Not seventeen

Jan 12th, 2008 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Alpbach, Saturday 12th January

It’s nice here. “Far from what you were reared to”, as they would say back in Dublin.

Dining roomThe dining room is perfect, the linen crisp, the glasses polished, the cutlery sparkling, the waiters gracious.

It is sitting in the dining room that the doubt arises. Swirling red wine around in the bottom of a large glass, the past comes back.

An awkward kid who stumbled over his words and who had no friends looks forward from the unhappiness of being seventeen years of age. Without even confidence to talk to anyone in the village, he spends hours in his room reading adventure novels and standing staring out of the window- looking out at a landscape which undulates to Glastonbury Tor and then to the Mendips beyond. The landscape is caught up with its own business, with the farming year, with the passing seasons; indifferent to an onlooker.

Radio 1 fills the air, the Top 40 singles, the upbeat DJs, the stories of people whose lives seem full of laughter. At seventeen he had never been to a disco, let alone knew how to be impressive like the people on the programmes.

One day he would be a journalist, write for a big paper, but that day never came.

The strains of Janis Ian’s At Seventeen come to mind,

To those of us who knew the pain
of valentines that never came
and those whose names were never called
when choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today

Maybe the past never lets us go, but, hey, seventeen year old, it didn’t turn out so bad. Prost!

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  1. I hope you don’t spend as much time as I did in the alps, sitting on my bottom in the snow uinable to get up from the laughter!


  2. Have a great time Ian you deserve it.Live the luxury . Those lines about the kid in Somerset blew me away, I wish we had stayed in touch as teenagers.
    If you cant get on with the skis you could always try to get hold of one of those machines that Max Croot races!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. And I bet, at seventeen, you never imagined you’d be where you are today either. Have fun in the snow! 😎

  4. Ian was just thinking you should tell grannymar the Jethro story which caused you to fall over on one of you previous skiing trips. Les is probably the only other person who knows who Jethro is but it’s a good story. Enjoy the holiday and see you in three weeks.

  5. Ahh What Appened wuz, Me ‘n’ Denzil Penworvy wuz down the pub tuther night(do it in a Cornish accent)……………………..The rest is unprintable here!!!Enjoy the skiing , don’t swirl that wine too much drink up. Cheers Les

  6. I envy you the cold Ian but not the snow . . .have a great trip. Well not literally . .you know what I mean . . enjoy!

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