Play it again, Sam

It is Wednesday, and time once again for Fandango’s Provocative Question. I’m going to paraphrase, but this week he asks, would you go back? If you had your time over again, would you start over?

Actually, I’m gonna take a step back (did you see what I did there 🙂). His exact wording is:

Would you be willing to give up everything you have if you could go back and start your life all over again? Why or why not?

Give up everything? Well, everything is an awful lot, but let’s just split it into a few different parts.

First and foremost, there is my health. Sure, I’d love to go back to before the stroke, but strokes are generally a slow burn, some kind of cumulative thing. Usually, a stroke isn’t caused by a one-off trauma. Certainly mine wasn’t, as best I can say. So, who’s to say that the same thing wouldn’t happen over again, aged 48? How much would I have to change to make the stroke not happen? Whatever I changed, whenever I changed it, could I make the stroke not happen? None of this is clear.

On the same subject, when I think back to the stroke, it was totally painless. Things just stopped working, but it didn’t hurt. We all have to go somehow so if I ended up having another…well, it could be worse.

Next, there is the material wealth that I accumulated. In that respect, I didn’t do badly. I might have done better, but by and large I loved my work. Still do. In fact, I know for a fact that I turned down better money to stay in an environment that I liked. So, what price happiness? If things had been different, would they necessarily have been better? Would I be happier?

Next, there is my knowledge, my intellect. I’m quite happy with how that turned out. Maybe we all think our values are the right ones? I juess so, I certainly do. I’m glad that I try to help other people with the charity work I do, I’m sad that more of us don’t. And I look in the mirror, I see a life that’s beeen lived, that has gotten wiser as I’ve gotten older. Experience, life skills, are everything – they’re what make us who we are. Some of the best life skills are developed by the knocks we take. I can see the benefit now, but I’d rather not go through those knocks again.

Then, there are relationships. I’m happily married, I wouldn’t want to change that. My daughter and I are chalk and cheese, so my child-rearing experience could have gone better, but I always wanted children so I’d have probably ended up going through something similar again.

You can probably tell, by now, where this is going. No, in general I wouldn’t want to change things. But that’s not quite it. There are specifics I’d change. Of course, I’d like to be sitting here able-bodied. I’d love not to have had the stroke. But because of the stroke I have met people I never would have met, not just met them but mixed with them. I’ve seen how the Health system, the Benefits system, don’t work very well. A lot of people of my age are yet to find this out – people think there is something concrete behind all the taxes they pay, I’ll bet they’ll be disappointed when they find out..

There are more relationship things, from before my wife. Maybe if I had or hadn’t said such-and-such, the relationship wouldn’t have ended? Ha ha, yeah, right! Looking back, I got off lightly! Failed relationships are a rite of passage. And, I can’t complain with how it has turned out. And, of course the issue of sex – it has to come up. Maybe if I had or hadn’t said that thing, I’d have laid that woman I always fancied? But I do know that sex is a lot less important at fifty-something than it was at twenty-something! Maybe these are all just the little learnng processes we have to go through in order to become better people? And it’s not just the stroke, or my diabetes, talking. My wife says exactly the same. Maybe all that parenting just knocked it out of us?

Those are basically my thoughts, but I’m aware that when I first read Fandango’s post, I commented about the UK film About Time. When I made the comment, I thought I might bring it into my response, although as it turns out, I haven’t. Furthermore, I’ve since seen Fandango’s response that he hasn’t yet seen the film, so there will be no spoilers from me. I shall say no more on the subject other than to highly commend it it to you, it is well worth the watch, and it does offer another answer to Fandango’s question.

Luxembourg (1995)

I posted a few weeks ago about our trips to the Netherlands, and a few months ago about my once-frequent stays in Paris. I figure I’m on a roll, so…Luxembourg.

But now the kicker. I wrote something originally as a single post, but it just grew longer and longer. I don’t know about you, but I lose interest in too-long posts, I suppose because reading is such an effort for me. So this is merely Part One, centered around my first visit. I shall continue with my other visits in the future. This first post will be short, because it was a short trip.

Luxembourg is another of those places that we ended up having enjoyable family times, but my first encounter was as a singleton.

It was entirely at random. I’d been working very hard, and we had a bank holiday coming up, so I hit the local travel agent (remember them?) and said, Find me somewhere to go for the weekend. They gave me a few options, and Luxembourg sounded like it might be an adventure. Also, it was 1995 (I really do have the tee-shirt) and Luxembourg was currently the European Capital of Culture, so special events were planned. I was earning well, so opted for the best hotel on offer – the Intercontinental.

I flew from Heathrow – all nice and smooth – Luxembourg is a small airport and I used to find that smaller generally meant smoother in the world of air travel. The hotel was a little way out of the city centre, but no matter – it was the best.

Luxembourg Ville (ville, to differentiate the city from the country) – where to start? Well, it is built of two levels, for a start, so views like this defined the city:

Luxembourg Ville

The city itself spanned a couple of escarpments, linked to each other by bridges and looking down on a lower level, for some reason called Grund. Grund was largely green. gardened, as you can see, making for a very green city overall.

The city centre was pretty compact, with many designer shops – Luxembourg is not necessarily a cheap place! Luxembourg, after all, had the highest per-capita income in Europe. But – a mix. A few streets from those designer shops, one could quite easily get a pizza or a burger. But after a full-on Friday evening and Saturday, I’d seen enough for this time.

Chamber of Deputies (I think!)

Wanting to see as much as possible, though, and not having transport of my own, on Sunday I got the train into France, destination Strasbourg. A train is also a good way to see the countryside, which outside the cities was very rural.

Strasbourg is a hybrid – right on the border between France and Germany. So it doesn’t feel quite French. Add to that that it is one of the places where the European Parliament meets, and it had a very international flavour. But, some beautiful architecture:

Cathedral, Strasbourg
Petite France, Strasbourg

Strasbourg was about 2 hours from my hotel back in Luxembourg, so another long day. But when you have a limited time to explore, you tend to pull the stops out. After that busy weekend, I flew home on the Monday, ready for work again on Tuesday. A successful trip, no? And cetainly whetted my appetite for times to come!