We've been a bit full of ourselves lately. Bordering on the decrepit, and neither of us in the best of health we decided to 'slab' all the rear garden, bringing maintenance to a minimum. (More on this later.) It's no small job, neither is it cheap but its about half done and my wife in particular is highly excited. (Perhaps it doesn't take much to excite my wife and I should know!)
From a materialistic point of view I reckon we have nearly everything. Nice house, motorhome, some money in the bank (rapidly diminishing.) New gates, new sun canopy on the decking; a choice of food, warmth and the freedom to do our own thing. It's easy to get carried away.
I read my diary for May 1985 and the following made me think. (Ida was my aunt and owned a terrace house in an extremely poor area of the town.)
'Spent time with Ida unsuccessfully trying to locate 'Old McGowan', Ida's tenant. He has seemingly moved all his worldly goods around two to three miles over several trips, via a purloined shopping trolley. The items include wardrobes and a divan. The journeys have continued in pouring rain. A truly remarkable feat. We need to find him to ascertain the position regarding gas meters (full and now unattended in his absence, an act of great folly in this semi derelict area.) We fail to find him (or he simply does not wish to talk to us at either his old or new residence.)'
And the following, ironically the next day's entry.
'Bumped, literally into Fred, a colleague of some years ago. How personal circumstances change with the passage of time. Five years ago Fred was an ordinary, domesticated, rather humdrum but seemingly contented individual living the life typical to many teachers, semi detached living, unexciting but uncomplicated.
Five years later Fred lives in a caravan with a woman seventeen years his junior. He has just survived a serious nervous breakdown, suffered depression and psychiatric problems, come close to suicide, changed jobs and inevitably life style. His physical appearance has so changed that I recognise him only with difficulty. How great is the cross some have to bear, however self-inflicted that cross may be.'
I wonder where 'Old McGowen and Fred are now? Makes patios and garden makeovers seem very unimportant in life's overall scheme. Mind you its just as well, one of the builders (that's fifty per cent of the work force) has just gone home with with a badly damaged back!