Of course the year George Orwell is best remembered for is 1984, and whilst I get the book [no it is not a sci fi book predicting life in the future] it is 1939 that does it for me.
What I find curious about the book Coming up for Air, is that George Orwell wrote it 24 years before I was born...... how could he have known to write that book for me ..... my parents had not long since been born in 1939, let alone me ..... but somehow George Orwell knew to write a book that resonates with me even to this day, such that it is No# 1 in my all time top 10....... In fact it's not just to this day that it resonates, but to Thursday last to be precise..... 11th June .....
The essence of book, is to say that enjoy time in the here and now, because for sure when you try to revisit that time..... it is gone ...... just a memory in your head, distorted by the passage of time.
I was on my way back from Johannesburg after yet another really really interesting business trip, and after arriving back at Heathrow at stupid O'clock, rather than wrestling with the early morning traffic on the M25 with at least a 2 to 3 hour drive ahead of me, I thought I would stop for a coffee break and get some fresh air; I'm not a big fan of breathing in re-cycled plane air over 12 hours.
Despite being a long way from home there is a wonderful beauty spot..... a place I have not visited for the best part of 6 years but I always had fond memories of that place, so I decided to set the Sat Nav and off I deviated.
The view is wonderful and in particular a single bench where you can look south at the wonderful skyline dotted with the odd farm building, church and rolling hills. There is something very peaceful and calming about this place. After 11 days of seemingly non stop meetings and various flights in South Africa what I needed more than most was some quiet time for my self. It seemed that the only time I was on my own during these 11 days was when I was sleeping.
But why oh why did I not think about the lesson George Orwell wrote about in Coming up for Air.
I found the place alright, but I also sought to park my self in the same viewing spot, I was struggling to find it, this was not quite how I remembered it, surely it couldn't have changed that much in 6 years....... But then I managed to locate the bench I used to sit on .....
Alas, just like George Bowling,
All over grown and worn and somewhat dilapidated. It doesn't look as if many people have sat on this bench in the last 6 years ...... This is not how I remembered it. Stupidly I had thought I would take my coffee, sit on the bench and I would be transported back 6 years. Instead, I looked at the bench, saw the state it was in, and with one brief look at the scenery, I drank my coffee in the car and headed home.
What was curious, is that I have traveled home from Heathrow many times, and shortly before being home, always crossing over the Orwell Bridge [yes the bridge that crosses the very Orwell River that George Orwell took his name from], and yet all the times I have made that journey there was never an over whelming reason to re-visit this bench.
And so the spooky thing being, was on 11th June miles from home, I decided to make a detour ..... I looked at the plaque on the bench, the plaque I last looked at some
6 years ago ......
I think should I find myself driving home from Heathrow at stupid o'clock once more, as I am sure I will, I will merely set the Sat Nav straight for the Orwell Bridge .......we suffer with the impossibility of 'retaining one's childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies' – because it postulates a world in which these things are simply not there any more.