2016 (aka The Year That Keeps On Killing) is not through with us yet…
The incomparable Rabbi Lionel Blue has just shuffled off this mortal coil.
That phrase comes from Hamlet’s famous “To be, or not to be” speech. The coil is the turmoil of life, the troubles. Lovely Rabbi Blue had plenty of those.
He was gay and he was Jewish, which gave him residency in two of the harshest ghettos of life. He painfully struggled on until: “I realised my problems might not be a judgement on me or my punishment; perhaps they were my opportunity.”
Thank Fred for that!
Fred is the name he gave to his God, to the chilled-out deity living in his head. Because he had Fred, we had Blue.
On Radio 4’s Thought for the Day he would tell us, his most diverse congregation, funny stories about life which would relate to Fred, but never claim that Fred had all the answers. When your day began with a bit of Blue, you felt you could tackle this mortal coil with a little more gusto.
Gusto: enjoyment and enthusiasm in doing something.
Gusto is what we want our kids to have, don’t we? Both of mine are a bit…lacking in that department. It seems I am only able to make humans who find things difficult.
Eldest has actual on-paper troubles, special needs which make her coil that bit more troublesome and spinny. Youngest is too young to be sure about, but to say he glides through life untroubled would mean we must be playing his favourite infuriating game of living in ‘opposite world.’
Because I am their mother, and pathologically anxious, I am in a permanent state of worry about them. Will they be happy? Will they always struggle? Will they one day realise their mother is a perfect arsehole of incompetence and send me all their therapy bills?
Because I am almost famous and now have a direct line to the BBC, a film crew came round yesterday afternoon in order to record my outstanding insights into how we watch telly in these internetty/broadbandy times.
Because my insights were not all that outstanding, the main protagonists in this ground-breaking three-minute film turned out to be: the kids.
I watched as eldest delivered a series of amusing, articulate, complete-sentence soundbites, each in just one take. Youngest, who is ‘too shy’ to utter a single word on stage in his school assembly, gave a lengthy and passionate monologue about the joys of YouTube.
When asked to pretend they were watching telly together, both delivered a De Niro-standard performance of realism, to the point where they pretend-fought over the remote control, resulting in youngest being smashed in the face and having a monster nosebleed.
Aaaaah, I was such a proud mummy!
Both of them are crap at lots of the things you need to be good at in order to #winatlife. But in that situation, in front of three strangers with a camera and lights, a situation which many people who are #winningatlife would find terrifyingly hard, they showed tremendous gusto, guts and gumption.
Perhaps, as Rabbi Blue says, their problems are actually opportunities. And that, as he also knew, their skills “can’t be learnt in lecture halls.”
I do hope that your journey through this mortal coil today affords you many moments of gustoishness. This classic Rabbi Blue joke may help:
Mrs Solomon rings up the Jewish newspaper and says: “I want to put in an obituary notice. Put in ‘Abie Solomon dead.'” The man says: “Mrs Solomon, it’s a little bit bare. You can have six words for the price of three.” She says: “Can I?” He says: “Yes.” “Ok,” she says. “Put in ‘Abie Solomon dead…Volkswagen for sale.'”
NB: our first appearance as The New Osbournes will be broadcast on Boxing Day during BBC Breakfast. My bit will last approximately three seconds…