I’ve not written an “opinion” piece for a while. It’s not that there hasn’t been enough to write about. Far from it, The government have been making my blood boil on a daily basis, but it’s just that shit has really got in the way.
My wife and I are now the oldest members of the family. Its taken 11 years, but the last of our parents have now left us and it’s an odd feeling. We keep saying “Mum would have liked this…” or “When do you have to phone your parents…?” Obviously we still remember them, hear their favourite words, repeat their regular phrases and smile when we think of their reactions to situations, but it’s been a long slog as they all got older and needed more of our time.
“We’ll be next” we keep saying. Duh! That’s obvious innit? But how do we want to go? Holding on to the last breath, whilst still saving for a rainy day, wearing old clothes and starting every conversation with the word “Oh my back!”
I don’t think so. It’s time to grow old disgracefully, and I like to think I’ve been working up to that for a while. I still want to be the oldest bloke in the mosh pit (although there’s a lot of competition for this down in Brighton!) and give it up to the max at Swoove, my dance fitness exercise addiction! I still want to see more cities of the world, meet more interesting people, drink more interesting drinks and eat (and cook) more interesting food. So now is the time to do it.
My parents always seemed old to me, even when they were the age I am now. They never had friends round for dinner. My Dad never wore jeans. The only gig I went to with my Dad was one I took him to (Stéphane Grappelli). But now that I’m older I do realise one thing – they were young in their own heads. Just like I still feel like I’m 15 at my first concert. It’s just seeing the reflection in the mirror that reminds me, perhaps I’m not. Who is that old bloke anyway?
The world at the moment seems a very scary place. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and, in some Orwellian sleight of hand we’ve been reminded that Trump is the best president, Johnson is running the country instead of Cummings, the NHS is not being sold off to American corporations and there’s no such thing as global warming. Is this a good time to be alive? Was it a good idea to bring children into this world? Is it a good idea that Johnson himself is producing another heir?
Well, my parents much have wondered the same thing. Shortly after my birth the US and Russia went head to head over the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. During my years at school we were told about “Protect and Survive” and the 4 minute warning. Was that a good time to bring children into the world? Didn’t my parents suffer enough with WWII? Were they as scared as we are now?
If we take this point of view we are lost. We give in to doubt and the people that want to ruin the world get their way. We must resist, even though my default position is pessimistic. So I’ve determined that in 2020 I’m going to be more optimistic and engage in optimistic endeavours.
Stage one was joining (or becoming a “fellow” as they say, of) the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) , thanks in part, due to the optimism of my old mate, Peter Clitheroe, who joined to make the world a better place for his grandchildren.
It’s the “encouragement” bit that inspires me the most. Encouraging people to be the best of themselves, to make their mark on society, and not just in the fine arts, but in manufacture and business. This is what I really loved about my working career – encouraging people, teams and organisations to make real change.
And I’ve started with a bang, helping create a new network for grassroots musicians, which is in beta-test at the moment and I will tell you about in due course. It’s been good for me because I found out long ago that I’m crap at creating a “vision” but I’m pretty darn good at helping create and fulfil other people’s visions. Just tell me what you need and I can help. This plays to my strengths and does create a sense of optimism that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Hopefully more projects like this will emerge!
So, as 2020 is now officially 17% over, I’m looking forward to the other 83% in a positive state of mind. Champion!