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Laurence Inman’s Blog

JESSIE MAE BANNER HEADLINE

08-05-2008

Read to the bottom and it will all make sense. Blimey, it’s frightening what a touch of sunshine can do to a man. Especially that bit about the underwear.

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –

Where weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring

The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing.....

Ah, Gerard Manley Hopkins!

The first reliably hot days of the year; it makes you glad to be alive.

I’m glad also that I live in a time when it is perfectly acceptable for men my age to dress more or less as they did when they were eighteen (or eight) – tee-shirt (stained) shorts (unironed) sandals, and that’s it.

Not even underwear.

Such a welcome change from the days when a man had to dress like a royal butler before venturing out, even in the most sweltering weather.

Suit, cravat (with ornate pin) separate collar (starched to razor straightness) waistcoat, cufflinks, cutaway jacket, pressed trousers, shoes and spats polished to perfection and a carnation in the buttonhole.

All to nip over to the shop for a Mail and a packet of ten Park Drive. Or do the garden.

Not any more. Yesterday I walked to Moseley and back in my running gear and no one turned a hair.

That’s another thing: running. You often see blubbery oldish grey-bearded blokes trudging round the streets now. Just a few short decades ago such a sight would have brought the neighbourhood to a standstill, with baying crowds of people pointing and laughing.

I think I’ve sussed what the deep-down motive for running is, especially for the more mature man.

It’s a good excuse to run round in shorts and a vest.

Just like when you were a kid. I went running with my brother a few years ago. We stopped half-way round to pick up conkers.

What is all this juice and all this joy ? asks Hopkins later in his poem.

It’s partly the longing to be young again. To be given a second chance, and not mess it all up this time. To go back and say to someone ‘I’m okay now. That wasn’t really me. I was an idiot.’

This is why people reach back into the past to contact old friends. It’s very easy these days with the internet. I’ve done it myself. It’s quite often a disappointment, but interesting nevertheless.

Girls I knew in the sixties, who were gazelle-like beauties then, now frighten me with their maturity. Chaps who had nicknames like ‘Slosher’ and ‘Gasher’ the last time we met are now middle-aged bores.

The bubbling gang of smirking boys who were in my form at school have turned out to be alcoholics, criminals, suicides, despairing husks of the brilliant lads they used to be.

There is one particular person I have tried to find, so far without success. Her name doesn’t appear when you google it, which is why I want to put it here, so that if she idly puts her own name in one day she’ll discover this article. I last spoke to her some years ago and I’d love to get in touch again.

I have no dishonourable motive; I am a happily-married father of three. I simply want to have a chat and (probably) discover that it’s just as well that life turned out this way rather than....

Anyway, Jessie Mae Banner, who became Jessie Mae Levine, if you see this drop me a line at laurenceinman at blueyonder.co.uk.

HAVE YOU EVER CONTACTED AN OLD SCHOOL FRIEND OR COLLEAGUE FROM THE PAST? HOW DID IT TURN OUT? LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE STIRRER FORUM.
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