PC 83 Godsons et al

You may have missed the fact that at the end of October I finished another decade ….. and started another ….. for such is the incessant nature of life. Until one dies, of course! Then it stops; the only certainty after birth!

Despite the fact I am not really a true believer in long term planning, I do recognize that in order to do anything, one has to make an effort, bring all the relevant issues into the mixing bowl, give it a good stir and …… make something. Decades need celebrating, don’t they? More than an ordinary run-of-the-mill birthday? I’ve scribbled before how lucky we are here in Western Europe in the C21st – with life expectancy well into the late 70s. It was not always so. Reading ‘Sextant’ by David Barrie, a wonderful book about a nautical instrument, and no I haven’t gone gaga, it truly is, I was struck by the fact that so many of the surveyors who mapped our oceans died quite young: comte de La Perouse disappeared aged 41, Matthew Flinders died at 40 as did his fellow navigator George Bass, as did George Vancouver who surveyed the western seaboard of Canada. James Cook made 60 and William Bligh 63; and here am I celebrating 70, my only major navigation racing a yacht from Tenerife to Bermuda!

Do you go away and spend a lot of money/a little on a very intimate personal celebration ……. or do you get all your chums together and have a good old-fashioned party?  Many years ago my lovely daughter asked if she could have a 21st party when she was at university in Cardiff. “How many people were you thinking of?” I asked, thinking not of her popularity but of my pocket. “Oh! About 300 and something – just my closest friends.” Before I went completely puce in the face she said she had found somewhere where they would do it for £1.75 a head or some such. She went ahead; it was a huge success but I often wonder how many of those ‘closest friends’ she is still in touch with? Friendships can be extremely transient! So a party at the Grand Hotel in Brighton for 100? I didn’t think so! But I like the intimacy of small groups ….. so we ended up with two dinner parties for 12, a Champagne & Cake get together for about 30 ……. and then the ‘Godsons’ dinner’.

Not sure how many God children you have, if any? I seem to have collected four that I am in touch with, still in touch with their parents, been to three of the weddings ….. that sort of thing, and one that I had completely lost contact with. How does that happen? So six months ago I looked for the lost soul, and invited all five and their other halves to dinner here in Hove. Even at six months’ notice we had to move the date to the weekend after my birthday, such is the busy lives they live.

We arrived at The Little Fish Market after bubbles here and had a really lovely meal. I had wondered whether I should say something after the obligatory rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ had rung out. Was it expected of ‘The Godfather’? On the afternoon of the dinner  I decided I needed to … but what? …. a recap of my life so far?….. but they probably knew all that and anyway it’s dull. A comment on their success in life, the number of children, the pressure to get married/divorced/change careers?

And what was expected of a Godparent, anyway? Aren’t we meant to serve as role models, demonstrating kindness, honesty, integrity, dedication to one’s family, and responsibility, and to provide spiritual guidance? No sure how much of that I had done, but two words had came to mind – ‘plan’ and ‘moral guidance’; well, three actually! We all think we need a plan. Ok! School ….. university …. in the old days it was deemed the right thing to do to stay with one company – something to do with loyalty and duty and all that stuff which was quite admirable but potentially stifling. Do you know that in Europe most people have three careers and five jobs within each career? That’s what actually happens.  .. but I had a plan! ….. I was on track! ….. OK along came a recession I hadn’t planned for …..there was a change of family circumstance I hadn’t dreamed of…..  so the plan goes by the board and you react to circumstance. How flexible one can be has more of a bearing on one’s success in life than having a plan.

I hope I was open to give advice and guidance, but with a moral twist? Some would argue that my own life is not exactly a great example of a moral life, but hey when the parents chose me maybe I was full of promise? I would like to think my life has been defined by certain values, a huge self-belief, and an understanding that if you want to do something, do it yourself. And when anyone wants to listen that’s what they get!

So after the pudding, I blew out a candle on another birthday cake, a rather ragged ‘Happy Birthday’ followed and I portioned out eleven pieces. The men around the table were not, apart from my son-in-law, family; just sons of friends from the 1970s. How lovely to be able to bring them all together at least once in their lives …… and in mine.


Richard 12th November 2016



One thought on “PC 83 Godsons et al

  1. Thank you Richard for a wonderful evening at The Little Fish Market. Great fun to link up with fellow godsons. While we share the same godfather it was fascinating to hear about the varied lives the other godsons were leading.I look forward to your 80th – our shout!


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