I always wanted a 6′ long slide rule … well not really! When closed its overall length was probably no more than 8″ but the scale around the cylinder would have been about 6′ long if it were to have been unwound and that is what gave it it’s accuracy. Needless-to-say, I never had one … and thereby hangs a tale. But before that, let me digress.
When I was young and the testosterone kicked in, like many adolescent males, I thought that I was invincible and never shied away from taking risks. I still carry one or two of the scars from that time although nothing really serious happened to me and the scars are small. I didn’t take life really seriously until the birth of my own children …
When my first daughter was born I suddenly realised how precious life was and I became aware of the fragility of the thread by which we are all suspended … that essence, which is life itself, is so delicate and so easily lost. My own life was changed dramatically by this realisation and I grew up overnight but, hopefully, I never lost my sense of fun and adventure … I just did things more safely and my time working in the chemical industry reinforced this attitude.
However, yesterday I heard that one of my school pals had died: we had spent many happy hours together in our youth. Many will have lost friends at much earlier ages than this, and I feel for you but this is my first close friend to pass that way and I am saddened by that thought.
He lived at the top of our street and he was the same age as me: we were in the same class at school, and suddenly … I am very aware of my own mortality. Death is not something that I fear but I know that life cannot go on for ever and it is definitely for the living … SO LIVE IT! Don’t wait for those regrets to kick in when you are 80 – “if only I had […] when I still had the energy/capability/passion” – live your life as though todays going to be your last … one day it just may be!
So, what can I say about my old mate David? When we went off to university we went our own ways but whilst we were at school he was a serious Beatles fan and he usually had their latest singles or albums before we had realised that they had been released. He once bought a slot racing car kit by mail from the States which, once built, had a scale speed of around 600 mph: it was okay on the straights but impossible to steer around bends so we used to drag race it and catch it in a cushion at the end of the track – we didn’t have a parachute and there was no other way to stop it! He rode a Honda 50 motorbike which he once fell off when it backfired whilst he was kick-starting it. We had some great times and I have some wonderful memories and did I mention … he was brilliant at physics and he had a 6′ slide rule …
God bless you David and goodnight.