It’s nearly Christmas and people in town are still rushing around shopping as if their lives (and their relationships) depended on buying the right presents and supplying vast quantities of food and drink that would normally last more than a week, but seasonal gluttony demands shall be consumed in a couple of days. Just now my wife and I are living less by routine than by the discipline of ‘’lists ‘compiled to monitor our progress, or lack of it. Our days are no longer measured by the hours but by what we can get done before the part of our family in the U.K. departs for the less tense culture of our Spanish Christmas, where the birth of Jesus is given less prominence than the Three Kings who searched him out.
Raymond Briggs is the author of the cartoon books, ‘The Snowman’ , ‘Father Christmas’ and ‘Father Christmas Goes on Holiday’. He calls his books ‘graphic novels’ and they have become famous not only as books but as plays and films. They are unique in this country and are enjoyed as much by adults as by children.
With the same skill but for a different audience, nearly 20 years ago he published a picture biography of his mother and father. Called ‘Ethel and Ernest’, it movingly captures the feel of a respectable working class couple in post-War Britain.
Briggs is now 73 and was recently interviewed by Emma Tucker of The Times. She got the impression that he is enjoying his seventies. But she quotes him as saying ‘When you get old, everyday life takes over. You seem to spend all day doing everyday life things – shopping, going to the Building Society, going to the chemist and all that. Then when you get back, its time to walk the dog again. Before you know where you are its 4 o’clock and you haven’t started. It happens time and time again, its maddening’’.
Time is always relative to our capacity to fill it or keep up with it.
As you get older its true that time often seems in short supply. It would be much, much worse if time dragged and every day was a day unfilled. Better to be ‘maddened’ as Briggs says than to be bored. I’m reminded of the dreadful words of Shakespeare’s Macbeth : To-morrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time…
No creeping for us!