And the years remind me that I am of another time…

Willie again. My brother would have loved this, I suspect. Shocking really that I am new to this — I heard this song for the very first time just yesterday.

Indeed, with my laptop’s camera I captured myself in the very act of writing this post.

I had been reflecting lately on Facebook:

You may have observed that now and again here on FB in recent weeks I have shown my hand, you could say, rather more than I used to do. Observant ones will know what I mean, and I know some may not entirely like it. But expect this to continue, perhaps especially on the blog for which my posts here are sometimes drafts.

I am approaching 78 very soon. When my brother had passed his 78th (October 2013) a few months on, around Christmas, he commented in his dry way that he had outlived Dad. Yes, in 1989 Dad passed away — Boxing Day pretty much — just one month past his 78th. My brother made another 4 years. My mother went 7 years beyond hers — at least one year too long in my opinion as that year was pretty miserable.Just saying, folks. Not being morbid.But one effect is I don’t want to waste my time on bullshit. Know what I mean?

This song — brilliantly and subtly done by John Partridge — does apply, even if I have never been a drag queen….

Old comrade from teaching days back to the 1970s, Rowan Cahill, to my great pleasure commented, though we disagree on probably more than a few things, “Understood Neil…no problem with this.”

Typical of the kind of FB post I had alluded to is this one reflective of our current lockdown, and of much I had read on social media. I was commenting on this item:

The body of a man who died after testing positive for coronavirus lay in front of his house in North Jakarta for more than 12 hours before an ambulance responded.

A video of the 64-year-old’s dead body lying alone went viral on social media, raising alarm bells about the dire state of Indonesia’s healthcare system, which has been stretched to its limits by the pandemic.

Indonesian authorities reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases on Saturday with 21,095 new infections and 358 new deaths.

More than 56,000 Indonesians have died from the disease….

My comment:

Yeah, lockdown does suck. In my case it removes most of my social interaction, which is a loss indeed. On the other hand I can bother people here on Facebook! But before we all start bitching, blaming and complaining, have another look at this story and be reminded what it is really all about….

And the Peruvian guy I spoke to a week or so ago at the club whose family in Peru had not been outside their house (essential shopping excepted) for over a year….

And I look at my blog post about our lockdown and there is Tikno in Indonesia giving me health advice!

I also rather pointedly posted this from Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the comment: “I hope this is a meme we all can share!”

I have more than once railed against what we might call the partisan bitching memes which even really intelligent people on social media fall back on too often. They are in many cases really crude sloganeering propaganda — true even if you agree with them. But not this one!

And even more pointedly perhaps I shared what really is one of my absolute favourite Billy Joel songs, saying “I have long loved this song — and can’t help thinking of it sometimes as I read social media… And that seems a good cue to tell you I am off to enjoy Jack Irish on ABC-TV. After which I will check State of Origin…” Which I did!

I believe I’ve passed the age
Of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.

So here I am, like Gerontion:

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities.  Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving.  Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or is still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion.  Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear.  Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us.  Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism.  Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

Yes, possible anti-Semitism there, T S Eliot — but it is of its time, and the offensive phrase is in the company of magical evocations of a Europe between the two wars, an age of decaying narratives, which disturbed the increasingly conservative Eliot…

Echoes of which no-one of my age can escape finding at times in their own hearts…

I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.