Week 22: Chair’s Weekly Blog – Life’s Events…

‘Events, dear boy, events.’  This is a quotation ascribed to Harold MacMillan in the 1960s. Life is full of ‘incidents’ and the trick is to try and avoid turning them into ‘crises.’  Sometimes little ones pass quickly.  Others can linger and cause torment and have ramifications for years after.

Last week I abandoned my proposed weekly blog to announce that we were planning to host some hustings for the two constituencies for the forthcoming election. We’ve made some progress but there have been quite a few issues to manage. This isn’t something we have to do or have done before. We just thought it would be a useful thing to arrange given what we see as one of our roles in the community – especially if no-one else is doing this. We will make a final decision in the next week or so if we are to go ahead, depending on where we get to.

I admit it has stretched us at a time when some of our team here have been sick, busy on other things or away. I’m not going to comment on the decision to hold the election now or other things happening in America, tempting as that is – I think enough other commentators are talking about that – although as is often the case on these things the timing has been ironic.

I am currently doing a play (‘Handbagged’) on the politics of the 1980s and the relationship between the Queen and Mrs Thatcher as well as Reagan, who was US president at that time. I won’t promote the play here as it’s being performed well outside of Merton, but the current political backdrop has added a certain topicality to the production!

On top of that there have been a few small domestic crises to sort which have refocussed the attention of my (separated) wife and I, when we could have done without that extra distraction.  But such is the role of being a parent as well.

A couple of weeks ago I started talking about how we manage ourselves – picking up on previous themes of mental and physical health. We take on responsibility for several things during our lives. Not least our offspring (if we have them). In such cases that responsibility often continues in one form or another for the rest of our lives and sometimes reverses later on.

Aside from family commitments, we take on other responsibilities through our work, in our homes, in other roles we take on (like running a charity!) or with other social groups and friends that we adopt over time. It’s often said if you want something done ask a busy person.

I’m not sure I fully subscribe to that viewpoint, but I understand the sentiment. One of the main themes of Handbagged is about responsibility and the different roles of the individual and the state. I do believe we all have to take responsibility for ourselves but a lot of that is down to how we are brought up and what we are exposed to as we travel along life’s road.

I am also a great believer in looking out for and supporting one another as far as we are able but sometimes it’s a tricky balancing act. I’m often reminded of the routine that flight attendants demonstrate when showing people how to fit their breathing apparatus in the event that cabin pressure changes – you have to fit your own one first before being able to help someone else.

I was going to talk about diet and in particular alcohol consumption last week – and reference a personal story – before last week’s events. I think I will leave that again for now but suffice to say I have learnt some valuable lessons on taking a bit more personal responsibility for that.

However, that also extends to other matters too. We all must make choices every day in our lives. So going back to the central theme I started on this week, we will endeavour to organise these hustings but where other events intervene, personal matters may have to take priority!

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