Absence of Conscience

It wish this would happen to a Government minister, rather an a Tory frontbench spokesman. Then something might happen, if it isn’t just completely too late. From the Daily Telegraph:

An MP was stoned by a gang of youths after challenging their behaviour.

Tobias Ellwood spotted the group of 10 teenagers climbing into an elderly woman’s garden and using it as a lavatory.

When he stopped his car and confronted them they responded by hurling missiles at him and delivered a torrent of abuse.

Mr Ellwood, 40, a 6ft 3in ex-soldier, said he was deliberately polite as he asked the youths to leave the garden.

But when he threatened to call the police, four or five of the gang started hurling stones, some of which hit him and his car.

He called the police and officers searched the area but the youths had fled.

The Tory MP, who is shadow minister for tourism, had been driving past a housing estate in his Bournemouth constituency at midnight when he saw the youths getting off a bus.

They were aged between 15 and 17 and had been drinking. The most aggressive person in the group was a girl, he said. “They had no understanding of right and wrong,” he added.

“They couldn’t comprehend why a member of the public should challenge them. It was an eye-opening experience.”

Despite his experience Mr Ellwood said: “I would urge people to confront youths who act in this anti-social way.”

Forever Young

The difference between adults and children is that children want to grow up and adults wish they didn’t have to.

I mentioned earlier in the week that I might have further reflection on Peter Pan. Kids love Peter Pan because of all the adventures. They want to fly and fight pirates. Adults just wish they could stay forever young.

I think that’s part of the reason I like to listen to Taylor Swift. Her music, with themes of innocent love and summers past, is nostalgic. It’s a false nostalgia, but sentimental nonetheless. I never had those idealised relationships or breakups – just wished I had. It’s not that I now wish that I had, but rather that I wished it back then. So maybe I’m nostalgic about how I wish I could have been nostalgic. And then there’s the whole wishing I could have been as talented and successful at that age, when I was starting to write music and wanted to be a professional musician but had none of the talent or connections. That’s a lot of layers, but it still gets to the same place.

So part of it is the desire to re-live what was and what could have been, or even what never could have been but would have been really great. But Peter Pan is also about avoiding the consequences of mortality. It’s not just that he stays a boy – he never dies.

Regardless of how old I get or how old I feel, I never think I’m old. It doesn’t seem like I’m 26 years away from my three score and ten. When I dream, I’m not a fat one-legged almost 44-year-old. No, somehow in my mind I’m still in my 20s. I’m grown, but just. Until I remember the truth, I still feel like I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. When I think of the truth, and think of how little I’ve done with the time I’ve been here, it’s just a little depressing

I think about death constantly, but I don’t want to go there. I want to go to heaven, but I don’t want to die. With every season of the year that passes, I think about how I have one less to experience ever again. And it’s not like 70 years is a guarantee. Northern Illinois University yesterday is evidence of that. Four years ago, my own brother died at 34.

Sadly, nostalgia is ethereal and mortality unavoidable. The only Neverland is eternity. There is only one way to be forever young, and that is to (hopefully grow old and) die. My favourite Psalm is the antithesis of Peter Pan, perhaps because my desire for a life like the latter brings into clear focus my need for the former. Moses, as recorded in Psalm 90 (in the LXX it is Psalm 89) says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”