Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Slipping on Gravestones - Revisited

Now I'm in a bar in Copenhagen
And I'm trying hard to forget your name
And I'm staring at the label on a bottle of cerveza
And every fucking city feels the same - Paul Kelly, "Every Fucking City

See sign details below
I've been cleaning up my hard drives. Yet another onerous and necessary task in these days of technological advance when life is promoted as being easier rather than more difficult.

Checking  blogger and discovering a heap of  drafts - stories I'd started but never published.

One especially caught my eye. It's old. September 2010.

Was it really nearly seven years ago when I was in the UK visiting with one of my oldest friends, D?

D and I  grew up a few blocks from each other in Elsternwick, a Melbourne suburb,  and both left Australia in the years when everyone who longed for tolerance and culture - and had the means -  did. When Australia was black and white (well more white than black ...), when Lady Chatterley's lover was banned, and the White Australia policy was in full force.

Now we are continents apart and our lives have taken very different courses. But the bonds of early friendships never die, and in reading my post, "Slipping on Gravestones" I wondered why I had never published it. I so so now. Fond memories indeed.

Slipping on Gravestones,
Notice at Gawsworth, England
Just a few short days ago I was in a small church near Macclesfield, England.

And now I'm 30,000 feet above sea level, on Delta flight 155 traveling back to New York.

There is supposed to be internet access on board, but it isn't working yet. We are too far from the U.S. I hope to post this before we land.

We land in New York - my current home. And despite the Paul Kelly song, every city is not the same.

Despite globalization, despite the proliferation of Starbucks, the Gaps and DNKYs, there are still places that have an individual identity indelibly stamped upon them; their own identity. Manhattan and Buxton for example.

Buxton, the Peak district, United Kingdom. I've just come from there. Apart from the friendships that are both timeless and placeless  - (D, L and J thank you) - there are the local endearing peculiarities.

"One glass of white wine please?" "Large or small?" Excuse me???

Civilization, Chatsworth, England
Tea and scones with jam-not-jelly and clotted cream, recently made into a habit for me and D for "afternoon  tea". Stately homes now staffed by volunteers and visited by "commoners". School kids in traditional school uniforms that they've slung on in a hurry, St Trinians'-like, but with a certain panache -  or is it just that they don't  need to care?

Eccentric  elderly couples taking Sunday walks  with local  maps and hiking shoes - the women without make-up and the men without guile - through the adjoining British countryside, somehow reminding  one that WWII isn't so far away.

The tabloids with their screaming headlines and page 3 girls.

The freeways interrupted by traffic lights and roundabouts.

Buxton, Derbyshire. Just last night I was sitting in a  Buxton pub. At 10:00 pm the local 'teams' lined up for the Sunday night quiz.  Teams with names like "The Few", "Cupcakes" and "The Manchester Balls".  The publican reads out  general knowledge questions - well English general knowledge questions. Our team, the Cupcakes came third. I feel guilty as they'd' accepted my  answer to "Which company introduced travelers' checks?" I said Thomas Cook when it was  in fact American Express.

Not that it mattered. We all had fun and  numerous glasses of "large white wine".

I'll miss D, L and J and Buxton. Nothing can replace old friends. And of course, nothing needs to.

And so it is New York, New York.  My city which I love. So good they named it twice.

But why  oh why are there no tea rooms here? Tea rooms with scones, jam-not-jelly and clotted cream.

England, I miss you so!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Darkness and Light

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying - Dylan "It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)"

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration - Joni Mitchell "Woodstock"

Pride Parade NYC June 2017
The burst of color,  people expressing themselves boldly with pride.  Even the smaller contingents like the "Gay and Sober" and the "Queer Middle Easterners and North African Fabulousness" celebrating  "Happy Eid Pride" were out there  with the rest of them - being gay in the  happy sense of the word.

I envied them. To be so proud, the show one's values to the world. To dance along the streets of Manhattan. It was enough to restore one's faith in humanity.

Which is just what I needed. Something uplifting. Something to take myself  out of the dread of GETTING OLD. 

After all, if those people in the Pride parade who can face the post-Trump world with joy and defiance, why can't I. But somehow I can't.

There isn't a Pride Boomer thing. Probably because we are fast leaving this world.

Over the past 6 months I have been rather down. Getting old is not much fun. Worse,  people who think they are well-meaning, can be pretty obtuse.

What gets up my nose is the "compliments" that I am starting to get. A few examples will suffice.

Elderly gentleman onlooker at the Pride March when I sat down on a bench: "Oh, you are nearly as old as me!"

Person unnamed: "Gee you are  pretty good for your age, being able to take subways.."

Person unnamed: "You must be in good shape for that dog bite to have healed so quickly."

CityMD doctor on examining me for a back injury: "Kick your legs up ... oh my. I can't even do that, you are flexible."

And on it goes ....

I remember the fun we had back in the seventies. When we, thinking ourselves the avant-guarde, protested everything that had no intrinsic merit.

Why should we women stay at home and have babies? And if we did (have babies) why did we have to be confined to hospital for ten days? Why should men go to war and we women couldn't? Why should there even BE a war, and if there was, why couldn't we fight in it?  Every woman should breast-feed. And later, why should we have to breast feed.? Why is there public housing everywhere, except where there are parks, and then why don't they put parks (or public housing) in the outer suburbs? Why should people have to live in the outer suburbs?

Gay Guy in Silver With iPad
As much as I was one of those people, there were times when I felt conflicted. Still I went with the (in) crowd  -  I was young,  and it was all about being young and all-knowing.

But now I am not young. And the millennials do not know what we fought for, or care. And why should they?  Which is all well and understandable. I didn't "get" what my dad went through in the "Great Depression". Though to be fair, I did know what it was.

Still it was great to see the Pride march -  it was the most diverse group of people I have ever seen all together. I loved the contingents - the Green Pot Party, the nurses, the teachers, the sober gays, the ever so fabulous trans people - and OMG how they wore those heals. Better you than me darhling!

Maybe I am a pessimist ... but a little bit of me died then, when  exhausted from standing in the heat for four hours, I sat down on a bench and the old guy said, "Gee, you are nearly as old as me."

Actually, to be grammatically correct, he should have said, "Gee, you are nearly as old as I."

But I was too out out of breath to respond. 

Boomer Pride!!!