Sunday, March 27, 2011

Men that were boys

Yesterday, March 22nd, I had a letter from an old friend, a friend I have known for well over fifty years and with whom I've been through a couple of interesting situations - situations, incidentally, better left unremarked. It all got me to thinking, as these things usually do, about the past.

I know that young people wonder why us old fellows harp on about the past so much, and I'll tell you. It's because the past is a safe place to be - we know what happened and there are no surprises, nasty or otherwise. The past is a safe, comfortable environment.

Anyway, Freddie (for this is the friend's name) was telling me in the letter of all the other old boys, who send their sincere respects, as well as telling me who has died. I remember all of these young men when they were young men, and the interesting part ( I suppose) is that they remember me too. After twenty-five years they still remember - I must have done something right along the way. I know young fellows who haven't got a friend in the world. Well, if you get to thirty and have no friends, you are doing it wrong.

Having said that, they do say that if a man has just one true friend then he is a rich man indeed.

A lot of fellows have died in one way or another, and this got me to thinking ahout my own funeral, not all that far away now. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not about to turn maudlin, not a bit of it. I've got it all organised - I'll have Frank Sinatra singing "My way" and I'll be in the background 1aughing my head off. By the time it's all over the whole congregation will be laughing like lunatics and, on the way out, someone will say, "What a character! He couldn't even let us plant him without turning it into a big joke!"

Well, it is a joke. Funerals have bugger-all to do with the dead - the dead couldn't give a fiddler's. Funerals are strictly for the living - and that's a contradiction if I ever heard one.

So, I wonder who will attend my own planting? I hope I am there to see it.

Howsomever, before that happens I've got a few more roads to travel. Besides, Boudica will veto my own requests for an insane departure from this mortal coil. She'll want a miserable one with every bugger crying and being po-faced.

Before all that happens I shall hope to see those old hoys again and have a look at how the years have treated them. I remember them all as fresh-faced young lions at the peak of their prowess and arrogance. The women too! I'll remember when they were all pretty and turned heads as they sashayed past. Now, we are all old - and that's the cycle of life.

It all brings to mind the words of the poet Hilaire Belloc:

I will hold my house in the high wood,
Within a walk of the sea,
And men that were boys when I was a boy
Shall sit and drink with me.
The Voice In The Wilderness

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