Magazine article The Spectator

Olden but Golden - Parental Guidance

Magazine article The Spectator

Olden but Golden - Parental Guidance

Article excerpt

Whisper it ever so quietly, but I think we might just be through the worst that winter has to throw at us.

I'm writing this down in Dorset, and though there was a ferocious wind at West Bay, whipping up huge waves that broke spectacularly over the pier, and a peculiarly spiteful heavy shower, precisely angled so that the rain penetrated deep into my left ear as I walked along the prom, it was nothing like as cold as it has been.

Better still, the roadside verges in our village of Netherbury are blessed with beautiful clumps of snowdrops, planted by the brilliant local wildlife photographer Colin Varndell and a team of volunteers, which lift the spirits whenever you see them.

I no longer feel the need to crawl into bed and hibernate whenever I have any time off. And a month from now we will reach that blessed moment when British Summer Time begins. As Larkin writes in his beautiful poem 'The Trees': 'Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.'

Of course, as Larkin characteristically insists, each new spring is a reminder that another year has passed, and 'we grow old'.

And it is with a feeling of genuine astonishment that I realise I will turn 57 next month.

Where did all that time go? And why did I waste so much of it drinking to oblivion, recovering from hellish hangovers and then starting the whole futile cycle all over again?

But there is no point in dwelling morbidly on the past. How blessed I was to have a chance to begin afresh.

Nevertheless 57 does seem scarily old, a fact cruelly emphasised by a government form I received the other day informing me of the start date of my state pension. Needless to say, they are delaying payment until I'm 66, rather than the previous 65, but it seems strange to think I am now in the last decade of my working life, though of course the end could come sooner, through death, disability or redundancy.

But these are winter thoughts and spring is just around the corner. What's more, maturity has its compensations as a couple of superb recent albums confirm. I have long had a soft spot for Chris Isaak (55), whose songs such as 'Wicked Game' and 'Blue Hotel' add an atmospherically spooky twist to classic rock and roll, and whose music has been much used by that brilliantly disconcerting film and TV director David Lynch.

Now Isaak has released a brilliant album of rock-and-roll covers called Beyond the Sun, which he recorded at the Sun Studio in Memphis where Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis all cut their early discs under the direction of the brilliant studio boss Sam Phillips. …

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