Sunday, July 24, 2011
So – it’s been a dramatic week, totally apart from my family’s little arrival. It’s hard to deal with mixed emotions. We’re besotted with little Grandson; meanwhile people are starving in large numbers in Africa, those horrific killings have taken place in Norway and Amy Winehouse has died.
I don’t really know anything about Amy Winehouse except what one hears. The only song of hers that I’m aware of is that “Rehab” one and nothing about it seems interesting to me, especially her raspy voice. But Daughter 2 saw her in concert when she (AW) was about 20 and was very impressed, so what do I know? And anyone dying at 27 is a great tragedy, obviously.
I can’t help, however, comparing her to the boy in a documentary, A Life Fast Forward, that I watched on Friday night. His name was Alex Lewis and I think he became 22 in the course of the programme. Four years before, he’d been diagnosed with cancer and it was now terminal. And you’ve never seen a more lively and enthusiastic person. He didn’t dwell on his illness but was bent on extracting every possible ounce of joy from his remaining life – travelling abroad, skydiving and so on. In the course of the documentary he fell in love with a girl among his group of friends. Her name was Ali and she fell in love with him too. They got engaged and, just at the end of the documentary, married – though by that stage he couldn’t walk and could hardly talk. Five days later, he died.
It wasn’t only Alex who was enchanting – his whole family, his set of friends and also Ali and her family were absolutely lovely. Whereas I think I might have warned my daughter off getting involved with a boy who was about to die – however delightful he was – both families were just so happy for them and it seemed absolutely right. And we also saw them some months after his death, having a barbecue and talking and laughing so fondly about Alex and his exploits.
It was terribly sad, but so touching and heart-warming – made me feel better about humanity. And also makes me feel even more the waste in Amy Winehouse’s life. He had no choices, poor lad.
I may have blogged before about Auden’s poem Icarus – but since I can’t remember, probably neither can you. Anyway, it’s a poem I used to enjoy teaching, especially since the advent of electronic whiteboards, which allow you to put an image of Breugel's painting up on the huge screen and let the class see it. It takes them a while to spot Icarus in the corner, falling into the sea, unnoticed by the others in the picture, and of course that’s Auden’s point in the poem: individual tragedies are just that – disasters for those involved, but for the rest of us – either we don’t know about them or we do but we just have to get on with things. However sympathetic you feel, you can’t let yourself be destroyed by every tragedy in the world. But it’s hard to forget Alex; and of course the terrible events in Norway have certainly horrified us all.
Compared to all this, the Murdochs and phone hacking and the cream pie throwing don’t seem quite so important. But I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion.