So today Nelson Mandela, Father of modern South Africa and its first Black President, and Barack Obama, the first Black President of the Unites States of America, two giant figures, may meet. Despite his public scruples about giving the Mandela family space, I imagine that privately Mr Obama is hoping that a brief meeting will be possible, one away from the cameras, one that an exhausted and very sick man can cope with. And for his part, I imagine that Mr Mandela is hoping that the doctors will let him see Mr Obama man to man, or father to son if you prefer, even if it has to be simply the grasp of a hand with no words, and a shared gaze. If I were in charge of events, I would ensure that a mutual salute of some kind took place. I am going to ignore the news reports until this post is published. I do want these men to encounter each other. I want to believe it will happen, and I want these personal words of goodwill to both of them to be published when it is still a possibility, and not just a moment that could have been, but never was.
Also today another momentous event of a very different kind. The Rolling Stones on stage at Glastonbury! When I was in my teens, I liked the Stones' music, but thought them too brash, too physically disturbing. Their songs, which spoke of Nights Together, drugs and a generally unsafe and rebellious lifestyle, were too hard to take. The Beatles also offered stuff with an edge, but it was wrapped up more appealingly, the edge was softer, and their musicianship seemed more playful and more universal, even transcendental. So I was overwhelmingly a Beatles fan who in darker moods would listen to the odd Stones track. That position did not change until I met M---, who was the most ardent Stones fan I have ever come across. She actually saw the Stones at their earliest London gigs. She knew all about them. If her father, then an RAF officer, had permitted it, she would have become a groupie, with a special regard for Mick Jagger. Who indeed, let's admit it, still cuts it on stage, still looks lock-up-your-womenfolk-dangerous despite being Sir Mick nowadays, and is still articulate and credible as a human being with 10,000 volts running through him. A liver wire than most, shall we say, with an ugly lived-in face of leather maybe, but also hair and slim hips, and charm, and something to say even at seventy-odd. Strange that he always liked cricket. Stranger still that, when you examine it, you find in the Stones' songs, and especially Mick Jagger's own, not only a tormented despair that love can last, but a yearning to find redemption and a state of grace.
I wonder if M--- will be glued to the TV screen coverage of Glastonbury? I won't be. No TV reception here on site at North Berwick! Instead, if there is a fine sunset, I will enjoy a beach walk and reflect on the delights of my visit to Scotland. I shall certainly want to return next year, unless funds are at such a low ebb that long-range touring is simply not affordable. I cried when leaving Scotland in 2010. It was, I knew, the last big caravan trip M--- and I would ever share. It had been a good one, but it was the end of an era. Now, when I leave tomorrow for England, for the Lake Distict, I will feel a whole lot happier. No tears this time. If I do feel emotional, it will be because my life is on track again, because I am pushing forward with ever-increasing confidence. Successful holidays are strong evidence for a life that is going somewhere, that has direction and purpose, that can be planned. A life that can suddenly explode with opportunities and new interests, such as, well, collecting china cats!
I'm only human. I don't want to be sad and at war with myself any more.