Second childishness

Saturday 27th May 2012

MERE oblivion, sans teeth, sans this-that-and-the-other – not quite yet, but closing in on, having just passed 8.35pm, according to that poem I wrote, fifteen years and five hours ago.

Earlier this week, I asked a good friend what ambitions, if any, remained for him. He soon chose to re-word the topic as ‘unfinished business’. His priorities were very similar to mine, especially:

“Spending more time playing with my grandson.”

It’s much easier, as you get older, to understand what Shakespeare knew when he spoke of ‘second childishness’; or how T S Eliot hits a firm nail with his:

…the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

In the ideal world I have carried in my head for ages, nobody teaches children how to ‘tell the time’: one of many human constructs we learn when young, which catapult us, far too quickly, towards the structured lives of adults.

Teachers, it is said, should help prepare young people for employment: a process that can take up to twenty years. If that is so, then bosses should start preparing people aged about forty-five for retirement.

Every place of work should, therefore, provide:

– a garden, where training days can be held, leading to a diploma in Secateurship

– careers advisers, matching employees’ aptitudes to their future prospects at the Women’s Institute, local bowls club, library, tea rooms etc

– work experience in town walks, the history of country homes, and testing the deck-chairs aboard cruise liners

– target-setting programmes to help develop skills in having a late breakfast, doing the crossword, sitting on park benches, and agreeing with strangers how terrible it is that young people no longer give up seats on the bus to pensioners.

I remember, when about six, waking up one hot Saturday morning and dressing so quickly I went downstairs in only a pair of shorts, without any underpants. Nobody noticed; nobody cared.

It’s liberating to do the same thing again… very many years later.








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One Response to Second childishness

  1. barabrith says:

    I am 48. I volunteer for The library, and testing the chairs on cruise liners. As for pants, my nephew informed very seriously, aged three, ” I know that pirates DO wear underpants”. so,if you swant to be a pirate in your old age…

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