The Dangerous Lure of Nostalgia

One of the biggest curses that can blight our lives is when we seek the blanket of comfort that is nostalgia. We crave for the ‘good old days’ and by doing so we avoid thinking about the future. It is easy to find safety and reassurance in the past. The emotional high it gives us after our memories have sanitised what actually happened and got rid of the bad bits.

Nostalgia is like a drug and you can see the damage that comes with the widespread addiction to it. We look back to mythical times when things were wonderful. ‘Make America Great Again’ and Brexit are both examples of this. And if we choose to live in a mythical past then we cannot move forward onto what is to come and how we can make the best of that.

I always say that life is lived forward but understood backwards. And we should certainly seek to learn from the past. Not least to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes in the future. But the past is gone and the present doesn’t really exist – as soon as we think about it, it is the past. We really only have the future and that is what we should focus on.

I see how nostalgia infects so many aspects of my own life. And it’s fine to have nice memories. But it is an insidious evil that we constantly need to be aware of and ensure it does not stop us going forward.

Light show at the Jubilee concert

Mum: I wish I could do more to ease her discomfort

A quiet week with no medical visits. Amazing how not long ago we were backwards and forwards to the hospital at least once every week. Pretty certain that situation could return very rapidly so I appreciate things as they are.

Lots of time watching TV together. Though mum is often in pain and finds the best thing she can do is go to bed to rest and be warm. I wish I could do much more to help her deal with the pain she is feeling. Also no general trips out. We had planned a trip to the local shops on Friday but the rain showers put mum off.

Dave and the decorating

Meanwhile, Dave has been getting on with the decorating of his bedroom. I gave him some help in the final furlong as his enthusiasm started to wane. The room definitely looks more interesting now and will look better with the new carpet coming next week. New curtains will finish everything off.

We’ve started to move some stuff back particularly re-colonising the bookshelves and returning certain pictures to the walls. But we’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to slim back on stuff. So I’ve identified certain of my books stored at his place that I’m getting rid of and Dave is going to let some pictures go. We had a nice trip to the charity shops on Sunday with some donations.

A great meal with Daisy

I am trying to meet up with a friend at least once every week. Last week, I met with my old mate David (aka Daisy) who I have known for about 30 years covering ups and downs in both of our lives. We met at my current favourite bistro and lamented the decline of cheap eating places in London. But our conversation wasn’t just wallowing in nostalgia. We both have to think how to make the most of our futures and it was good to mull over this together.

“Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.” 

Marcus Tillius Cicero

Gym (+ models) but no swim

I love going to the gym. Not because I’m nostalgic for an amazing body – that never existed. Rather because it makes me feel good and it is ensuring I can be healthy as I get older; so I am able to enjoy the process of ageing as much as possible.

Managed to get to the gym on Mon, Wed, and Fri morning which is the perfect pattern for me. A bit of excitement on Friday with a group of models at my gym / sauna for a photo-shoot. Classic muscle-men that so many gay men like. But, TBH, they didn’t do that much for me – I prefer more normal looking men.

37 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £15 per session.

Had booked to go swimming on Thursday afternoon. But for some mystery reason, the pool was closed for the week and my session was cancelled. Hopefully back to normal next week.

dumbells in the gym

Health: HIV and dental 6 month check-ups

Had the 6 monthly check-in with my HIV hospital consultant which was fine. The meds keep me alive by ensuring the viral load remains undetectable. And other allied health issues (like my prostate and potential diabetes) are relegated to be dealt with by my GP – which does assume you can get an appointment to see them.

And also my routine 6 month dental check. I always think ignoring your teeth never works in the long term. The problem is the cost but at only £27 for a check-up it’s a good investment. I can’t feel any problems with my teeth and the dentist agreed though we are both aware that I have one ‘dodgy’ tooth we need to keep a close eye on.

nice teeth smile

Weight: Nice and steady

A loss of half a pound reinforces the feeling that I am nicely treading water comfortably below the 13 stone mark. Didn’t feel like I had any real binge days which is good. I’m happy though, obviously, I would be happier if I lost a bit more.

