Now I’ve never been a great one for the idea of role models, possibly because those that others had, ie their parents, I really didn’t. That’s not to say that there aren’t people I admire, there are; it’s just that, like me, they’re largely people who just get on with life. Besides, how could the life I’ve had be a model for anyone? After all, most of my generation went into a job at 15 and left when they retired at 65. Changing careers, as I did, for the sixth time when I was already well past retirement age, didn’t seem like a template that would be of use to anyone. How could it be otherwise?
Also, as someone, who lived, albeit belatedly, through the cultural explosion that was the 1960’s with its colour, optimism and hope, I thought that that was itself a template for the future. I never thought that, to quote someone on the radio recently, “it was a golden age that we are unlikely ever to see again”. Yet, although the economic circumstances are different today, the social climate is the much more liberal one that my generation dreamt of. So what has that combination of a chequered life and career , along with ethos of that incredible time, created?
Well, it’s left me determined to help the next generation to see that there is an alternative to austerity, greed and selfishness. It has left me, for example, in helping people, who were homeless, to build their own sustainable homes, with practical examples of what is possible when you foster the vast amount of untapped talent that exists in this country. So much so that, one government minister on visiting one of these projects, described it as demonstrating as “the extraordinary talents of ordinary people.”
It’s also left one person realising that the life that he’s led may have something to teach the next generation and to help them to pass on their hopes and dreams to their children. Surely a better epitaph than “Blow you, Jack, I’m all right“.
PS, Thanks to Phillip Khan-Panni for suggesting my speaker’s tagline. Most appropriate.