuck off for being such an evil bastard.

But that’s not something I’d be expecting to happen and if it did I doubt it would piss him off too much.

I’m not sure you can upset a nuclear energy vibration, can you?

I’d like to listen to my obituary to see what other people thought about my life. Maybe that would give a clue? But I know that it would be lopsided. I doubt too many people would say anything too nasty. Still, it would be nice to hear some of the good things, wouldn’t it?

At the end we usually get our life summed up, in two minutes, by someone that never knew you. That’s ultimately all it’s worth.

I’ve done a lot, explored many avenues, had many interests, enjoyed much good company, travelled the world and created a few things on the way. I’ve brought up a family and maintained a relationship over decades. I wonder if my dad would have been proud of me? I didn’t always make the most of things, I have to admit. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

I suppose the biggest test is if you had the chance to live it all again which bits would you change?

Wow! If you change a bit you miss out on all the friends and experiences that come later down that road. And what’s the unknown road like? – The road untrod? What unmade friends and weird experiences lie down that route? Could you see one of your precious kids unborn?

I’d most probably not have moved to Hull. But not give up Barny, Hester and Henry. Not anything to put that at risk!

Maybe it’s all a Science Fiction story and we are the products of a bored mind floating in infinite space. This is a dream. We will while away the new millennium mulling it over in the dark and breaking up the boredom of forever. We will smile and laugh at the things we’ve done and cry in all the right places and at the end of the day, it will have been better than nothing.

Maybe all time, and all possibilities, really exist in one moment – as the astrophysicists tell us?

I like to think so. Then there would be no road untrod.



Happiness is discovery and wonder with liberal dashes of awe.


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