It’s not the ending to 2008 I wanted, but at least Forrest Gump didn’t turn up on my doorstep and wave a box of chocolates in my face. Or anywhere else.
Maybe, like me, you’re planning on waxing reflective today, wondering how to transform yourself into a better person without recourse to plastic surgery or a total personality graft, reflecting on the good and bad times you’ve seen and looking forward to your next BOVI-Burga (The Burger You Can Trust) — or whatever.
It’s a good thing, isn’t it? To take stock, mix in a couple of herrings and whup yourself up a Stargazy Pie of speculation and resolution? I’d like to think so, but deep down (just above the elastic of my Whirlo Socks) I have a couple of reservations about the whole business of grand resolutions:
1) It’s a fucking waste of time.
2) It’s a fucking waste of time.
So, here’s what I’m currently thinking. As I began making my way through the mountain of papers, power tools, tropical fish and drawing stuff constituting all the tangible remains of my late Dad’s life, I came upon this photograph. Actually, I came upon loads of photographs, most of which I’d never seen before — of my grandad in daft looking trousers, my aunts and uncles in the black and white Skeggie beach gloom some time before the war (or probably during, if all the dark clouds looming o’erhead are, in fact, smoke), and my Dad’s grandad, who, it turns out, stood a full 6' 7" without his cap. Anyhow, what struck me about the photo below is the way my Dad is striding into a future he couldn’t possibly know. A future full of computers and religious extremists, cheap flights to despoiled Hungarian wastelands and exactly the same Queen. Think of anything you like after the late fifties when this photo was probably taken and those are all the things he couldn’t possibly have known about. And me, of course. Nearly fifty years’ worth of times, people and things — good and bad, taken and given.
I can’t think he’s out to change the world and he doesn’t have the look of someone too intent on changing himself, and it may be that the person taking the photo isn’t (as I suspect) my Mum, but the ringleader of a gang of Teddy Boy thugs that terrorised the caravan parks of Great Yarmouth till the price of hot dogs drove them away, thus rendering my whole life a sham, BUT, right now I’m seeing a quality in my Dad’s stride that speaks to me. Granted, it was probably a sunny day and I’d be very surprised if umpteen bags of delicious properly cooked fish ‘n’ chips weren’t lurking off camera within a couple of yards, yet there’s no mistaking what this photograph is actually about.
If I’m to do anything different in 2009, it has to be done this way — preferably with a similar steam of merriment rising in wisps from my smile as I swing my feet into empty air. So thanks for that one, Dad.
Oh — and whatever they’re saying now about 2009, remember: it hasn’t happened yet.