Tuesday, 24 January 2012



My wife Linda, and her sister Peggy plus a very good friend, Cary Douglas, all have conspired to keep my in the land of the living. Failing health should have seen my demise some ten years ago, but thanks to the efforts of these lovely ladies I have been given this extra time. When they shrewdly decided to keep me active, at least from a mental point of view, by encouraging me to write my memoirs, I realised that the memories that would have died with me could be recorded. It appeared that fate intended this to happen; that I should have a day on which to remember; hence the title I have given them.

To persuade me that I had the ability to complete such a project, I was first of all flattered regarding my aptitude for writing emails. Next the mysteries of computer word processing were explained to me. Finally digital imaging was suggested as an additional skill that might be useful. Like pushing a toboggan down an icy slope, once you get it moving, it will usually gather speed and keep going without any further encouragement. So it was in this instance; these pages confirm that I have recognized this journey as one I am destined to make.

Anyone reading this account would be excused for asking: “Why has he written it?” so before I began to write I tried to explain it to myself, and to answer this perfectly understandable question for anyone who might ask it.

It appears a simple question, but as I reflect on it I find that providing an answer is no easy task. On searching my mind I find superficial reasons that are easy to understand. For example, it is not difficult to accept the thought that when I die the memories I have will cease to exist, and the story I can tell will be gone for ever. Another reason is simply the fact that I have the time and the opportunity, so why not take advantage of it? But considering the question in more depth I find that logic demands more substantial answers. After all, from most perspectives I have little reason to write this account, it is not gripping and exciting, it has no historical or educational value, and it is not the stuff from which best sellers are made, so why write it at all?

To try and understand my motives, it is necessary to go back to the most fundamental facts of life. Beneath the day to day events that occupy our thoughts lie the questions that we cannot answer, but which, to some of us, appear to be the most important questions we can conceive.

Q‘Why are we here?’

Q‘Did God create us, and if so, for what purpose?’

Q. Did we create God; is such an entity a fiction intended to comfort us in our ignorance and fear of the unknown?’

There are no simple answers to such questions, but I suspect that my search for answers is part of the reason for these memoirs

There are those who believe they know why we were created, and what we were intended to do. But for most of us it is a mystery, and I for one have spent a lifetime wondering about such questions; some prefer not to know the answer, which should not surprise us. It is said: ‘When ignorance is bliss, it’s folly to be wise.’ We are born with a need for comfort and protection, and this need is part of our psyche. This state of affairs makes us susceptible to the conditioning that is part of our every day life, to the effects of our environment to which we are all so vulnerable. We become the product of such influences and of course our genes. We believe what we are taught, whether it be in relation to religion, politics, or the rules by which we live. Why are the good qualities that we strive for so important to us? Are we good when we are born and learn to be bad?Or is the opposite applicable? Is the herd instinct a natural phenomenon, or are we conditioned to accept the authority of those around us? How did I ever become indoctrinated with the belief that the only thing in life of any value was being born an Englishman? Are such thoughts inherited, or is it the relentless and persistent inculcation of such ideas that make us what we are? It appears that in part I am writing in an effort to understand all these things.

One doesn’t have to be a Christian to aspire to the finer and more decent qualities that makes the character we would like to have.Nor is it the exclusive province of the public school boy to possess good qualities. A psychologist one said: “Give me the child to the age of 7 and I will give you the man.”The conditioning that is part of us is so difficult to discard, even when we see it for what it is. Much of it we accept because we are persuaded that they are fine sentiments. And many of the rules by which we live are fine and worthwhile; consider the ’Ten Commandments’? Should we discard them because we realise they may not have come from a higher being? Should I reject the fervour I feel when hearing the anthem ’Jerusalem’? Because I now realise it is just part of the Nationalistic fervour that is designed to tie us to those who would have us believe that it is a privilege to be an Englishman? Those who find the status quo highly desirable are determined to keep it as it is. Should I no longer feel pride, and a loyalty to an ideal, when I see the words of a poem written by Sir Henry Newbolt, simply because it stems from an age that is no longer applicable? Consider the words of this poem which are imprinted indelibly in my memory, and consider your reaction to them. Are they still noble sentiments? Or should they be consigned to the past where they once held pride of place.


There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night -

Ten to make and the match to win -

A bumping pitch and a blinding light,

An hour to play and the last man in

And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,

Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,

But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote -

“Play up! Play up! And play the game!”

The sand of the desert is sodden red, -

Red with the wreck of a square that broke; -

The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,

And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed its banks,

And England’s far, and Honour a name,

But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:

“Play up! Play up! And play the game!”

This is the word that year by year,

While in her place the School is set,

Every one of her sons must hear,

And none that hears it dare forget.

This they all with a joyful mind

Bear through life like a torch in flame,

And falling fling to the host behind -

“Play up! Play up! And play the game!”

Putting all such thoughts aside, and thinking about it objectively, I can find no reason why any of the above philosophy should mean anything to me at all. Maybe a review of my past can reveal something more, and how helpful it would be if other more agile minds could study the matter, and find the answers for which I search.

1 comment:

Julie Walls said...

Looking forward to the next installment Glynn.