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Get your Kicks at Age 66 On:2013-05-27 17:31:00

The other day I had another of those damned birthday things. I'm not going to admit in public which one, but it set me thinking (even more than the 65 birthdays that preceded it) about the dark forward and abysm of time (as Shagspag probably wishes he'd said in King Lear rather than wasting the thought the wrong way round in The Tempest).
In especial it set set me thinking, by way of that dreadfully upbeat though slime-ly mawkish Browning poem Rabbi Ben Ezra : you surely know it 'Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be, / The last of life, for which...' de dum de dum de de.
Reality would, of course, suggest a slight modification:
Grow old along with me
The worst is yet to be.
When we can hardly see
Or remember when to pee:
Arthritis in the knee;
Modern rubbish on TV—
With Browning who’d agree
With his mawkish minstrelsy
OH! From it let us flee
And like Rabbie Burns to be
A-thinking of Annie Lauree
Let us lay us doon and dee.

Yup, visions of death; dissolution; the End Times (for me personally if not for all of you apocalyptically)...  Froggish après moi le something-or-other and c'est la fin-ishness: you know, all that good stuff, are dancing in my head along with the sugar plums.

In mediaeval times (which, whatever my children claim, I actually don't recollect first hand) there was a rather miserable type of poetry, officially called the 'Ubi Sunt qui Ante nos Fuerent' theme, though it's usually known to its friends as just 'Ubi Sunt ' on a sort of first name basis. So... so, it asks, "Where are they who were before us?", as the Wanderer so succinctly puts it in the Old English of the Exeter Book: 'Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?' Where the horse? Where the rider? Where the treasure giver?
Not that I would dare tempt fate for one moment by suggesting that I am immediately going to be one of those former inhabitants that people are going to be wondering about the ubi-sunt of; no, it's just, well you know, things like losing the desire to run five miles of a pre-dawn morning (not to mention losing the ABILITY to run five miles of a pre-dawn morning). The thinning... thinning... Oh!... I can't say it!... [pause] Thinning hair!! [gasp!]
Greying too! Oh the horror! The horror!
Things like that. Nothing desperate, like limbs falling off or a tendency for people to take one look at me and promptly try to bury me, just those subtle changes. But the worst, far worse and the least subtle of change, is that Georgia has recently developed the habit of calling me "Paw" (which I thought, based solely on its sound, was spelled P A W, rather than just P A. So, since I don't have a hope of getting it right: Georgia? [Gigi says "Pa"] Thank you) yes, "Paw", apparently in reference to a fictitious gentleman surnamed Kettle from something in the backward and abysm of American moviedom called (for the benefit of you younger listeners, [Gigi says "Ma and Pa Kettle"] thank you again).
But maybe it isn't all down hill and dissolution into Paw-ishness. It, for example, can't help but heighten my long-standing interest in those and that that 'biforen vs weren, Houndes ladden and hauekes beren' as an unremembered poet ubi-sunted in that thirteenth century that I don't have personal recollections of, which I suppose isn't too bad.
Or to really look on the bright side...
On the other hand maybe it is true that you get your kicks at age 66

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton

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