Seems like everything’s changed and nothing’s happened ……..
My mum died aged 97 at home after a short illness. I suppose that’s good news? But losing that person who has known you for ever is definitely earth shattering in an underwhelming sort of way. Inevitable but heart piercing. You start to see yourself differently – no longer the sandwich generation. Now the older generation. Suddenly, the buck stops here. Future proofing is in danger of taking centre stage as panic sets in. The increased likelihood of falling, of dementia, of diminishing eyesight, hearing, dexterity and energy. A foreboding sense of stepping into her life where she left it, literally into her shoes, her sheets and her jumpers. Her pictures on my bedroom wall. And her penchant for toast and marmalade taking over my breakfast.
But here’s Jeremy thrust into changing the world in his late sixties in a totally unplanned life event. Turning politics upside down. Struggling with his mild mannered nature to rise above the mantra of business as usual. Trying not to be too nasty to the nasty party. Attempting to reconcile leavers and remainers with a solution that is still somewhere out there in the ether. And won’t be apparent until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane. I’m so bearing with you on that one.
My big birthday present to myself in 2017 was going to The World Transformed in Brighton in September. It’s hard to muster up the atmosphere in retrospect but at the time I described it as being parachuted into a utopian optimism. The election was celebrated as a winner despite being lost. The energy and enthusiasm of a younger generation in waiting was infectious. The concept of Acid Corbynism was the particular idea that grabbed me (https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/10/why-time-has-come-acid-corbynism)
Reconciliation of the old and the new, of history and the now, of the young and the the old. A very personal squaring of the circle for me as an old hippy who has been here before, who was once wedded to the mission of changing the world back in the 1970s. But somehow got diverted from the task by the sequence of events that turned out to be life.
The idealism of the counter culture and its legacy have been prominent this last year. I helped put on the exhibition at the Townhall in Hebden Bridge (http://www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/hippies/) and contributed to the talk at the local history society. Just weird to be history so soon.