At 6 a.m. GMT tomorrow - that's 1a.m. EST - I will have completed 78 years of life on this planet, years in which I have set foot in 37 countries, met national leaders (Mandela, Smith, de Klerk), and all in all, led a very interesting and accommodating life. I have achieved 250 catapult launches and carrier arrests, survived a mid-air collision and a separate crash landing, appeared in repertory theater in a dozen or more plays, ridden in mine-proof vehicles with a police escort to assess the damage wrought by terrorists on lonely farmhouses, and I have swum with barracuda off the Kenyan coast. Sure I have made some mistakes - don't we all? But I have striven to make my life both interesting and the life of a gentleman. I get livid when I read or hear of someone mistreating a woman, and though I admit to having sowed plenty of wild oats in my time, I don't believe that I have ever treated a woman with disrespect, and this may be backed up by my 13 years of marriage to Lizzie - still to this day without a single argument or fight. I pray every day that I will get to live at least as long as my late dad, who crossed over in his 94th year.
So what have I learned? What advice can I pass on to my peers, my relatives, and my friends far and wide? I have written extensively in another earlier post about Time, and I sincerely believe in all of my previous comments thereto. Namely, that Time is the most important and valuable asset that you will ever be given. Cheerish the Time that you are given, for you never know when it is going to be taken away from you.
I have been writing my memoirs - The Graceful retirement of an English Gentleman and to boost the page count have included as an addendum all of the poems that I wrote in my earlier days and all of the blog posts written in the Internet age. I am up to 236 pages so far, and when complete will distribute it to friends and family - for posterity and so that I am not completely forgotten.
I am an avid reader, getting through a couple of novels every week - but then I have a lot of Time on my hands. To keep myself informed of political affairs and the like I have taken to regularly read the Reporter at Large column in the New Yorker magazine. Now that the warm weather is here (83˚ F today) I shall start painting again. I would have been doing so today but for the wind, which at a steady 17 knots was trying to get my easel airborne. Lizzie bought me a set of gouache tubes so I will try painting with those as a medium - there's a first for you.
Well guys, as you can see I'm still around and for any of you who are in the business am looking for some writing jobs, so if you're interested, do drop me a line.