A couple of days ago, posting the video of Peter Cook’s wonderful satire of the judge summing up the Thorpe trial (which performace was itself a twenty year on reprise) I calculated that, to a student today, the reference was as distant as a joke about an event in 1938 was to me as a student. Yet I remember, vividly, the detail of Norman Scott crying as he bit the pillow and poor Rinka getting shot. That made me think I am very old indeed.
This was reinforced by reading a review of the current Monty Python Live revival. Again, to me as a student, the Goons seemed ancient history, so irrelevant and distant that I found older people’s nostalgia for them a part of the gulf between me and their different world. Well, to today’s students, Monty Python is two decades more removed than the Goons were from me.
I got into Monty Python a couple of episodes in to the first series, as word got round the school. There was something slightly illicit about it. There was a divide between those who could watch it and those whose parents refused to have it on (families only had one TV in those days). I seem to recall – and it may be a false memory – that it was even quite difficult to find, subject to strange time changes in the schedule, but I may just be building on a recollection of one night’s disappointment.
I wrote above that it made me think I am old, quite deliberately. I don’t feel old at all. Emotionally, I don’t feel significantly different to how I felt at eighteen – despite an extraordinary collection of life experience, I feel love and compassion in just as consuming a way as I did as a teen. I certainly don’t feel a great deal wiser, and I don’t seem to have become more cautious, and certainly not more right wing. But I make absolutely no effort to be young, What I have not done is adapt my tastes – I do not try to be trendy, (and that word perhaps is itself dating).
When I see my reflection, I always have a moment of disconnect as to who that heavy, fat, lined person is. I wonder how I got trapped in here. It is not that I am in denial about how old I am or how I look. I don’t have a different image of my physical self in my head. It is just that I can’t imagine that stolid and respectable person being moved or wracked by the emotional storms inside me or the radical thoughts on society. Than I realise I must misjudge others, daily, on the basis of their appearance.