‘Prophet’ by Helen MacDonald and Sin Blache

A book that partly encapsulates my belief in the negative power of nostalgia. It’s a sci-fi novel in a contemporary setting. Indeed, it reminds me enormously of ‘The X Files’ which I used to adore (great for its time but really lost it the longer it went on, ‘disappearing up its own arse’). The partnership of Rao and Rubenstein investigates strange occurrences.

Two men with very different backgrounds and outlooks but who become increasingly emotionally connected as their case develops. They are investigating a substance that makes people create something from their past that is nostalgically vital to them. And then they become obsessed with that object to the point of complete fixation and withdrawal from normal life.

But the substance is evolving and changing. Plus we find out who is behind the creation of this substance and why. It’s all classic conspiracy theory which seems to be so prevalent these days. My belief is it’s more often cock-up rather than conspiracy. And the ending of the book is certainly not what I was expecting.

Global disaster and nobody cares

More news about the disastrous global heating that is happening around us:

  • Roaring temperatures in Africa here
  • Floods in Dubai (some might say it’s only fair that the main producers of fossil fuels should share the suffering caused by climate change) here
  • Coral bleached and dead due to rising ocean temperatures here

And still the majority of people carry on obliviously living the lives they have always lived not being willing to change anything that might help stop the environmental crisis. The despair I expressed in my previous blog here continues to resonate with me.

Very hot weather

Nostalgia drives consumption

My hoarding that I have become aware of and am trying to tackle was caused, in part, by nostalgia. My love of past sci-fi and gay experiences fuelled it so much. Witness my collection of gay retro books and magazines plus memorabilia around Dr Who, Blake’s Seven, Star Trek, etc.

How many of us buy things to create the world that we think existed; where we can find comfort and solace from the world around us? Coming to terms with my hoarding and offloading stuff is part of my personal way of tackling the nostalgia fix that I used to crave.

Feeling swamped

The opposite of nostalgia

It feels to me that my modern love of learning languages is anti-nostalgia. I was crap at languages at school and now it feels like I’m trying to make up for lost time. Indeed, if I had my time again then the two things I would make sure I did would be to speak another language fluently and learn to play a musical instrument. Doing new things and having new experiences really is the best way to suffocate nostalgia.

Leighton House

I was walking past here on Monday afternoon and I decided to pop in. I’ve been meaning to go for ages and it was free with my National Art Pass. An interesting artist’s house though not massive and the normal entrance fee is quite high. Lord Leighton himself is an interesting person not least because he never married… (you can read more about him here). Much of the art that was dispersed from the house and has been re-obtained or copies put in their place. And the interior is surreal in part particularly the famous Arab Hall.

However, it is the epitome of Victorian culture (albeit with a Bohemian twist) and it includes the worst aspects of that – heavy, cluttered, sentimental. I can’t look at the wealthy Victorians and think how their success was built on the backs of ordinary people in Britain living in misery and people across the world exploited for the glory of the British Empire. Indeed, Leighton was part of the Holland Park Circle who didn’t seem to stand for much apart from getting rich.

QPR: Almost safe

Supporting any sport club has an element of nostalgia. All clubs have periods of success and failure. And when we are in the latter so we hark back to the former periods. The reason I support QPR is mainly because they were the local club when I was a kid and they were very successful. Basically in a relatively short time coming from nowhere to be one of the leading London soccer clubs.

Now it’s all about can we stay in what was once Division 2 or will we fall into what was once Division 3? An important 1-0 win over Preston means with just two games till the end of the season we should be safe but could still all go down to the last day. One of my best mates is watching things closely as if we get relegated then we will be playing his newly promoted team Mansfield next season.

QPR

The Week Ahead

  • Aim is to get in my usual 3 gym sessions and at least one swim
  • Spending time with mum – I’m always optimistic that we can go out if the weather holds up. Dave will be doing some stuff with our friend Patrick as well as waiting in to get new carpet laid at his flat on Friday.
  • I’ve started reading the widely praised ‘Close to Home’ by Michael Magee. And I plan to start the next book for the Velvet Page Book Club, ‘Swan Song’ by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
  • Looking forward to a catch-up lunch with Phyllis on Monday
  • Next weekend, me and Dave are off up North to visit his mum

And Finally…

Our Future is Greater than our Past

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