Tuesday 21 April 2009

Old Mortality

I've been thinking about mortality quite a lot lately; I've been ill and people I know my age have been dying like flies, just like when I was a teenager...

When I was a ba' hair off forty(a few years ago now!), I grew my hair long again and got my leg over a motorbike after a hiatus of a dozen years.
At an illegal speed on the road tae Lithgae, doing my best Wallace and Grommit impersonation(no scarf) a sense of deja vu hit me.
It was the seventies again and me and the mates were meeting up at a pub we'd heard about before going on a run.
I got there second last(My bike was crap, it sounded like someone rattling a spoon in a tin of catfood), so we sat and waited in the warm summer sun, taking the piss out of each other.
And waited...
Twenty years later I sat outside the same pub, the bike's engine ticking as it cooled.The warm weather was the same, as was the smell of hot oil and rubber, the bike and the beer much better.
Yet I was alone, there was no teenage banter...and I could not remember his face.
I was at that pub lunchtime today.
It's a gastropub now, and all the customers were middle-aged middle-class couples, some with their grandchildren.
I joked with my wife "Three times in thirty-odd years; I'm a regular."
We got home and I received a phone call saying an old friend had died.
I've been thinking about mortality quite a lot lately.


  1. Ah Conan, there's nothing like a friend dying to bring home to us our own mortality, it's part of life I suppose. After my ex mother-in-law died some years ago I came home and spent days writing notes to my son telling him anything from what jewelry was worth keeping to when I knitted the stuff carefully stored in a case in the attic.

    As life goes on we have fewer friends I find. Yes I have, and I'm sure you do, friends we've known a lifetime, but they're far away and some, like me, aren't great letter writers. If only email had been around 30 years ago. But they're still friends I care about and know they care for me.

    It also becomes frightening for me when I think I've a lot less of my life to live than I've already lived. But we must go on because there's nothing we can do about it. One of my friends is never at home because she's 'living' she says. Constant holidays she has. Her style is my nightmare because I lived out of suitcases for years when I was trying to climb the proverbial career ladder. I love my home and it's the place I'm most content.

    I'll stop now before you start greetin'.:-)

  2. This seems to be a time for honesty. Craig Murray blogged about his bipolar disorder a day or so ago, and now here's Conan blogging about mortality.

    Kudos Conan. You've got the zeitgeist exactly right I think. As we baby boomers head off into the sunset we grieve not just for our own passing, but for the passing of a particular time and place that will never be again.

    I remember a time before television when things were delivered by horse and cart. I remember the peace and quiet before cars were common. I remember the beginnings of HP and the consumer society.

    I remember golden days of summer without a care in the world. I remember a time when we believed things could only get better, I remember thinking that when my generation takes over marijuana will be legal.

    I remember classmates and friends who are no longer with us. I remember my grandparents, my dad, my aunts and uncles, my niece - who died too young. I remember Scotland before we were all immigrants (Bashir Ahmad GTF).

    I grieve for the generation that doesn't remember these things.

    Slainte Mhath

  3. Conan, subrosa, Scunnert,

    Come on, guys, count your blessings and you'll be surprised how many you can find. Look at your children, family and friends and consider how they have helped your hearts to grow over the years. As for mortality I firmly believe that we are not human beings who have the occasional spiritual experience, but rather that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Dum spiro spero, chums!

    Conan, get blogging and start making me feel inadequate... again!

  4. Yes well conan i have been thinking a lot about mortality lately to.Given me PSA level is 10.6 which is not good...from 2.7 12 months ago


    seeing the consultant in june for the umpteenth time am on the max medication..Just have to hope its a fluke reading

    Although reading this doesn't help


    "it seems that men whose PSA rises by more than 0.75 ng/mL per year are at higher risk of harbouring the more aggressive (so-called ‘tiger’) form of prostate cancer as opposed to a more innocuous ‘pussy-cat’ tumour, which in fact carries little risk of spread."

    its the expression 'tiger' cancer as they normally say its a very slow growing cancer..I didn't here em say unless of course its a tiger one in which case you'll be dead asap...

    Still mother used to say "you die if you worry and you die if you don't so why worry"

  5. Thanks for your comments folks, I was feeling a bit down(you may have guessed!)when I wrote this.
    I am normally a glass half full person (like that woefully adequate brownlie)and I do feel much better today, mainly cause my best mate is traveling up from London today.
    There will be many half full glasses today...

  6. Three todays in one post; is that better than three tomorrows I wonder?

    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
    Signifying nothing.

  7. Conan,

    The last two lines sounds like a description of AM2's blog. Slainte mhath to you and to your best mate Niko.

  8. It's good to know I have a best mate brownlie.

    I always thought there was something missing in my life.

  9. Geez Brownlie, as they say in Dundee 'gies a brek.' All this cheer and bon homi, it's not good for those of us who like to reflect on the more serious sides of life.

    Bluddy golfers, they're all the same :)


    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  11. subrosa,

    If you really feel time is so short you should cram as much living into each day, and night, as you can. For instance, why not say to the settee occupier that you've thought of a new way to address the credit crunch. You then take all your clothes off. sashay and shimmy in front of him and say " How's that for a special offer, big boy?". If that doesn't work, I'll bring my Calum Kennedy records round for a "Highland Fling" - I'm fed up being a wee free.

  12. Eyup chuckles, glad you're on the mend, I suspect we'd be better off having that drink in the Cafe Royal sooner rather than later. Remember don't go buying any big bottles of shampoo, sachet's will do you...

  13. To true Monty, the bottle of malt I was saving for a rainy day is long gone...

  14. "As for mortality I firmly believe that we are not human beings who have the occasional spiritual experience, but rather that we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

    One hell of a perspective shift and well said. I agree and I don't care what your political affiliations are. ;p Consider it snagged.

  15. @scunnert perfect words.. and how true they are..

    @Conan.. things change, never stay still and neither should we.. live true to your soul and live life to the full then mortality is just a rite of passage not something to fear after all it is just another ride :-) xx