Now then lad

I’m a reader. Even as a young lad, wherever we went, I normally had a book with me. We went to an airshow once and I don’t know whether it was boredom at the planes, or simply that it was a nice summers day and the current book was particularly rivetting, but I didn’t actually see much of the display. As my mum commented, I had my head stuck in a book as usual, which normally meant I was away on an adventure, somewhere far away.

My old man wasn’t much of a reader at the time. The bloke next door taught me to play chess and when we moved I needed a new sparring partner. Dad kept promising to learn the game, he didn’t though, so in my wisdom and youthful optimism, I bought him a “Teach yourself chess” book for his birthday. He never did read it, nor learn the game. Shame really.

In his old age, he has acquired a taste of a bit of reading though. Early this week, he brought down “Now then lad”, by PC Mike Pannett, something he thoroughly recommended. He wasn’t wrong. Over the last few days, I’ve started and finished it. Humurous and engaging, real life tales of a local bobby, told in a self depreceating manner about life as a PC in our very only North Yorkshire. 

If you get the chance, give it a whirl. I will be looking out for more tales from the author.

Slow down

Last night my wife ran a bath for me. I was just finishing some work and wanted to have a relaxing, wind down and a bit of a soak. As I was getting in, my mind was still on whatever bit of work I had been dealing with, some programming challenge that I was thinking through. The water was hot, too hot, the type of temperature my wife likes her bath to be.

“Bloody hell” I realised about at the point when I was almost fully in. “That’s way too hot” I gasped and ran the cold in. I had slowly eased myself in without my brain registering the heat until it was too late, I was already full committed as it were.

Later, I was out walking somewhere. Normally, I walk pretty quick, I have always been the sort of person in a hurry. Whether walking, working, writing, everything is full on, intense, focused and done with the optimum methods in mind.

I forced myself to slow down, to walk with a a measured pace. I started to think about the phrase “Live every day like it was your last”. Maybe because Dad had been round earlier, and it is a miracle he is still alive almost a decade after his heart attack and triple bypass operation. If I lived every day like my last, we would be broke tomorrow!

Occasionally I have thoughts like this though. I realise that I am working too hard, moving too fast, my eyes and thoughts focused on the destination, not really appreciating the journey itself.

We all get like that I suspect. Life just happens to us. Stuff gets thrown at us. We deal with it. We rush around, particularly with the pace of modern life, and this doesn’t give us time to appreciate the things around us.

So take a moment today. Pause what you are doing. It will still be there when you hit play again. Look and think about the things around you. Take a little time to appreciate them.

The Living Years

I had some bad news yesterday. I’m not ready to share it yet. I have some conversations that need to happen first.

This morning, I am still feeling somewhat reflective and introspective. I tend to listen to 80s music when I am in this mood. And I came across this classic on YouTube. It always reminds me of my old man.

In my early 20’s my Dad and I fell out. I held lots of resentment over how he had been when we were kids. I don’t verbalise such things. But they remained hidden, lurking between the surface of every interaction we had. It was inevitable. We fell out big style.

And I didn’t speak to him for a number of years. He planned to remarry and I didnt get an invite. Eventually we moved past it, kind of, but we both held resentments. I moved far away. We saw each other infrequently. Time moved on. Over a decade on. Sometimes a year or more would pass between us even talking. It had been something like two years since we spoke when I got a call to say he had had a heart attack. All bets were off. I jumped in the car, collected the wife, drove across the country to see him.

You have to admire doctors, surgeons and the rest of the medical profession. They tore open his chest, smashed several ribs in their haste to get to his heart, and spent eight hours with him on the table. He was out of surgery when I arrived. High on morphine, drifting in and out. More family turned up. Rows ensued between them. Jeez. He’s in intensive care, tottering on the edge and they cannot put their differences aside. That pissed me off. Yet it was also a reality check for me too.

He survived. And still does to this day. We have set aside our differences. We don’t talk about the things that happened in the past. He has his regrets and I have mine. Occasionally in our conversations, we might stray close to the subjects of the past, we catch each other’s eyes and move on. Or I give him a gentle reality check. We all must take responsibility for our own actions. But those actions are in the past and there isn’t anything that can change that.

We understand each other. My resentments, they were merited, but there is no point to them. All they did was eat away at me. And truth be told, when we weren’t talking or getting along, I missed the grouchy old bastard.

Life it too short for resentments and regrets. Every day could be your last. Make the absolute most of it. While you still can.