I’m on a train to Cambridge for the funeral of a lovely bloke, Mike, I have known since I was 15 who just died suddenly and unexpectedly at 61. It seems only yesterday that we were celebrating his 60th birthday in his local pub. Tonight we will be back in the same pub to celebrate his life. I’m very sad, and as always at such times, thoughtful too.
As we get older, death becomes more and more a part of everything for all of as a matter of course, but maybe it’s because my dad died when I was ten that it has always seemed a part of everything to me, and has greatly influenced the person I am today. My (sometimes irritating, I know) in-your-face ebullience, optimism and self-confidence was born of a terrible sadness as a child: a sadness which led me as an act of self-preservation to instinctively look on the bright side of everything, and in time that stopped being an act and became how I really am. ‘Savour the moment, live every day, seize the dream when it comes your way’ as I wrote twenty years ago in ‘Just One Life’, my love song for my soon-to-be wife Robina.
And it is Robina’s love and understanding which has helped me to channel and control the more excessive aspects of my personality. These days I try really hard to rein in my confrontational tendencies and instead use calm, rational argument and humour to get ideas across, both online and in person. I don’t always succeed, but I try!
And in the age of social media I can thoroughly recommend it as a tactic.
When I look at the endless internet spats and swearing matches happening all over the place – many I am sure conducted by people who wouldn’t say boo to a goose to someone face to face – I think: come on, everyone. None of us know how long we’ve got left. If we need to argue let’s do it rationally!
Of course, there are a minority of people, on social media and in real life, who are attempting to spread disgusting, poisonous ideas – and, whether here or on the street, they must be confronted head on. I’ve done that since the 70s and will continue to do so. But most of us are good, caring people who really do have far more in common than that which divides us. Let’s never forget that.