To tell you how ancient I am, I can remember something most of my Aussie readers – still the majority – would never have heard nor even heard of : “6 o’clock closing”. I never frequented pubs, of course : I was just a kid born pre-World War Two, and I left home at sweet sixteen. Franciscan novices and seminarians were rarely seen downing a schooner at the local. (We made up for it after Ordination, but only in the “rec room”, which was always amply stocked with Tooheys, Tooths and VB (not Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme but Victoria Bitter in the bottle) as well as a wide choice of the hard stuff.)
Pretty soon my time will be up. Booze-time but also life-time. Just about everyone I know croaks in his eighties or well before. At 79.25 years of age, I’m on the short list and could go any time. It’s all been said before, not only in literature but in this Blog, destined like its humble author for posthumous glory. I won’t be around to basque in the tributes that will fill newspapers here in South-West France and the French capital, as my adopted countrymen mourn the loss of one of the world’s greatest writers, nor to register the outpourings of grief that will fill the international press and the internet. People all over the planet will crack up as they quote their favorite post from a Blog that will finally have reached “The End”.
Even if, in a far more likely scenario, no one notices my demise, and few apart from family and close friends (all two of them) give a ratz, I won’t have a clue either way. “Gone”, “passed away”, “breathed his last”, “kicked the bucket”, “croaked” and even “died” will mark “Finis” to what will have been (it ain’t over yet) a life that has been filled with luck, happiness and fulfillment. The last lap may contain some unpleasant surprises, or I might just keel over and snuff it before you can say, or call, 911 or, in France, 15.
No need to make a fuss about it. I just hope that the Winter of my years is brief and that their Autumn, which I am so much enjoying, longer than that of many of my mates. Don’t even think of crying, or worse, praying. Frank spent more than half his life ridiculing religion. Don’t go and spoil it it all by saying something stupid like “May he rest in peace”. Rest assured that I won’t be feeling a thing, even less than the boozers whose time was up at 6:00 pm. That was Down Under. And that’s where I’ll be, if anyone is looking for me, six feet down under. Or better, in Utopia, “Nowhere”, having been cremated to dust, blowin’ in the wind.
I’m ready when you are, Mr Reaper. No need to be so grim about it. Time’s up, that’s all !