I was talking to a friend of mine about Hattie Jacques’ appearance on a television show called ‘This is your life’the other day, us talking about it was the other day, not the show, I think that was in the nineteen seventies. The idea of the show was to surprise a celebrity or heroic figure of some description and drag then back to the studio and trawl them through appearances from all the pivotal people in their life. Unbeknown to the general public, she had split up from her husband, actor John LeMesurie and was living with a much younger man. The outcome of this was the LeMesurie had to appear on the show and pretend that everything was fine and dandy. I don’t think I could have done that, I would have been selfish and faked an illness or something and kept well away.
It’s an odd premise for a tv show, dragging all of someone’s past into public and I’m glad the wretched thing was eventually cancelled. I haven’t been feeling that well over the last few years and combinations of stress and extremes of temperature leave me feeling a bit grotty to say the least, as such I’m probably more aware of my own mortality than I would like to be. Forgetting to take my medication last night didn’t really help either. As I go through the days, I am aware with each one that passes that I won’t get that back. That’s it! Gone!
There are certain things I can’t abide doing and top of the list is your archetypal dinner party. That’s not to be confused with a meal with close friends, I’m talking about those vile occasions where you are badgered by politeness into sitting around a table with people that you barely know whilst everyone gets sozzled and talks a load of complete shit whilst the host acts like they are dead popular. Who came up with this excoriating torture? The strange thing is, I am quite good at seeming chatty and convivial at these sort of things, I can small talk for hours, tell stories, remember what people are saying, but what I am thinking inside is “I can never get this moment back”. Why do some people feel the need to hold court? Juggling their little collection of human beings around like playing pieces on a board game. What kind of ego does it need to think that is a good or indeed useful thing to do? There is a showing off element too, look at me plates! Aren’t I a brilliant cook! Look at my friends! I can feel my heart sinking even as I contemplate one, all the things I could be doing instead, making art, reading a book, making love, sleeping, just sitting quietly doing nothing… Listening to a collection of people getting drunk and talking more and more loudly over each other about absolutely nothing is one of the most grotesque things imaginable. Hell on earth!
That time, we can never get back. If doing that sort of thing fills your heart with joy then fine, you do that, but for me it’s a soulless waste of life energy. A life wasted.
I think that’s what I’m getting at. This. Is. Your. Life. And you, dear reader, can do exactly what you want with it. And while you are doing that, I shall get on with mine.
What confuses me though, what question I always want to ask people is. “This life of yours…. You do realise that you only get one go at it?” Granted, I am opening up a whole can of worms regarding reincarnation and such but, without being omnipotent, it would be prudent to assume that that is the case and knowing that key fact, that you don’t get another go, that is how you wish to spend it.
Every day I get up and think,”shit! I haven’t done that.” Or “That image/thought/ concept needs recording in some way.” Just too many things to do. That sunny Sunday morning needs to be experienced without nursing a hangover. That day needs spending without some soul sucking egomaniac sucking all the energy and joy out of it. Given the gift of living in a free country (to a given value of free, granted) in the privileged western world, why do so many people do such a pile of useless shit with their one and only life?
I guess the answer is that they don’t think it’s shit…. To that person, that is the life, That is their life…
What an utterly terrifying thought.