It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.  It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.’

Mahatma Gandhi

So, Saturday night.  The Greatest Showman.  The pre-judgement.  The dread.  The moral?  Never listen to Dylan!  It was such a good night.  A superb film of the kind I like best: one with a moral.  To be honest, the setting, itself, would have been sufficient to secure enjoyment.  The giant screen was in place on the lower lawn stretching in front of the Hill of Tarvit Mansion House and, allocated a numbered area, everyone brought their own chairs – tables, even – nibbles, alcohol, the lot, plus there was a little tent selling pizzas on site.  Dylan and Manny found the whole thing hysterical, the thought that they were about to, voluntarily, sit through an outdoor screening of some crass musical; however, even those two could not fail to appreciate the sensational backdrop.  What’s more, I had secured pole position!  It was as though this was our own private viewing.  Beer, Prosecco, wine, pizza … and action! 

That familiar thumping beat and, then, Hugh Jackman!  For goodness sake, what was not to like?  Led to believe – by Dylan, of course – that the entire film was devoted to song, it was no such thing and, in fact, the story was nothing short of a fairytale: good triumphing against the odds; the importance of family; moreover, the importance of kindness to all and of never judging a book by its cover.  A good, old-fashioned lesson in life.  No man is an island …  It was superb!  Litmus test?  Yes, hankies were required.  What a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening.  As we packed our seats into their bags and made our way back to the car, it was now dark but the contours of the magnificent trees were clearly visible and the familiar house, with its balustrades and terrace, still resplendent above.  I smiled as I remembered the little girl who never questioned that she would, one day, live in a house just like it …  ‘When she was just a girl, she expected the world …’ One of my favourite song lyrics, courtesy of Coldplay and Paradise.  Manny made up a poster for me, depicting that lyric, for Christmas one year.  I have it framed.  It shall have pride of place in the home!!

Buoyed by the mood of the evening, we returned to the cottage and nothing short of an impromptu party for four!  Copious amounts of alcohol, music, memories and laughter, each of us, repeatedly, chose a favourite song to add to the playlist and, of course, every one of them transported us back.  That’s the thing about music, it is so evocative.  Our lives flashed before us in pure escapism as, together, we shelved the worries of the world for one night.  It was the best!  Manny slept in his clothes, Dylan on the couch and, despite the after-effects, we, all, agreed it was worth it.  Unfortunately, though, reality may only be paused, to be faced, once more in the cold light of day – Sunday!  Does anybody like a Sunday?  Is anyone immune to that Sunday night feeling?  Homework.  School.  Songs of Praise!  Pop said it remained with him throughout his life …  Meanwhile, Dylan keeps sending me photos of us all; selfies of which I have no recollection, now memories stored.

But. perhaps the greatest escapism of all is to take refuge in the domesticity of the past, the home that history and literature become, avoiding the one moment of time in which we are not at home, yet have to live: the present.’ 

Tim Parks

Who wouldn’t want to escape this?  A world which has gone utterly mad; a country which sees fit to put social and political reasoning above that of the JCVI – an ‘independent expert advisory committee’ – agreeing on a vaccine rollout for 12-15-year-olds.  Moreover, a vaccine which can be administered without parental consent!  One has to ask whyWhy is this decision, ultimately, being handed to the child?  A child/teenager susceptible to peer pressure if not bullying whose health is paramount to his/her parents?  It makes no sense.  There has to be something more.  As for the argument that children, who are at miniscule risk from the virus, should be injected to prevent further disruption to their education – in truth, disruption caused, only, by flawed government policy – and to prevent unnecessary spread to the elderly and vulnerable – well, that just doesn’t hold!  The vaccination has been proven not to prevent transmission, plus are we not to assume that those most susceptible are already protected?  So, I question, once more, the real reason behind Chris Whitty’s decision?  In the absence of honesty, I am only grateful that I, myself, do not have a child between the ages of 12-15.  I feel for all those who do.

As September rolls on and the threat of winter becomes ever more real, the past few days have highlighted a mental fragility which has taken me by surprise.  Forced, finally, to face that my beloved 18-year-old Jeep had reached the end of the road, I have had to organise that it be scrapped – I can’t even bear to say or write that word!  So much more than a car, it was an extension of me; my right arm and a huge part of my life and so many memories.  Synonymous with Wilbur, our forever missed Clumber Spaniel, it is as though we must grieve for him all over again …  It has been truly awful and, what’s more, far from straightforward.  I have all but lost that sense of humour – without which I am lost – and ‘that little spark of madness’ has been snuffed out by the gloom.  Having survived six years plus of legal wranglings courtesy of the most acrimonious and costly divorce, I didn’t doubt my inner strength but these past eighteen months have proved debilitating for all, myself included.  It’s funny, one thinks one is fine until that bump in the road.  Only, then, does one appreciate that positivity is a gift, not a given.  March 2020 heralded the end of life as we knew it.  Eighteen months on, the continuing fear, anger and frustration have taken their toll.  Spontaneity is consigned to the past in a world of control and confinement.  Enough!  Refill that tank and break free …

Don’t you cry for the lost
Smile for the living
Get what you need and give what you’re given
Life’s for the living so live it
Or you’re better off dead.’

Passenger, Life’s For The Living.

Too bloody right!

This is Trish, signing off.