30 Oct, 2021

Serious? Humorous?

Both in fact.

As It works its way through each day these days, a lot passes through the DP mind, as you can imagine.  Taking stock of the last 70+ years; looking around and evaluating how things are now; considering a limited future; relishing sights and sounds that in the past I took for granted.  That sort of thing.

The Bard’s Seven Ages of Man sprang to mind.  How does DP measure up?  Here it is in full, all 28 lines. Click if you wish.

Let me dissect it:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

Well, that’s certainly true. I often feel that I’ve busked my way though life, playing the part of teacher, volunteer, oilman, college head, diplomat, secret service gopher, senior exec, counsellor and more.  It’s been a big stage.

At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

We didn’t have a nurse, but presumably I did mewl in the midwife’s arms, and later definitely puked.  And not only as a child …..

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.

Not so sure I went unwillingly. I quite enjoyed my schooldays.

And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.

Ah yes, at different times Infatuated with three lovely women.  No ballads though, unless we include the joy of singing with them.

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth.

Difficult to match this.  In one sense I was for a time a quasi-Wing Commander when the Commandant of the Saudi institute gave us Brits badges in the hope that the cadets would understand our authority.  Mine was three broad stripes.  ‘The bubble reputation’. Splendid phrase!  So many fight desperately for kudos and recognition, boosting self-pride.  But all is vanity.  It’s a bubble.  Kipling’s If sums it up.  Click that too, if you like. 

And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.

This is me as counsellor, executive coach, management consultant, playing the wisdom and experience cards for all they were worth.  And a couple of times with beard, for gravity.

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.

I like the phrase ‘lean and slippered pantaloon’.  These days DP is certainly lean and slippered.  Not sure exactly what a pantaloon is but am happy to be called it.  I’m spectacled (can’t use contact lenses any more).  Trousers loose and flapping.  ‘Big manly voice’?   Well we know what’s happened to that!

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Here I am, with the last scene not too far off.  Yes, I buy into that.  Happily.

That was a nice canter through my 70+ years.  Enjoyable.  My Stage has allowed me to play so many parts in the drama, and it still does.  Now we’re entering the final Act, but how many Scenes it will have is anyone’s guess.

That’s all today from this spectacled, trouser-flapping, lean and slippered pantaloon.


  1. Well David, I’m not sure you should be happy to be called a pantaloon. The Shorter Oxford says meanings , apart from the trousers, are “1.a. The Venetian character in Italain comedy, represented as a lean and foolish old manwearing spectacles, pantaloons, and slippers.” and “2. Hence, a dotard, an old fool”.

    Not at all an appropriate description of yourself, methinks.

  2. You offer tempting peeks into your life post-KSA, David… You only have around three years or so on me but you always seemed so much more confident… I don’t expect you ever experienced ‘imposter syndrome’ but on my path through life I often felt this… for example, research years, sitting in the grand banking hall restored as the library of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, looking out the window over the old buildings of Stockholm Old Town… The Institute is in a modern building elsewhere in the city now, but what a memory and experience… me!! I confided my imposter feelings once to a visiting academic from Rutgers NJ and he suggested to me that if you didn’t feel this, you should worry!! I don’t think Shakespeare said anything about imposter syndrome!!!

  3. Is there a technical term for pantaloon envy? Asking for a friend.

  4. Love this personal canter, Dave!

    And then beginning to explore AYLI for the first time! I like the cannon / capon rhyme – I guess this deliberately follows the amazing
    “Your gentleness shall force
    More than your force move us to gentleness” ?

    Thanks for all that, and If again.

    Oh, and although you are indeed slippered, spectacled, of shrunk shank and sound… your last scene, and future, is certainly not oblivion!

    Good childish cheer

  5. This is a wonderful summary, ( and as always full of humour!) of the rich and varied stages of your life. But although Shakespeare says ‘one man plays many parts’ his line from Hamlet applies very much to you ‘unto your own self be true’
    The wise and true verses in ‘If’ also
    describe the ways in which, I feel, you have sought to lead your life.
    Thank you, as ever, for this latest sharing, especially as we know how much effort it now takes to write it xx

  6. Glad to see that you still have your humour and wit David. Thank you for sharing this with us. I love the use of the Seven Ages of Man for insights into your life.

  7. In 2001 I wrote a Cantata for the Otley Choral Society’s 60th birthday celebrations, which sadly has not been performed since, which I called ‘The World’s a Stage’. The Seven Ages (Act 2 Scene 7 of ‘As you like it’ were preceded and followed by verses fromHardy: ‘On one who lived and died where he was born’. I wish I could send you a recording, but, alas, the performance in 2001 wasn’t recorded! It made rather a nicely shaped piece… At least I still have a rather elegantly printed vocal score…
    Cheers David. Keep going, and don’t let the bastard MND grind you down.


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