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Self Portrait

October 1986, no. 85

Self Portrait

October 1986, no. 85

Imagine me, myself, ten years on, a survivor of what is amusingly called ‘retirement’, though it will have been a matter of movement into rather than out of work. Let me, in short, give the four-day forecast; no weatherman will venture on the fifth, even to enforce the kind of superstition I am practising in these lines. Let us say the verbal magic works, and I reach seventy. What can I say now by way of analysing the character which I now confront in the time scale of then, across the years of future toil? Let me speak to that self in tones of restrained intimacy; restrained, because he frightens me a little.

You’re still timid, I see, watching the neighbours, liking to know who everyone is, always knowing something (though not enough) of who is related to whom, sharpening yourself up a couple of times a week with a bit of gossip – How about that! To use gossip as a setting-up exercise for your spiritual regimen. Pretending to be cautious, but saying whatever comes up first – a quick tongue, the curse of all Celts – so that people think you are malicious, and occasionally praise you for it. And you and I both know you’d never do an ounce of harm to any of the bastards.

'Self Portrait' by Vincent Buckley

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