We all need parts of our life that have little or no connection with our work and which show that we are rounded people. Cultural, academic, artistic, literary, sporting and scientific pursuits sustain us. This blog explores my hinterland: the things that interest me; the things I want to find out more about; and the things that make life worthwhile.
Denis Healey was the first person I heard adopt the word. He was a British politician active in the 60s and 70s. He once said that it was his wife, Edna, who first used the term. I hold out the hope that future politicians will come to politics with their own hinterland located. We might be better off as a country if they did. We have been poorly served by the current generation of politicians who went from university to think tank or aide to another politician before winning their own seat in the Commons.
Here is a quote from the 1989 film ‘Dead Poets Society’. Robin Williams played an inspirational teacher called John Keating.
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
Everybody should have a hinterland, a place to which to retreat and from which to gain strength to be able to return to the everyday concerns of life. This blog is all about mine.
Four Things about Me
1. I was given a child’s picture atlas for my eighth birthday. I loved it. I spent hours looking at the pictures and maps, hoping that one day I would travel to these exotic places. I have it still and, whenever I travel to a new place, I look up the (now very outdated) photos in the atlas.
2. I loved history at school. I had the same inspiring history teacher from ages 11 to 18. I have spent the years since leaving school visiting places I learned about in the classroom and places that had significance in the past.
3. I did not leave England until I was 21. I travelled to Germany for one morning! A friend got us tickets on a ferry to Hamburg but we arrived at 9.00 am and had to leave by midday. It was enough. I have made up for lost time since then!
4. I went to a comprehensive school. It provided me with an education that led to university and a sense that education gives you choices. My school raised my aspirations and had high expectations of me. Listening to modern politicians (of all parties) attack education to enhance their own careers has always sickened me.