Cheques and Mortality 3

Not much to report today, except that I am still recovering from a few days of hands-on parenting again, helping my son make the transition from New York. 23 year olds are a mass of contradictions: they want your help, they don’t want your help, they need you, they don’t need you. They want your advice; then, if you give them advice they don’t want to hear, they get annoyed with you. Two things they do always like: lifts ( i.e rides) and money.

So today will be a day of recovery & getting all those everyday pre-Christmas things done – like shopping and getting the house ready for guests. My dearest old friend, Michael, arrives today for 2 nights. On Saturday, Heather, my current ( and, I hope, future) inamorata, flies in from New York. I can’t wait to have her in my clutches again.

Lying in bed this morning, listening to R4, listening to a discussion about the proposed phasing out of cheques ( in 2018), made me think about time and morality. Working forward to 2018, I did the maths in my head as to how old I will be when that happens ( 67). I suppose because cheques are part of the world I grew up in – grandmothers wrote you cheques for your birthday; my mother paid her bills that way; learning to manage a cheque book is a rite de passage from adolescence into adulthood – the report struck a chord. Another bit of your world is going to be abolished/phased out, like LP records or ( now) even CD’s. Old people – of which I absolutely do not count myself as one – must feel like this all the time. But the only constant in life is that there is no constant. Change is at the core of life and evolution. As Bob Dylan said: he who’s not busy being born is busy dying. But the discussion about the death of the cheque made me think about my own mortality. By adding on, say, another 20 years, from the date they were saying cheques will be abolished ( 2018) – a date which seems just around the corner – I realised that assuming I have not already popped my clogs then I will almost certainly have died by the year 2040 ( allowing myself a generous life span of 87 years). That makes death seem awfully close – and life, very finite. Most of all it makes me determined to live as full a life of the senses and the mind as I have until now.

About sworrall

Writer with @Natgeo; author of The Poet and The Murderer; and the forthcoming Starcrossed: A Romeo And Juliet Story in Hitler's Paris (2022)

3 thoughts on “Cheques and Mortality

  • Ralph Lake

    Feel free to write me a cheque any time. Let’s keep the tradition going.

    Assuming I too will be granted a full 87, I will get there 3 years before you (I’ll send you detailed report of my last minutes and perhaps a cheque for old time’s sake)

    “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Dalian as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Dalian is a moveable feast.”

  • sworrall Post author

    Thanks, Ralph – but you didn’t answer the salient question: were you a teacher ( with me) at the Dalian Foreign Language Institute in 1983-4 ?

  • Ralph Lake


    I was. They were great times and the feelings intense. We had a wonderful little world of our own in a walled enclave called The Nanshan Bin’guan until they moved us (kicking and screaming) to the Foreign Experts Building on campus. The move, though, did afford us the opportunity to throw parties to which students came eager to experience the freedom we represented, One student in particular was severely censured by the school authorities for taking part in our frivolities. We gave them tit for tat with a strike which we planned while walking on the slopes behind our old hotel.

    I mention these few details as proof. I have a stock of memories from that period to draw from if you need further evidence. We had a great time together. (One further item: You loved tennis (and still do I see). You and David Jenkins would sometimes play a game–but I forget where that was in the city.

    I looked for you on the web a few years back after The Poet and the Murderer came out (I enjoyed it thoroughly) but was unsuccessful. Send me an email–I’m taking up too much space here on your comments page.


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