Although I declared this blog an election-free zone a few weeks ago, I just have to break my pledge (very political, that!) and comment on the sudden, unforeseen rise to prominence of the Liberal Democrats. Thanks to a couple of live TV election debates between the leaders of all three main political parties (a first for British politics - though I should probably say English, as Scotland and Wales weren't represented at all), and thanks also to a confident and charmingly persuasive Nick Clegg whose face, even if it won't ever launch a thousand ships, is rather more than presentable (at least according to the women I've talked to), it appears that the Lib Dems now have a real chance of making their mark on this election and of holding the balance of power in a possible 'hung Parliament' scenario ('hung Parliament': a Parliament where no party holds the overall majority of seats). Despite some dodgy policies.
All this against a backdrop of one of the most glorious springtimes I can ever remember. The cottage gardens and the enfolding countryside look radiant. The blackthorn blossom has never looked whiter, the magnolia flowers never creamier, the tulips never redder, the new foliage never softer or greener. And yet, as one gets older, doesn't every springtime seem more glorious than the one before? I think it's a lot to do with age. As children we're barely conscious of time. We're absorbed in the serious play of our lives, naturally focused on each lived-in moment. The seasons seem almost stationary. My friends and I used to run through the woods and fields like heathens, cycling the country tracks and lanes, making dens and camps, having mock-serious fights and battles in the spirit of Bevis and Co in Richard Jefferies' immortal, eponymous book. We were glowing in 'the glory and the freshness of a dream'.
Gradually, because of the stress and pressure of adult life - jobs, families, motorways, deadlines - we stop living in the unconscious present and start living by our diaries. Suddenly we find our real lives, our important soul-lives, have drifted away, lost somewhere between out latest marriage and the Watford Gap Motorway Service Station. But, maybe around our late 40s or early 50s, we realise, if we're lucky, that it's not actually too late to recapture some of that early joy and spontaneity, that moment-by-moment freshness.
I think it's reflections like these, such recollections from a standpoint of maturity, which cause us to count our blessings, to be acutely aware that time is precious, and life even more so, and to appreciate the beauties of the spring, a spring that becomes more and more glorious each year.
Whither is fled the visionary gleam? / Where is it now, the glory and the dream? WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Ode