|Joe E Brown and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot - "Nobody's Perfect!"|
When I met my future wife at the University of Manchester, we became friends for three years before we started “courting.” During the three years of friendship we confided to each other aspects of our lives, families, friends, lovers, university departments, ambitions, fears, hopes and dreams. When we married in 1986 I think we thought we knew each other pretty well.
|Rose Leslie as Ygritte in Game of Thrones|
29 years later we now know that in 1986 we knew comparatively little about each other. And we thought we were good at communicating back then. But we left out quite a bit of important stuff. Some quirky foibles and some murky peculiarities. Some ugly inner grumbles. Some shoulder chips, some lurking anxieties. But there were also a few wonderful glories about each other that had yet to bloom. As time went by, though, the glories, grumbles, foibles and important stuff began emerging. So I would say we know each other much better now.
Life’s festival battering
Particular moments have created bright memories: sitting on balconies looking at views, raising a glass in celebration, smiling across a crowded room, sharing in quiet victories, loving children. Other moments have caused challenges: organising childcare, moving house, being bereaved, building careers, coping with illnesses. Life’s journey has been all about reacting to the ups and downs of twists and turns and the ins and outs of the lives of the people we know (and even the people we don’t know but we hear or read about.) You get to know someone intensely when life’s festival batters you and exposes you, warts and all.
|Peter Lely's portrait of Oliver Cromwell - "warts and all"|
Oliver Cromwell said to the painter, Sir Peter Lely: “….I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.” As an avowed monarchist I shouldn’t give Oliver Cromwell blog-space, but I admire him in the same way I respect and revere Maximilien Robespierre (more on him in the future) – a visionary at the very least, someone who wanted to make a positive difference to society at the time, but whose road took a series of catastrophic turns. Cromwell’s “warts and all” philosophy seems to be a good way to approach your friends and loved ones. Nobody’s perfect. And warts make you human.
I think I was round about 24 years of age when it finally dawned on me that I would never “grow up.” Or maybe that was the age when I realised that you never stop changing.
Being “grown up” seems to be a fictitious state of mind. I don’t know that you can ever say you are finally “grown up.” You just have more commitments and responsibilities – but you are often no more equipped to deal with life's complications than a younger whippersnapper with a smart phone.
In my final years of teaching I was able to see with startling clarity how incredibly assured and knowing and optimistic and hopeful Sixth Form students were, even when they were making claims that should be disputed and qualified. It’s a relief to realise that the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know. And that’s OK. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple” declared Algernon in Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest and, though witty, it is a truth that gets truer as time goes by.