Forever Young in Grahamstown

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Tuesday, 28th June 2016

In South Africa, June is Youth month and Grahamstown resonates in accordance with the national theme. Being a distinguished educational centre is one of the glorious hallmarks of our quaint and interesting little city. It is life enhancing to live in a town abounding with younglings. Our youth are not only the future: they are very much present in the present in this neck of the woods. The abundance of youthful energy undoubtedly accounts for the happy atmosphere for which Grahamstown is renowned. I cannot help but wax lyrical about this matter. The plethora of young people is my favourite characteristic of our charming home town and I am unapologetically passionate about young folk, their issues and their concerns.   

This does not entail nurturing illusions about youngsters. It is impossible to spend forty years attempting to educate adolescents and young adults without being aware of their follies. However I have yet to meet someone young whom I do not like or find interesting. Perhaps it will happen before my ashes are scattered, but it is highly unlikely. The joy derived from engaging with those in their salad days has been too delightful and rewarding for the last sixty years.

Recently I invited two friends for dinner. Two bright and beautiful young graduates who are very good company. Our conversation was nothing if not animated. Much about which we spoke was serious, even depressing, but our discussions were punctuated with gales of laughter. It ended up being a late night during which, naturally, we sorted out the problems of the planet. It is amazing how simple it is to do this when aided by good food and fine wine, would one not agree?

Fond farewells were exchanged and as I tidied up my home, I reflected on what a rejuvenating, stimulating evening it had been. One during which I had learned so much. The three of us covered just about everything in contemporary life. Donald Trump was annihilated timeously. We were in horror that the United States could come up with such a nightmare, after having produced Miles Davies, Jimi Hendrix, William Faulkner…. just for starters. All that unfortunate man has achieved is making piles of money which is the least one expects from a Caucasian American male. We are not blinded by the light of his perspicacity. Besides, as Thandi remarked, we have nothing to say to someone who likens trophy hunting to a game of golf. When I last looked back, golf was not a blood sport and there are no dead caddies. Heaven forbid that the narcissistic ignoramus ends up in the White House.

The young ladies had asked me if I ever wanted to go be young again. The answer was “No”. Not because I did not enjoy being young. It was awesome. However, in Frontier Country, our youth keep us young at heart. Thank you, dear ones. As Dylan chimed,  “ ...May your song always be sung/May you be forever young ...” 

KJ Guteridge   

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