Friday, 31 March 2017

Missing Out

A reader, Helen, has kindly written in to say she and her family enjoy my poetry and she thinks I deserve more hits. Well, thanks a lot, Helen, encouragement is always welcome. Poetry, though, is not everyone’s cup of tea and I am just happy that the blogs are still going strong after six years. Besides, I have set the statistics so Google does not count my own views; this gives me a clearer picture of readership. I am not interested in competing with anyone.

Now, today’s little poem was written in 1979. Sadly, it strikes me as being even more relevant now than it was then. A neighbour had been complaining to me about retirement, saying how he missed ‘the buzz of real life’ because all there was for the likes of retired people was a second hand existence by courtesy of television and cinema. I suggested keeping up with friends, getting out and about and doing things, going places…pleasures for which we often have little or no time when working full-time and/or bringing up a family…? (Mind you, we need to make time.) He simply shrugged and went indoors to watch an afternoon soap opera.

No, I’m not knocking TV, but now I am retired myself, I discover I have little time to watch it…for keeping up with friends, getting out and about and doing things, going places…simple pleasures for which it was often hard making time for when working.

Following a bad fall in summer 2014, I was housebound for months and spent a good year or so learning to walk again. I live alone so TV was a great comfort and companionship (of sorts) in between writing up the blogs, three sessions of (ten) physiotherapy exercises a day and chatting to friends who were kind enough to drop by and help out on a regular basis all the while I could barely walk. I missed getting out and about and do so now as much as I can; even though walking is still quite painful, I have a sturdy oak walking stick, and it is always worth making the effort.

So when I talk to young people rushing home to spend hours on social media, I can’t help feeling they are missing out…

No, I am not knocking on-line social networking, either, but there can be no substitute for real-life, face to face companionship and banter among friends, not to mention getting out and about in the sunshine…can there? Now I am older (71) and less mobile, it is harder to get out and about and meet people, but (still) always worth making the effort.

Social media. the world wide web, TV...all have a place in our lives, of course they do, but no one's life balance should be tipped in their favour...surely?


Little birds singing on the garden wall

I’ll not write you up
you’re, too sentimental
for the Age, they say

As one to another you brightly call

I’ll shut the window;
a new soap opera's about
to start on TV  

Bright sunlight distorting everything

screen-lined faces
like grotesque cartoons
in a Hall of Mirrors

Let's close the curtains, better already

now we can see
on what's really going on,
and enjoy our crisps

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2016

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised since it first appeared under the title 'To A Sunny Day' in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

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