The main news last week was not the utterly vacuous Queen’s Speech in which the increasingly doddery HM read out some words that someone else had written on the few subjects on which the coalition parties still agree.
No. The media led, and in some instances still leads, on the retirement of a football manager.
Not any old football manager, but arguably the greatest one there ever was, Sir Alex Ferguson.
The obituaries for a man who looks far from dead to me are still being played out in the media and there is a souvenir pull out in my newspaper. (Who reads and keeps these things?)
To me, the main feeling over Lord Ferg’s retirement is a reminder that nothing is permanent because for a long time I thought lots of things were permanent.
For years, I assumed my children would be forever young, needing to be waited on hand and foot (that’s still partly true, actually) and generally cajoled through life courtesy of the wisdom I had acquired over a lifetime. Some chance.
Childhood was over all to quickly and now when I see a young baby or a toddler, I think to myself, and sometimes say to the parents, enjoy these days while you can. They soon grow up. At least they’re still there, if not children anymore.
I thought my mother would be there forever, even when her health, and that of my stepfather, declined and they went into care.
I’d visit her every week, sometimes more often. Now and then, a health blip would cause concern, make them that bit weaker, but they’d recover, right?
But in 1999, my mother didn’t recover as an almighty heart attack proved too much for her now spindly and vulnerable frame and suddenly a phone call told me she was gone.
Well, hang on: your mother is there forever. But how she isn’t. How is that fair?
My stepfather struggled on, ravaged by Parkinsons, but I would at least be able to spend some time with him and that would last, well, forever. But one day, the home called me. He was dying and I needed to get there quick.
So I drove there and was with him as he drew his final breath, an incredibly powerful experience than I almost bottled out of feeling, tempted as I was to go into the next room.
But nothing happened. His breathing got slower, shallower and then just stopped, along with his heart.
So what was happening to all this permanence, the people who would always be around?
My father, with whom I had a difficult relationship, was still going strong, living now in Canada.
I visited him for his 75th birthday in 2004 and we became closer and again for his 80th where we became closer still.
Now he was the picture of good and robust health. He’d had his scares along the way but at least he, the salty dog of the sea, would be there for me in the years prior to my own dotage?
And then, in 2011, after a short illness, he took his leave of this world and within a few days I found myself on board an aircraft to Canada to speak at the celebration of his life.
Permanence lay shattered as all the older members of my close family had now gone and I had become the senior member of the family. How did that happen?
I took for granted the presence of my family for too long.
Yes, I loved them and valued them but I don’t think I took account of the possibility that one day it would just be me and the rest of us who were left behind.
I could, I suppose, have prolonged the feeling of permanence, of living forever, by reading the good book (if you can call a book like the bible ‘the good book’ given all it’s murder, mayhem and bloodshed) and convinced myself I would survive my own death and meet again the my family members who, I assume, would magically turn up in heaven after their cremation.
But rather than seek false hope based on faith (believe without evidence), wasn’t it better to accept the inevitable, that God wasn’t really here and that nothing lasts forever?
Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t going to live forever and he can’t walk on water either (not that you’d know that from listening to the football phone-ins).
He wasn’t going to lead Manchester United into eternity, which at least gives a different sort of hope for the rest of us who don’t support them.
Like many people, I feel the same as I did 20 years ago, apart from the increasingly whitening hair and aching bones and joints – oh, and the hangovers that seem to last so much longer – and, well that will do for now. Maybe I am feeling my age after all and, contrary to the belief of my youth, I’m not immortal.
Sir Alex retiring is a useful reminder that you’d best do the things you want to do and can afford to do because, sadly to Noel Gallagher’s desperate plea that he wants to “live forever” the bad news is that none of us will.
On that happy note…