No! Is this the start of it, 2022 snatching the greats – my greats – one by one? Who can forget January 2016 with, first, the loss of David Bowie, then Glenn Frey, before Terry Wogan?! Ronnie Corbett shuffled off his mortal coil soon after but at least he didn’t breathe his last breath alone in a lift as did Prince on 21st April of that year. Not funny! In St Wolfgang that Christmas, there was no English-speaking channel to be had on the TV but the language barrier was irrelevant as the news came through, on the 24th, that Rick Parfitt of Status Quo had gone. No more Rockin’ All Over the World or fast living for him but who knew that it would be the Last Christmas for George? Christmas Day, for goodness sake, although somehow fitting … 2016. They just kept on coming, as though the building blocks of my life were being dismantled one by one. Now, six years later, Meat loaf!
Wow! Driving home this morning, Zoe ended her show with Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad – well, that did it. The heart in that song! His best, I think, along with – for me – Heaven Can Wait. If you don’t know it, find it. All the more poignant, now … Bat Out of Hell, released in October 1977, remains in the top ten best-selling albums of all time, deservedly so. I remember my sister bought me the cassette, the following year, and I used to sit at my desk in my room in Fraser House, immersed in Meat, as I grappled with Bert and Russell (don’t ask!). The point is, Meat Loaf was a huge part of my formative years and, quite honestly, I don’t need any more reminders of the fragility of life. I’m done! Yes, the past two years have, successfully, driven us into a state of perpetual fear with relentless daily figures of death; and, yes, these figures were manipulated to do just that but regardless, it worked. Once upon a time, we used to live life. Not anymore. Now, life has shrunk as we play safe, afraid to increase the odds of tomorrow being our last. The thing is, it feels totally unnatural. We had come so far from the days of my childhood when sixty plus spelt ‘granny’ complete with short grey hair in a tight perm and glasses. Think Mrs Doubtfire. It was cloning on a mass scale! There was no hope. However, the Eighties brought an older Jane Fonda and she was having no tight perm for nobody, never mind going grey! The dawn of a new era, suddenly age paled into insignificance, eclipsed by the individual. Health and fitness took hold of the intelligent mind and the prospect of living well into one’s eighties, dodging the care home and the zimmer, became a real possibility – not forgetting a new form of cloning, plastic surgery! The prospect of eternal youth disguised as an android. Still, it meant reaching one’s sixties and seventies no longer signalled the death knell. Fast forward, though, and COVID put paid to that. Sixty? Welcome to Russian Roulette! Just make sure your affairs are in order …
Meat Loaf’s family, pointedly, declined to reveal his cause of death at 74 so, guess what, he died of COVID! Of course, he did. Doesn’t everyone? If only he’d had the vaccine … No, actually, that makes me so angry. The audacity to ‘claim’ COVID, regardless of the family’s wishes let alone their grief. The lowest of the low – and yet, sadly, I have come to expect little more.
The loss of another ‘piece’ of my childhood did lead me to re-think my perfect, imaginary dinner party – remember that? – suddenly, acknowledging the demise of certain coveted guests. There is an empty seat at the table where, in my mind, the wonderful Geoffrey Palmer was to sit. Now, at that dinner party in the sky, the opportunity is lost. He will be sadly missed. One ‘guest’, however, whose invitation I have chosen to withdraw is that of Piers Morgan! I was – am – a fan of the fearless delivery of his opinions, succumbing to nobody, and, on much, we were very much in sync: Ms Markle, Woke etc. Add to that, how lovely he was when we met him at The Dunhill, last October, delivering a hilarious video for Manny, in his absence … but his utter bias with regard to the ‘experimental’ vaccine and the, subsequent, irrational vitriol directed at those who do not share his bias is unacceptable. For someone of intelligence, the manifest of such arrogance only serves to distract. Now, with whom to replace? Such a decision requires some thought. My guest list is somewhat fragile in light of their passing years, I know, but, in an ever-sinking world, the lowest common denominator of standards would seem, dismally, to be the target and, thus, the catchment limited. My ‘guests’ reflect another era when intelligence, talent – and humility – were valued. I know Judi Dench is among them – and Billy Connolly – but the very mention of such names and characters sets a precedence, today, well-nigh impossible to match. Let me re-visit my ‘list’, compiled in the lockdown of 2020, I believe, and get back to you …
Sunday evening now, as I write. A grey day in Edinburgh, yesterday, and I came face-to-face with my past. It’s sad. ‘No man is an island’, ain’t that the truth, but that connection means that, sometimes, the innocent are tarnished – or suffer for – the actions of others. As we sat with my once sister-in-law and her ‘new’ husband I had never met, sharing a glass of wine after ten years thanks to fate’s intervention, none of us mentioned the elephant in the room. Time has a way of healing as hindsight shines a clarity on the wounded and those who, so nonchalantly, inflicted said wounds. Thus, it was that, albeit unspoken, in all of our minds, ‘the elephant’ was deserving of … pity. Yes, pity. For, ten years on, the importance of shared history is ever more poignant. Ten years on, I am grateful that I, myself, do not carry the guilt of misjudging that importance.
‘There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all.
The Beatles, In My Life.
This is Trish, signing off.