Future Past

I turned on my laptop a couple of days ago and got an opening message: ‘preparing your desktop’. Unless I had a new machine, or was using it for the first time, this was not good news. My ‘new’ desktop had none of my settings, none of my files. It had recognised my name, and that I was an account administrator, but not that I had any files, years of work, photographs, contacts, correspondence.

I flipped for a few minutes.  I knew I had back-ups, but things can go wrong. The thought of losing years of my ‘stuff’ was upsetting, but oddly liberating. I’d have to start over with everything. Two versions of my future as a writer presented themselves to me. I could start fresh, or I could retrieve my years of stuff…

After a few minutes of panic I did a system restore on my machine. The files were there, but had not been visible to the new desktop.  I was back… However, I liked the feeling of freedom of the new start. I decided that I should split myself in two. The new writer and the one with a backlist of all kinds of writing – finished and unfinished.  I put some on an on-line storage facility for reassurance. It was a bit like unpacking the attic. There is a lot of inertia in an attic load of old writing. I left the very old material  to languish. Had it been a paper archive it would have been recycled years ago. Computers encourage hoarding.

I take it as a nudge towards some new thinking.

I haven’t posted a poem for a while, and will include one that featured on the new Writing Cumbria website last year.


The children are ahead, pretending to be adults

walking and talking fast.

We are dressed like old people.

Even our stooped shoulders look real.

As does the grey hair, the varicose veins.

And in the authentic old-ladyish comfortable heels,

I struggle to keep up.

In a realistic looking lecture room,

using pretty coloured-in diagrams,

they present to us the future.

It is a good game for a while.

Afterwards, there are ‘canapés’

on paper plates and we are surprised

when they serve us real wine,

but, of course, it is in plastic cups.

Today, we have learned the price of coffee

in the many cafés we already know about

although it seems remarkably expensive to us.

They have shown us our favourite haunts;

the union bar, and that quiet little restaurant

on the corner – where we dated a lifetime ago.

Somehow it has become

a bustling Carluccio’s.

All of it is ours,

but our tour ends here.

The city looks cleaner than it should;

the air brighter and noisier

as if life was just beginning.


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