A quiet 10th Patteran Pages birthday. Just a few people round. Faute de mieux - very few are left. It's a bit like reaching a great age: just the odd fellow veteran and a brisk and business-like nurse! Well, up in a trembling grip goes the glass of Pouilly-Fumé...
As to that past decade - well, those aspects of it that have impinged directly or indirectly on my life have been recorded on these pages and the curious can locate them in my back files. In respect of the great verities of life and death, the years in between 2003 and 2013 have incorporated:
- an explosion of major conflicts, their impact upon their own immediate regions and the world beyond and their (ongoing) body count, military and civilian;
- the birth of three children and the restructuring of my life in late middle age around them;
- the death of my mother and my assumption in late middle age of the status of orphan;
- a tsunami, a nuclear disaster and a hurricane;
- my diagnosis of prostate cancer, its treatment and my current freedom from it; the crippling anxiety that came in its wake, its treatment and my current relief from its worst effects;
- a concomitant sense of my own mortality accompanied by a powerful consciousness of the need to align my priorities and live right by them.
Positives have persisted the way a good deed shines in a naughty world:
- My granddaughter Kitty was born to my daughter Zoe and her partner Russell.
- Ancient Lights was published and courtesy of Beth Adams and Phoenicia Publishing a long ambition was realised.
- We moved into a house that feels like entirely the right place for the five of us to be at this time.
- After many years, I resumed playing with Bill and Paul and it was as if we’d only put down the instruments the day before. Now with Doug on board as well, the music is as satisfying as I could wish it to be.
As to the future, I shall keep the blog open for poems and the odd ponder or rant, as of old. But, Typepad willing, I shall make some design changes and I‘ll cull the blogroll and links list. Then at least there’ll be enough of a sense of renewal and future purpose to keep the blog operational. Ten years is a long time and an unceremonious bailing out would seem something of a waste.
This was how I made my tentative debut into the nascent blogosphere. How very long ago it seems now...
DICK JONES - WHO HE?
Born in Horton Kirby, Kent, UK, during a V2 raid on the night of December 25th 1944. Thus 58 years old. Divorced, two grown-up offspring, living with partner (younger) & 5-month-old son. Teacher of Drama in a progressive school, facing retirement in 2.5 years time after 36 years in the profession.
Thus my identity - 58 years consigned to an 8-line paragraph. By the time I retire 2/3 of my life will have been given over to the business of being a teacher. So being a teacher has over the years come to define as much what I am as what I do. That which provides my salary has come to define my identity outside & beyond the workplace.
A sobering thought. Is an actor an actor when s/he isn't on stage? Is a politician a politician when s/he is standing in a supermarket checkout queue? What will being a retired teacher do to my sense of my own identity? What will I have become? A retired teacher is a ghost teacher, a yesterday teacher, a theoretical entity whose skills are dormant. They will be active only in memories - mine & those of any ex-students who may recall the lambent wisdoms or stupefying boredom of my lessons.
So where shall I locate my identity when the bell goes one morning & I stay at home? I believe that it will reside in three distinct places:
And I guess beneath them all in a fourth - the Child Within who never dies; who defies age & withering experience; who retains a capacity for wonder, surprise & hope; the child who, my mother tells me at age 88, survives the mortification of the flesh & waits for a new dawn every night..
What of the first three?
• Partnership because I'm lucky beyond deserving & reasonable chance to have met E.
• Fatherhood because now that I'm free of many of the vanities & stultifying certainties of youth I have an opportunity to get parenting more right than wrong this time.
• Poetry because the writing of it - that most solitary & internalised of processes - enables me to continue to have a rich & sustaining inner life & gets me closer sometimes to knowing - or thinking I know - who I really am.
THE BLOG - WHY & WHITHER?
How can it be about anything but vanity? Or, if that's too cynical, maybe it's about verifying, confirming, validating one's existence in a public place. Who is really going to give a damn about what makes my world real? Who out there is going to log on &, without even checking their email first, rush to my blog to catch the latest shimmering perception?
Well, I shall. I shall be my own best audience; I shall read each paragraph & stanza, enthralled & lost in the wonder of it all. And if that sets me alongside Robbie Williams in the conceit & self-regard stakes, all that separates us - & you too if you're a blogger - is wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.
This blog will log random thoughts & notions, sparked off as the world goes by. And I shall use it too as a little roadside stall for the poems as they get sparked off too as the world goes by.
19 February 2003
Well, once again I must be 'my own best audience'. What held true then must hold true now. Continuity is all. Another 10 years? A decade on I'm standing in a different place with a different view before me. One day at a time...