Friday 19 September 2014

Indian Summer

Unless you have been very unlucky, you will have been enjoying the most delightful and cherishing Indian Summer: late-ish September and warm sunshine and lovely pale blue skies with little brushes of white. The early mornings and the evenings are cool to cold so it's a cardigan on and presently taken off. Nighties, cotton but heavy and with sleeves and a dilemma about whether to re-instate the duvet or not yet It comes to me that this is a very edifying metaphor for old age. Old age, as I experience it, is warm and pleasant in the middle, with serious disadvantages at either end. Discomfort and disability nibble early and late. If I sit for long - not even too long - I have to get up very carefully and stand still a second or two to gain equilibrium before stepping forward. At night, I can no longer sleep in my preferred and habitual position on my right side because that now hurts my back. So I sleep on my back, which fancy tells me, is why I have psychedelic dreams. But the days, as I said, are warm and welcoming and full of lovely sights. The trees are turning slowly in to their autumn colours and there are Worcester Pearmain apples, if only I could find the shops which sell them. The metaphor, as you will have noticed, conveys the sense of small pleasures, well-known but no longer easy to access, subject to the threat of early frost in spite of the sun. (Picture a new paragraph, if you please). When the trees begin to lose their leaves, I shall have to think of contemporary friends who have also dropped off the branch. A few weeks ago, with the Father of my Children, I had dinner with college friends who now live in the States, whom I hadn't seen for sixty years. Actually, that's not quite true. I had seen the lady but not her husband. The Father had not seen either. Three minutes after we met the other three were deep in political discussion and I was reminded of the passion of those cocoa evenings when we were all about twenty or so. I kept rather quiet, being parsimonious in the political interest field. Then I was asked a direct question about my response to the contested actions of a certain politician. Trapped, I said the first thing which came in to my head:"He must have known something I didn't". Dear Reader, I got away with it. In the Spring of my days I was no more politicised than I am now in the Indian Summer so I was left both relieved and guilty because my response could have arisen from deep and prolonged consideration rather than from fright about how I was going to mask my disgraceful ignorance. (Picture another paragraph if you don't mind). Just as some activities don't work when it is no longer summer, so it is with some activities now that one is in the winter of one's life. "I could have danced all night" was then. not now. The other day I went to hear the Guru's band play in the ballroom of the Festival Hall. People were dancing to the music and I suddenly realised I had been dancing on those very same boards sixty one years before. Good Lord, that was before anyone else in the crowd was even born. The thing is, at this end of my life, I couldn't join in the dancing, but I could, and did, enjoy and swell with pride at what the Guru has achieved and was giving to us all. So, there is no anticipation of a winter of discontent in this glorious Indian Summer and, anyway, it is exactly two years since I survived to leave hospital so, Happy Anniversary. Bore da PS It occurs to me, rereading the above, that my delight in the Indian Summer metaphor left me vague in articulating it. Quite simply, I meant that the new - or newish - pleasures and re-experiences of exceedingly old age are mirrored by the summer warmth of the autumn sun. Prynhawn da

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did pick up the significance of your metaphor but thank you for the Ps and for your great blog