Starting Over

The ability to start over, forgive (oneself and/or others) and move on: isn’t this at the heart of personal success, as well as the ongoing success/prosperity of nations?

An aside in Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, which I’ve just begun and is every bit as engrossing and electrifyingly well written as its predecessor, Wolf Hall, suddenly brought this to my mind. Cromwell, he, reflecting:

 A generation on, lapses must be forgiven, reputations remade, otherwise England cannot go forward, she will keep spiralling backwards into the dirty past.

Forget the past and you cannot learn from it, live in the past and you stagnate. Or, in terms of nationhood, the murderous stupidity of Pol Pot’s year zero or the disastrous consequences of the Kanun, the Law of Lek (Book 10, ch. 3) and the blood feud that can engulf families (even blight whole districts) for generations. This is the subject of Ismail Kadare’s excellent novel Broken Spring.

He not busy being born is busy dyin’ as Bob Dylan once wrote: well, it’s alright Ma, (I’m only bleeding). By coincidence, while writing this, the latest email from Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity) just dropped into my inbox, on ‘Destiny, Influence, and the Impossibility of Being Self-Taught, which ends:

The point is that we all learn from one another every day. You can learn to improve yourself, or to advance in a discipline. You can also pass on your knowledge and influence to others…

Things that seem small at first will come along and affect the remainder of our lives. Is it due to fate, chance, or destiny?

Sometimes it’s hard to say for sure. And does it really matter? Either way, lives are changed, and the next step is up to you.

Lean as a gnawed bone

and as cold as an axe head.’

Thus the description of the Duke of Norfolk in Wolf Hall, which is every bit as good, and exhilarating to read, as the reviews say it is, and the beginning of which is an object lesson in how to start a piece of writing in the middle of the action.

The description sparks the image of ‘lean’ Cassio in Julius Caesar, but also … of poor old Posh (of & Becks) who never manages to look as if she’s enjoying anything. Quite the opposite of Ms Dahl, if the tv ads for her upcoming cookery show are anything to go by. Move over Nigella, there’s a new star in the kitchen.

[later.. ] But of course Posh is Anne ‘glancing around with her restless black eyes, eating nothing, missing nothing, tugging at the pearls around her little neck.’