Friday 29 April 2022


 DC and I usually take an early evening walk along the Derwent Walk, a former railway line. It's decades since any trains ran the alignment and the route is for pedestrians and cyclists now but we sometimes note that looking down the path you almost get the sense of a steam train, like a ghost train, trains that once were... a past time that almost passes through present time. The past in the present. I suppose it's the vestiges of the old railway that we see and our knowledge of other railways fills in and colours what we perceive with things that might be assumed missing from a certain picture, a picture of railway that's been awakened by those vestiges. It doesn't seem like that of course. It seems like you can almost see a train, sense the motion and perhaps steam and smoke...

Yesterday on Radio 4's Today program there was an item about a TV series called Heartstopper. Apparently it's about gay teenage love and the interesting thing is that the drama frames this as a simple first love, teen thing with little gay angst and all the usual 'old gay stories' of coming out and struggling for acceptance. So things have moved on, it's a non-issue. The guest talking about this drama said it was the drama he would have liked to have been on TV in his teens rather than being a teen in the time of Section 28 - a horrible piece of late 1980's legislation by the Thatcher government aimed at banning the 'promotion of homosexuality'. His comments about shame and feeling he'd committed a 'thought crime' for fancying another boy and trying to purge such thoughts from his mind for fear they would show on his face struck a chord with me. My own teens were in the early '80's so I'm a little older than him but yes, that's how it was and I felt the usual sadness well up. The interview continued to explain that a number of men of our age feel a melancholy over this and there are comments about the teen romance that we so wish we could have had but of course did not have. This is ground I've written about before, usually when something triggers the memory and the past comes into the present. Of course the past is in the present, as is the future. It's not that there's some person who would be as they are irrespective of the past, that those experiences we didn't have somehow can be said not to matter because that's all gone now, all in the past. Things we didn't have like things we did have, have made us what we are in the present. The melancholy isn't so much about the past as the present, the scars are still with us. But not just the scars. All human life is difficult and in the words of the song 'there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in'.

Long gone trains appearing on repurposed alignments, memories reawakening, shared memories, shared stories, vestiges of the past... this is part of the nature of the present and ultimately the future. And as DC and I have said a few times recently, time isn't as linear as we assume. More and more I see the interconnectedness of things not just in the present but across time too. It is spring now and everything in nature is bursting out - fresh green leaves and wonderful flowers. There are Bluebells, one of DC's favourites in the woods and it is lovely in the sunshine. I remember to look up and be thankful that here we're not directly affected by the wars that are taking place in the world and that despite the environmental emergency there's still nature to cherish. I'm glad times have improved in many ways and I hope as a species we can more and more see the interconnectedness of everything and act with wisdom and from the heart - a new spring in our ways.