Not Young Again

Governments around the world lurching to the right. The financial mess the whole world is in. Religious revivalism; religious fanaticism. Technology and surveillance; the end of privacy. Finite resources. The burgeoning world population. Climate change.

I could go on.

I don’t think it can be right that I would turn down an offer to be young again. There is nothing about the prospects of the young nor their position in society now that I envy, that makes me wish I could roll back the years and enjoy it with them. That that’s the case can’t be healthy, surely.

A reasonable length if fairly flat road ride with Jim today, with Henley the only town we went through. We were talking the whole way around, a lot of the time about the bigger questions. We know too many people in trouble, one way or another, not to. He’s of the same view about being young again; Charli is too.

A couple of years ago I was in a pub, The Swan in Pangbourne, for lunch. A small group of quite old people were a couple of tables down from us. One of their number was a little deaf and hence prone to speaking quite loudly. She was also the most vocal of them – though not in a bossy or hectoring way. Not overhearing was not an option. At one point she said – and I wrote it down at the time: “Oh, I hope I don’t live too much longer. I don’t like this century at all.”

She was holding forth, as it were. Her companions looked a little uneasy – understandably because what is a suitable response? ‘I hope you die soon too’ is never going to be acceptable. It was just a comment and a moment though; they all carried on yakking happily enough. The chap sitting next to her – I doubt that he was her partner – caught me looking over at them, a glance prompted by that remark, and offered a slightly sheepish comedy grimace by way of apology for his companion. I just smiled but no apology was needed. I could understand her point of view.