Here’s Bert, peering through thick glasses, two hearing aids, a wee bit breathless, complaining how Quakers have changed in the last sixty years. “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” He asks. Yes. So that is me safely boxed, one of the less threatening ones.
I had a lovely time with Tia, walking in the garden. She does not like English literature, it is boring to be told what a book or a poem is about. She likes writing. She writes poetry, liking rules which restrict what words she can choose, which can make the poem better. Like haiku, with seventeen syllables. So I tell her one of mine:
Blossom like snowfall
Sunshine like a [“lover’s”- oops, internal censor comes out- “loving”] touch
She laughed at that. It’s about nature- as we understand haiku- then something boringly everyday. It is called “bathos”. High-flown, then crash to Earth. Though- why should we distinguish “lovely places” and “boring places”? I walked in the sunshine from the High Street past some trees and grass to Morrisons. You respond to the verse, and you can put your response into words. In Creative Writing she wrote a poem about me wanting an apple so we went to the trees, but found only cookers.
We walked between the hedge and the wall, up to the other wall.
-Oh, we’ve come to a stop.
-I was wondering when you’d notice.
-OK, we could climb that wall, go back, or go through that hedge.
So she went through the hole in the hedge, and I followed.
She is just starting GCSEs, but I am old enough that my children, had I had any, might have graduated and got jobs. People that age think differently, see the World differently. Now, the World is mine, but soon it will be theirs, so I should learn how they think. When Bert peers at me he sees someone two generations younger, nearly. I would not like to be so puzzled by the World, that people two generations younger owned it, but I wanted it to be as I had made it and had not thought to learn their ways.
Though please realise this is not Bert himself. I have no idea that such a desperate plight might be his, merely that it might be possible, and I should strive to avoid it. It was an inkling I got when I happened to be looking at him, which is not the same as a true understanding.
Bert told a story where I would admire him. He was in logistics, though that was not the word he used. A driver thought he had planned the journey badly, and was so angry he raised his fist to hit him. Bert, believing his pacifism should start with personal relations, did not defend himself, and the other’s fist stopped just short of his chin.
When I retreated to the monastery in the 90s, the Guestmaster told how men remained, to an extent, as they had been in the World- there were 70s men there, 50s men, even one or two with 1930s manners and mannerisms.