Today I reached one of those awful milestones. A birthday that ends with a 0. I thought I would reflect on what I have learnt over the years.
First, avoid placing things in the garden you can trip over. Feeling that I ought to be out planting birthday bulbs on this last sunny day before winter returns, I fell into a rose bush and now my backside looks as though it has been mauled by a tiger. I don’t look forward to tomorrow’s bruising and smarting scars. Luckily, I didn’t damage the camelia which is at its best.
Second, there is nothing better in life than the gift of family and friends. Nurture them. I woke up this morning to best wishes from Australia, India and Italy, followed by lots of British friends and I know that Barbados has just woken up because another greeting from an old schoolfriend has pinged up while I am writing. As much as I dislike much of Facebook, one can’t deny that it keeps us in touch, no matter the distance. Long may those firendships last. I look forward to seeing my gorgeous family this weekend and am sad for the people who, for whatever reason, miss theirs on a significant birthday. This morning my mother rang, 98 years old, and with no memory to speak of, but she wished me a happy birthday for the first time in years. That’s a memory to treasure.
Third, you are never to old to learn new things until your brain gives up. If you keep your brain active, hopefully it won’t give up until your body does. Stay curious, use your imagination, say yes to new opportunities, keep pushing yourself to achieve new goals.
Fourth, our parliamentary system is long broken. Many politicians are venal, lack courage and don’t have the brains of a gnat. I woke up one day in my thirties and realised that those in charge of our destiny are often lacking in common sense. Thirty plus years later, I realise that it is now far worse. it used to be said that those who can do, do, and those that can’t teach. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world, so I take issue with that statement. I now feel it should be – those that can do, do, those that can’t go into politics to make a mess of everyone else’s life – with some noble exceptions, a dear friend among them.
Fifth, dig for the truth. Don’t accept the lies which are told. As an author, I don’t accept one source and I treat everything with scepticism. Never automatically believe what you read in the newspapers. I have been misreprsented by local press at times – it gave me a healthy disregard for journalism. Also victors write the history. There’s always an alternative view. Seek it out.