Here’s looking (back) at me

Last month I noticed that I had been keeping this blog for a year (my thanks again to Mei who showed me how to start). That may have been one of the reasons I eventually took the time to read it through from the beginning. Was I coherent? Was I repetitive (I certainly am at home)? What was my main drift? Was I living in the past? All these questions came into my mind.

What my mind filled with after re-reading my own thoughts was a line from a song, as so often. In this case, Eva Peron’s haunting — “Where do we go from here?” — opening to the beautiful “You must love me” — the song added to the film of the musical “Evita”. This was understandable as a repeating motif behind observations jotted down over the 2020/21 period. It so importantly featured “lockdowns” and “tiers”, and developing — I almost wrote mutating — regulations in response to the unprecedented Covid situation. I always seemed to be writing that a new set of rules was about to come into force, making a new phase. Most of the details of these developments were now no longer clear in my mind, as one period succeeded and overlapped with another. History will remember them all!

In my choices of subject matter, was I dwelling on the past? Yes, but almost inevitably given my age and recent enforced inactivity.

Was I recycling my memories? The only actual, specific repetition I noticed was two mentions of our former family dog Kiwi legging it up the stairs to invoke a higher authority — her ‘Mum’ — concerning her ‘Dad’s collapse. One of them when Kiwi herself was the main subject. Okay, that’s three times now, of course.

Did I find mistakes? I found the odd misstatement corrected as I went along, and one — or two — typos of which fortunately Medium’s format enables subsequent correction. I found the occasional thing I had quite forgotten having included.

My intention was broadly to let things stand as I had set them down at the time. As always, you discover afterwards that something might be slightly different. I wrote that a major street in Bristol could not now be known by the ‘cancelled’ name it had held at the time I was recalling. Our daughter — a Bristol resident — has told me since that the name apparently remains the same. I left my old reference as it was.

Another of my principles was to try to prevent the blog turning into an obituary site. Difficult at my age. Years ago I challenged myself: “None of your favourite writers is now living. Shouldn’t you diversify into a selection of more current names?” Well — not artificially, was my perhaps self-serving reply. Also: some of the original list were dead before I even started reading — or breathing. One’s reading is outside time. The reader is alive in a relationship with the writer, whatever the biographical facts.

But of course one notices the passing of famous names. A friend of mine wrote on Facebook about the brilliance of David Bowie. I responded to her: “I had not realised how much Bowie means to some people until I had to tell my daughter that he had died.” I think that, if by any chance I should outlive Bob Dylan, my reaction might be something like I saw in Jo’s that morning.

Finally — perhaps most basic of all — are my blogs clear, self-explanatory? I checked with my wife about one which was perhaps more technical than usual, specifying where in the stage area a prompt would come from, should one be needed. “Not certain you’d have got that across to everybody”, or words to that effect, constituted her valued candid reply. Well, sometimes you have to leave things alone. So I’ll leave it at that. You can reach some of the people some of the time.

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Roger Sansom

Roger is an actor, and lives with his family in Greater London