So, I suppose that’s it then…

For the three people that look forward to these missives please accept my apologies for the scarcity in the last month or so – pressure of work and an horrendous bug/cold in the last few days have stopped me from producing (no, not man-flu, please do not bore me with that cobblers). So today I totter, bleary eyed, into the sunlight, fittingly, like a new beginning on Easter Monday. Yes, I have arisen, though my impact on humanity is likely to be less relevant it has to be said.

Having been brought up a left-footer the significance of Easter to a large part of the world’s population is not lost on me, though, to be honest I have absolutely nothing to do with any kind of religion whatsoever – I also have no problem with people who do have a religion, it’s just not for me. What I don’t have time for is a religion that preaches hate, murder, division, intolerance and inequality…and there you see my dilemma, life’s too short to search for one that doesn’t do at least one of those.

How about let’s be nice to each other and try to rub along together?

I sound like a hippy now (funnily enough I am listening to ‘Harvest’ as I write this and currently reading Neil Young’s autobiography), but  do think that if we all applied this fairly basic principle to life it would be much simpler.

The carnage, hate, murder and disgusting bigotry of recent years is emotionally wearing to say the very least, exemplified by the acts in Brussels and Lahore in just the last week and when you see absolute cretins like Trump throwing their hat into the political ring  the future only looks bleaker.

Who knows what the answer is?

As you become older, more confident and reflective, stuff starts to fall in place, but, to quote Mr Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend ‘The more we learn, the less we believe to be true, the more we prove, the more remains to be proved’ .

I read a lot – anything I can get my hands on really, but lately I have read a whole series of biographies (auto as a rule) and the two most recent have been really thought provoking – not because they are profound or enlightening but rather as catalysts for me. The first was that of Tom Baker- ‘Who on earth is Tom Baker?’ It will be of little surprise to most I suspect to find that Mr Baker is a trifle eccentric (I’m being ironic here, he is as mad as a hatter!), however the honest, candid nature of his writing was hysterical, horrifying, challenging, upsetting and thought provoking. As a book I would recommend it, but it is not a comfortable read. The catalyst to me was his Catholic upbringing, which I could obviously relate to.

Let me state here and now that I had an incredibly happy, blessed and loving childhood with absolutely no skeletons, also from a completely different generation and socio-economic background, however, the stuff he wrote about the messages we were given as children designed to invoke the fear of God and guilt – conditioning basically – were very familiar and on a small scale made me relate to how similar conditioning in all religions can lead to the sort of horrors we see today, but frankly these are just more stark to us now because they are happening to us, on our screens in the age of communication (or should I say broadcast, there doesn’t seem to be too much communication going on), it’s just modern versions of what has been going on throughout history.

The thing is I have no answer for you, no grand solution. Except possibly be nice to each other, respect each other and try to rub along together. A great theory and naive I know because if there is one lesson to be learnt from history it is that evil has to be confronted…trouble is there seems to be so much evil out there how/where/when do we start?

Easter was dreaded by me growing up – church every day, Thursday-Sunday and as an April birth I had the great misfortune of my birthday (let’s face it every kid’s annual highlight along with Christmas) occasionally falling on Easter (twice on Good Friday, what a nightmare). Then as I grew and became a rugby player, Easter was the time you went away on Rugby Tour. Shall we say that my first adult tour to Lyon at the age of 18 was something of an eye-opener and I have certainly never spent Easter as I did as a child since this particular revelation!

Funnily enough, you could say that rugby in many ways is the closest I get to religion, it certainly taught me respect, fraternity and a selfless sense of belonging that I have never encountered anywhere else. Maybe not things that those who have never played the game either relate to the game or understand…but that is because they have never played the game!

(By the way the second book I referred to is by Glyn Johns and is called ‘Sound Man: A life Recording Hits with the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces…’ this title is by no means an exhaustive list of the brilliant artists Glyn Johns Produced or Engineered for but pretty much indicates what an amazing and interesting career he had. He is a person who takes life seriously and does not suffer fools, which may well underline why he was in such demand at the time which for me was the absolute peak of music. There is little elaboration, there is a great deal of honesty and some really interesting stories. How did it make me think? Well it just made me wish I’d been at an age to live through it (I did live through but as a kid) rather than just appreciate it now from afar).

The opening gambit of ‘So I suppose that’s it then’ refers to Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter, keep up!)., the day on which the Last Supper is celebrated and involves all sorts of ceremonies including the washing of the feet – let’s not go there, it’s turning me over just thinking about it (and also makes me think of Jim Royle, on being asked by the ever-suffering Barbara why he never rubbed her feet, lovingly says ‘What those old trotters, I’d need a gas mask and a pair of asbestos gloves?’).

Anyway, I found out that this year the Maundy Money was dished out from St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle by Her Majesty. I rushed out to the letter box, but my invite wasn’t in there so I guess that’s it – each year I cut my toe nails on the Monday before Easter just in case (I don’t bother washing them, that’s what the ceremony’s for isn’t it?) I get the call up but no, not even when it’s held in my home town, there’s no red and white purses for Tone.

I guess this week’s missive has been a bit more serious and darker than usual – is it the times? Is it the recovering of wellness?…I don’t know, I will doubtless return to my usual sarcasm and humour, but to finish topically and square the circle rather well (we’re back to idioms!), ‘Maundy’ is a derivative of  ‘mandatum’, which means mandate (you CANNOT be my age and see that word without thinking about Sacha Distel) or command which refers to the command of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper to ‘Love one Another’ – I don’t think it matters who said it really, it’s a good philosophy and nice way to finish.

Now, where did I put those joss sticks and my twelve string guitar?…..