OK, I know I have said this before and not carried it through, but this time I really do mean to write and publish posts more frequently as it has been clearly mega-yonks since I last wrote anything. How long is a 'yonk" by the way?
The next question of course, is what to write about? I have to confess I have gone very stale since my first flushes of enthusiasm when I started this blog nearly a decade ago. As I have aged somewhat in that time, I think ageing will be my topic for this post.
It only seems a little over 26 years ago when I suddenly realised I had reached the incredible age of 40......wait......it WAS a little over 26 years ago.....gulp! I had just finished 23 years service in Her Majesty's Royal Air Force and was now being unceremoniously booted out as I had outstayed my welcome and was past my 'use by' date. Of course, this caused a tremendous shock to the system as the RAF had been most of what I had ever known and I couldn't believe the years had flown by so quickly. But more than that, for the first time I began to feel old. It occurred to me that in another 20 years I was going to be 60 and given how quickly the last 20 years had passed, I was on a fast track to oblivion. This put me in a bit of a panic. After all, unless something unfortunate happens to finish you off in the meantime, you die when you get old, and I wanted neither of these eventualities. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with the cold and panicky thought that I was going to die, and I would try to imagine what it must be like to be dead! Of course, this was all very stupid as it is clearly not like anything and beyond the realms of imagination. I suppose if you are religious then your outlook would be completely different, but I was in the process of giving up on professing to be a 'born-again' Christian, and despite being a lay preacher for a number of years and even getting a couple of GCE 'A' Levels to go to theology college to become a minister, after some good nights sleep and a few neat whiskeys I had my own 'road to Damascus' experience where I realised it was all a load of impossible and irrational tosh, so I made a complete about-turn. That is not to say I am not spiritual, but then that's getting way off track.
Anyway, as the years passed I realised that worrying about ageing and mortality was pointless and somewhat stupid. One of my work colleagues also advised me in a moment of solemnity that growing old is a privilege which many people are deprived of. Thinking about this, I realised he was quite right, and growing older or being old is not something to get depressed about, but savoured. I have always lived a very active life, and achieved many things, and I decided that this was the way I should continue. In 1997, I walked the 'Pathfinder March'. This is a annual 46+ miles walk around the original four Pathfinder Stations of the Path Finder Force which came into being on 15th August 1942, with its headquarters at RAF Wyton. I managed to complete the walk in good time and in lots of pain and mind bending fatigue, but was pleased with myself as many people much younger than me had dropped out. Since then, I have completed it 5 more times, the last time being the event on 18th June 2016. I keep myself fit and work out at the gym and try to eat reasonably healthily, though I do have a penchant for ice cream and fish n' chips! Since retirement three of years ago, I have found a new life in volunteering and community service, though not the type which the beak hands down to you in a court of law! I also follow my photography hobby avidly and keep finding lots of new ways to make use of it, both for my own satisfaction and the benefit of others, so I am kept extremely busy doing things I enjoy and find worthwhile. Thankfully, I am blessed with good health.....sort of...........but guess what??????........ I just don't care. As Spike Milligan once said (I think)..."If you say you have nothing wrong with you, then there is something wrong with you".
Basically then, I do quite like being an old git, or fart, or codger or whatever the current common terminology might be prevailing. I am going to continue doing what I do as long as I am able and to hell with the advancing years, I am going to wallow in them. I may well lose my marbles, but then as one of my friends recently said to me - "Its alright losing your marbles so long as you don't know you have lost them"!
Renée C. Byer on the Art of Photojournalism - All photos copyright of Renee C. Byer and The Sacramento Bee I wanted to share this interview with you. Award-winning American documentary photojournali...
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