Tuesday 30 September 2008


Well I am still reeling (and coughing and somewhat hungover) after the events of yesterday. I was down in Devon for the highly improbable reunion of four old friends, two of whom I had not seen for 35 years (nor had any contact with til a few months ago). The extraordinary thing was that, whereas time and life had wrought huge changes on three of us, making us in many ways barely recognisable as the people we once were, one of us - the one we were all visiting - had remained, beneath the ravages of time and booze and other ravagers, exactly the same person he always was, living exactly the same life in exactly the same surroundings (though he has carried on this life against Indian, French, Spanish, Afghan, Dutch etc backgrounds for years at a time). With few ties and even fewer possessions, he looks out on life with amused detachment, takes it as it comes, forms a community from whatever people are around him, and, eventually, moves on. He is probably the future (and of course he doesn't work).
In the midst of this epochal reunion, I had news of a birth (a girl, to a friend now living in France) and a death (my last surviving aunt, of whom I have very fond memories) - and, out there in the big world, civilisation ended. Typical - it would happen when I was down in Devon, wouldn't it...


  1. Well Nige, here we were thinking that you had legged it hot foot down to Devon, bulging suitcase in hand, to squirrel away the Zloty in the family vault.
    Strange experience those reunions, shocks and surprises, I envy your friend, one of the fast dwindling few.
    PS, remember, today is day one of the new, be nice to Bill epoch.

  2. Your friend hasn't changed because he's been drinking all those years, enabling (a key word) him to retain all his adolescent charms (and their opposites). Nice to have money. Otherwise his trajectory through life would doubtless have been very different!

    People are definitely freaking out here in America as Wall Street crashes. Well, what little retirement $ we had has doubtless now disappeared as it was all invested in aggressive but risky stocks. I guess I can be a Wal-Mart greeter in my dotage and sample the joys of cat food. Strangely, I'm not worried about it -- I see a book possibility therein!

  3. Your friend sounds fascinating. I couldn't live like that. The idea of rootlessness, very attractive when I was younger, now appals me. I wonder why he decided that kind of life was for him, or did it just sort of happen?

  4. Time to hoard Susan....
    Tinned salmon, corned beef, peas. Jam, coffee, tea, sugar, flour, matches, paraffin, candles, socks, light bulbs I would suggest about 5 years worth, oh, and gold of course. We Brits know a thing or two about hoarding

  5. Sounds one heck of a day. I hope it was enjoyable and thoroughly worthwhile, anyway, and sorry about your aunt. I guess everyone is different, or we change. I used to feel that all good stories revolved around a house/home - certainly that's true in books - but now I'm not so sure that being a nomad isn't what quite a lot of people are cut out to be. For example, if you put all - all - your possessions in Big Yellow storage for, say, five years, after that time how many if any would you really miss?

    Life is so fascinating. All those years and different paths, and yet you and your friends still made a perfect circle back again for a day. Sure beats what we're all suffering from at home at the moment - acute Pestonitis.

  6. God yes Peston - I swear the man doesn't sleep - they just switch him to Standby and prop him up in a corner of the studio.
    Yesterday was certainly enjoyable - haven't laughed so much in a long time - and almost eerie in its time travel aspect.
    I agree about the rootlessness Sophie - strongly rooted but not too encumbered with property is my ideal - but my friend has always been rootless, never seemed strongly attached to any place or person, always moving on. He lost his father when he was quite young, and was much younger than his siblings - guess that might have had some effect. He has an imaginary family, complete with photos, for use in India, where they're deeply suspicious of a lack of family ties.