Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I said I would never do this...

I swore I would never be so narcissistic as to publish a blog, but sometimes things happen that make you re-evaluate your life. For me it seems to have been one of those years, but the events of the last weekend certainly brought a few things close to home. Even the blogger program doesn't seem to want me to do this because my first piece was swallowed up only to be lost in the ether that is "the Net".

I suppose when you're young and all the people around you are about the same age you have this feeling of immortality. It's old people who die, friends and aquaintences of your parents or grandparents. If it is someone of your own age group it is usually the result of an accident, something avoidable, something tragic. Then one day suddenly you get a call to find that someone you know has died in their sleep. No smoking gun behind the curtain, no mad driver losing control at the wheel of a lorry. Just something mundane and ordinary. In this case probably a stroke. It's still tragic. David was only 40, he was overweight, didn't exercise, and tended to work around 80 hours a week. I will say here and now that he and I were not the best of friends, in fact, there were times when I really didn't like him. He could be a real loudmouthed, obnoxious prat, but if he had a friend in need he was there, no questions asked. When I first moved to Edinburgh and was sleeping on a friend's sofa bed, he offered to get a friend of his, who worked at a bank, to give me a mortgage despite my not having found a job at that point. When a taxi to take me to the train station didn't turn up it was David who paid no heed to speed limits to get me to my train, almost driving his car onto the platform as well. When I moved into my flat and wanted to get some furniture items, David just asked when I wanted to go to the store.

I think that his death has caused me to look at what I have done with my life and the answer appears to be a big fat nothing. David was a brewer. What he and his business partner didn't know about brewing beer probably wasn't worth the knowing. This is one of the things he will be remembered for. He made a mark in peoples lives, and for those of us that knew him, there will be a vacant space that he once occupied, whether that be in the way he was there if you needed his help or in the way he could annoy the pants off you, but the gap is there and we will equally miss both sides of man that left it, I suppose.

His death has brought mortality into sharp focus. He was, after all, only a couple of years older than me. I too am over weight, and the last time I tried any exercise I strained myself in the first five minutes. Plus there is a history of heart disease in my family. My grandmother was told in 1956, after her first heart attack, that if she was careful and lucky she might live six months. Well she apparently chased the doctor out of the house, and the six months lasted until November 1992, but she never was one for doing as she was told, or even what was expected of her. I'd like to think that I take after her but I'm sorry to say that I have drifted through my life taking the line of least resistance, and as a result I look back on 38 years and what do I have to show the world? Zip, nada, nothing.

If nothing else, the shock of this is making me look at my attitude to life, because, like my grandmother, David was full of life. My grandmother always grabbed life by the throat and wrung out every last ounce, and in many ways, I suppose, David was just the same.

I guess I have to take a leaf out of their mutual book and start doing some grabbing myself.

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