The birthday party is over, the offspring has returned to the frozen wastes of the UK, the pounds have been gained and the dollars depleted and it’s back to the grindstone again. Already one week in, it feels like high time to relieve the mundane with a bit of creativity that has been sadly missed – by me at least!
So, what topic to choose for the ‘Return of the Blog’?
The presence of the offspring (who is, by the way, turning into something of an academic and going all out to surpass his mama in the acquisition of letters after his name) provided many opportunities for intellectual discussions of the kind I remember having at about 3 in the morning in the kitchen of various forms of student accommodation some 35 years ago. Maybe advancing age is to blame but this time I confess that I was struggling to keep up. It was a sobering feeling.
A program on ABC tonight reminded me of those heady student days when we were convinced we had all the answers and knew and understood so much more than our poor ignorant parents, being members of a generation that was the first in many of our working class families to have gone to University. Boy oh boy, were we pretentious? I would have hated myself had I met me…
My best schoolfriend Chris (later to rechristen herself ‘Chryse’ and go on to get a double first in Classics, now lives in France ‘for the ski-ing’) and I spent many hours indulging our teenaged selves in deep philosophical discussion about the Vietnam War and left wing politics in general. I still have a tearful letter she wrote to me on the occasion of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, which we jointly believed was the end of rational politics in the USA (we weren’t so wrong about that, were we?). We read the War Poets and D. H. Lawrence until our eyes bled, listened to King Crimson and Pink Floyd and sneered at fellow pupils who rushed home from school to watch The Monkees Show. Our other preoccupation was the fantasy literature of the day, which included anything written by J. R. R. Tolkien and, more darkly, H. P. Lovecraft – the subject of the program that prompted these reminiscences and this post. On mature reflection, we really were the worst kind of intellectual snobs.
I suppose it’s only fair that all my old rare-breed chickens are now coming home to roost and demanding more intellectually than I seem capable of giving these days. The offspring has inherited similar high-minded tastes, though poetry has a newer incarnation in the form of Saul Williams and other modern beat poets rather than W. H. Auden and Siegfried Sassoon. Our recent trip to Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art found me looking at some of the exhibits and wondering what on earth I was meant to make of them, while the offspring waxed lyrical. I could appreciate them as interesting specimens of someone else’s imagination, but trying to acquire more than a superficial meaning from them was altogether too much effort and the café seemed very inviting. This was a neat role reversal from those days when I used to drag him round art galleries and museums, trying to inspire a spark of interest in Pre-Raphaelite realism or the role of the Black Country in the Industrial Revolution. The irony wasn’t lost on me. I didn’t even get to take home a plastic dinosaur as my reward for good behaviour.
So, according to William Shakespeare, I seem to be somewhere between Pantaloon and Second Childhood..thanks for that insight…
Not many of the usual musical references in this post except for the title which is a song by Steve Winwood – one of so many talented musicians bred in my home part of the UK and whose career I have followed from those early Spencer Davis Group days. His Wikipedia entry reads like the Who’s Who of early rock and also reminds me of my University days in good old Brum – The Elbow Room in Aston where Traffic got their break was still a big live music venue when I was a student in the 70s and was only recently closed down after gunfire incident. How sad.