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The Daily Paradox

The Daily Paradox: ARRIVE

Thanks to Ren Chun Ho for the idea and the title

Life is more than the F1, good fun as it may be. Life is a journey – how many times have we been told that? We know where we start, though not precisely as it happens. We know what will end it, though not for sure that it will be the end. We know roughly the time we have in between the two and we are taught, encouraged, compelled and ordered to fit in as much as possible. It certainly seems like that anyway.

On 30th April 1971 Kingsley Amis wrote a letter to Nature Magazine in which he said ‘More means worse’. Myriads of people have since spent a lot of time trying to prove him wrong. I don’t think that they have succeeded.

As a child in WWII I was subject to rationing, especially of Confectionery, then more affectionately known as ‘Sweets’. Of course we wanted more than the ration book coupons allowed. But I also recall the joy of savouring the delicious, sugary taste of the one toffee or single piece of milk chocolate that rewarded a fully completed meal where even the greens had been eaten. If ever there was a feeling of arrival, this was it.

Those were the days when the trains stopped long enough at the big stations for a leg stretch, a coffee, even (if available) a doughnut. A rest from the clackety-clack of the wheels on the rails was as good as a short holiday. A word with the guard gave you participation in the logistics of running a railway. When you were old enough he might even let you wave his green flag to start the entourage on the next phase of its journey. An embraceable privilege.

Nostalgia for leisure is all very well but now we must brace ourselves for the instant AI response to impossible questions and for swift solutions to problems that couldn’t wait. Anyone of my age will be grateful for a medical diagnosis that takes minutes instead of months. Living life to the full is a treat and no mistake. So why can’t we get the best of both worlds?

Partly because the two worlds clash. Getting there faster gives you more time to get away earlier and fit in another delight. Two delights where you would previously have had only one! Must be better, surely?

Sorry to disappoint. The flash-by pleasure of both will not begin to compensate for the lost swilling, dwelling, savouring, enjoying, sheer grundling of one. You haven’t grundled? Start doing so now and life will take on a whole new meaning for you. In my younger days I used to enjoy an alcoholic drink or two. In many journeys across the globe the airline staff were always ready with my ‘Scotch and water, no ice’. (Why freeze the taste out of a perfectly balanced malt?) Sipped slowly it warmed the cockles of the heart while gently preparing the route for a second round. Just a little grundle.

Today it is all ‘shots’. The assault of a stinger on a tender palate is more tsunami than graceful lapping tide. As the old beekeeper used to say ‘One beer drunk slowly is a better warm up for the second than a gulped pint’. Ren Chun calls the joy of time gratitude; I call it appreciation. And when we both define our words we find that we agree to agree.

I am old now and have much to do before I die. But top of the bucket list is to enjoy every moment, to linger over every pleasure, to extend the taste of life rather than its span. Wherever I go after life I won’t come this way again. I want to treasure the trees that bloom now.

They are the trees on the other side of the field and I must reach them.

Good morning
John Bittleston

Anyone for a grundle or two? There are always several waiting at [email protected].

20 February 2024