It’s the beginning of a new month & change is in the air.
My son heads off early morning to Edinburgh, he will be away until September with his show at the Fringe Festival.
I watch him head up the road weighed down with bags and as he disappears around the corner I send with him my desires and wishes – that his show is a success – that it leads to new projects – that he enjoys himself.
At 9.30 am I have my third Covid shot booked at a clinic in the borough, I’ve worked out that the three mile round trip can be made almost entirely through local parks, a far better way of getting a bit of exercise & away from the concrete & tarmac and into a little bit of nature than an Uber or the bus.
I cross the first park and head for the second, its quite a large stretch of land, surprising for London, I manage to take the wrong footpath & get myself lost and then have to retrace my steps, adding fifteen minutes to my travel time. I take a break at the top of a small hill and watch as a Rastafarian guy with big greying dreads walks up the hill towards me, backwards.
I wonder for a moment if he’s nuts, but then remember vaguely something about walking backwards being good for a person. As he reaches the top of the hill he pauses for a moment.
I nod & say good morning. Good morning Brother he replies in a booming voice.
Are you exercising I ask.
Every morning he says. Every morning you can find me here come rain or shine.
Clearly not in the first flush of youth there’s nevertheless an energy & vitality to this man, something rather stately & grand in his demeanour, I ask him how old he is & he replies seventy-one. Well you’re looking good on it I tell him. He heads down the hill ( backwards ) and laughs out loud as he goes. He shouts back ‘Come rain or Shine’
I make a mental note to google the benefits of walking backwards.
I reach the clinic appointment on time & after a lengthy period in a somewhat depressing waiting room it’s over in a shot, I wonder if they’ve actually done it as the needle prick is so imperceivable – but a single drop of blood appears on my arm which is quickly plastered over by the nurse.
Walking back home again through the park I pause at a little open air theatre, marked out in bright colours, the stage empty, waiting for performers.
I think of my son on his way to his stage in Edinburgh & also about lines from Shakespeare, (how generally impenetrable I found his work), except All the World from As You like it which
back at fourteen or fifteen made prefect sense, back when I was sighing like furnace – a would be lover- a spotty youth, and how now it seems to me that not so far away are the slippers and pantaloons & spectacles, maybe they are here already – even if I am not ready for them.
Where did all that time go?
Me thinks ’tis time this fellow walketh backwards for contrarywise so may he continue his way forward.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.