Sunday, 13 December 2009

the age of or

AGE… or your twenties last forever

I’m 47.

I turned 47 in Ottawa.

Where I’ve had my last six birthdays.

[But not my next.]

And people said to me, weren’t you 47 last year?

And I said, no I bloody wasn’t.

Last year I was 41.

And the year before that I was something like 36.

And the year before that I was something like 32.

And the year before that I was something like 29.

You know what I mean?

Lots of people know exactly what I mean.

Especially the ones over 40.

Blimey it all speeds up on you, don’t it?… My 40s aren’t far from over, and they’ve been a blink.

My 30s sped up as they went on… I’m not really sure what happened at, say, 38, or 41, or 34.

While my twenties lasted forever.

In fact that’s probably a triusm. Your 20s last forever.

[Mine did… and what’s more, it took me a very long time to uncoil myself from the post-adolescenjt torments]

And some Life Advice would be. Your 20s go on forever, so you’ve got loads of time, but you do have to do something in the end.

The other Life Advice would be, life is long.

Why did no-one ever sit down and din it into my head: LIFE IS LONG…?

Why did no-one ever say… You’re going to spend along time being the you you become, so it pays to be becoming a you you like.

And I know it’s a cliché, though I don’t know who first said it but… time does get all scrambled on you.

I ran a poetry club in North London from 94 to 99. Which seemed like decades

And I ran one in Edinburgh from 2001 to 2005, and that seemed very quick. Yet I lived there the same amount of time and it felt I was there for years and years. It was a whole lifetime.

And I lived in Stoke Newington from 86 to 88, and that seemed like ages.

And I’ve been doing Canada since 2001, and touring since 2003. And that doesn’t feel that long.

I dunno, but you know what I mean… The passage of time is all scrambled. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve had three lifetimes since I was 32. Without mentioning the one or ones before.


for its just



and me again

hauling the unwieldy

baggage and

luggage of my


with my grimy





over clutteredly catching terrain

the rickety train carriages

and wheelless rickshaws

and unfunct pantechnica

of my years

with this lumpy


dishevelled head



third day

a day too many

the cold creeping into our bones

must escape

we feel like the wall of black cloud eastwards into tamil nadu seen from doddabetta... we were of a level with its height ... and it was a wall of bad weather like none i have ever seen... people have been dying in the rains and landslips, which puts our passing clouds of grey gloom into perspective

still we had a nice stroll rather thnh trek over the hill and tea plantations... the great view invisible in the mist/ cloud... it all looking decidedly welsh... or shropshiresque... with the pale grass cropped by the sheep ...except for the toda temple of the nilgiri animists

the nilgiri are the original people here... before the british came it was only them... while now many tamils have moved up... and, what with the tea the sheep the gorse the eucalyptus the rhododendrons the conifers the tamils the tourists the anglo-indian houses the catholic churches the hindu temples the mosques the race-course the internet the arboretum the botanical gardens, we wonder how much up here is original apart from the nilgiri and the few remaining bits of forest

maybe i like india because here, in part at least, i can only be an outsider ...which is a secure thing ...when i have spent most of my life feeling like an outsider, or on the verge of being an outsider, neither in in nor out, out nor in... which has been a both a good thing and a destabilising thing...

so i never expected to belong... and here i know i never can


next stop sultan bathery, kerala, west and lower and warmer

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