When I need to find my way around in this complicated world my navigation system, which has always served me well, consists of a collection of tattered maps and street guides, some of them dating back to the 1960s, and a small pocket compass that points randomly in all directions.
In the midst of the endless summer we finally have the time to spend doing the things we really love. Or at least we have the time if nobody steals it from us. The theft of time has become almost as much of an epidemic as the theft of smart phones. I don’t have a smart phone, so that’s not something I need to worry about. But I do have a small and diminishing amount of time, which I would rather not lose, and the world seems full of people who want to snatch it away.
My father and uncles all loved a good joke, or even a bad one. But I can’t tell jokes, or even remember them, which has been a lifelong source of frustration. A friend of mine who was a born raconteur could keep a whole dinner table in an uproar of laughter for hours with his stories, and I would sit there thinking I must remember that one, I must remember that one. Now I can’t remember any of them, except for a few that are too politically incorrect to repeat.
Today is Bastille Day in France, a holiday that commemorates the ambiguous legacy of July 14th 1789. This was the date when the people of Paris – or some of them - stormed the prison called La Bastille, and released a rather disappointing total of seven political prisoners. This rebellion led directly to the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Authoritarian regimes everywhere have learned from these unfortunate events to keep their political prisoners in remote and inaccessible places.
It’s summer time and, at least according to George Gershwin, the living will be easy. Newspapers and magazines are full of advice about how we are expected to dress and behave for the next eight weeks. It’s not actually going to be easy. How can we possibly live up to the demands of summer? One particular advertisement I saw in a color magazine said it all.