What’s the rudest word in the World? Could it be ‘don’t!’
And I sometimes think of Jeff who jumped into that train, and Pete on the motorbike, Jane who died of the brain tumour at the age of eighteen, and Loveridge, whose first name I’ve forgotten, who fell off the stack at the plastics factory and fractured his skull. I think of Shaun who was so full of life and would have done so much. I think of Mocy, who I only knew briefly. I think of my good friends Danny and Tony who I shared so much with. I think of how many others of my old friends have gone without me even knowing. I think of Jason who was with my sister for such a short time and was so brave and gentle, so bright and cheerful. All the ones I knew and are now gone. I talk of them to my students. I weave them into my lessons. I get them to illustrate my tales of life. They live in my stories and they live in my mind.
I think of my Dad.
I think about the universe expanding, the Big Bang, religion and politics, beauty and getting old.
I think about the pleasures and the pains.
I think about the travels and the meetings, the books and music, the doings and the things I missed doing.
The drugs and the drunks, the parties and the sex.
I think about Liz and our life together, our love, and the home and life we’ve built with all its myriad compromises.
I think about my mum and all the things she did for me. All that love that was lavished on me.
I think about my kids and I wonder about the lives and experiences they will have.
I dream about all the grandchildren. I hope I will be alive to see them grow. I hope they will know me.
I think about how life is so long, packed full of so much, and yet it is so very short.
These days I smile wistfully a lot and have great hopes for the world, the future and humanity.
I think about my stupid writing and wonder what other uses I could have put to all this time. What else could I have done? What else could any of us do?
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get civilised and leave these dark ages behind, maybe one day we’ll understand a little bit more and be better people for it.