I was too young to remember the funerals of my biological Omas, but today I attended the funeral of my Oma-Friend (as she would sign off her letters), and I want to talk about it.
Not because I enjoy morbid topics, or because her life changed the world (although it did change mine, and for the better), or even because I am one of the few people who get the precious chance of a third Oma, but because I want a funeral like hers.
I’ve always been interested in how literature reflects and affects society. Perhaps that’s why I am fascinated by the Lays of Ancient Rome. On the other hand, it could just be because they sound cool.
The Lays are a collection of poems by Thomas Babington Macaulay. They are Roman ballads, set in Ancient Rome about Roman heroes, yet were written in 1842 by a Victorian gentleman.
What is ambition?
When I think of ambition, I see someone fighting tooth and nail to get to the top of their career ladder… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I imagine an athlete, struggling to stay ahead of their peers, striving for Olympic gold… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I picture a work-a-holic father, shutting out his family and surviving on toast and beans in his desire for success… and to be honest, that’s not me.
And yet, I’ve come to realise over the years that ambition can take different forms. Or perhaps what I am about to describe is not ambition exactly – and yet ambition is the best word I’ve found so far to describe it.
Being unable to sleep at night because the ideas keep coming. I could do this, and that, and this again… that’s me.
There’s a book I’ve been writing for a long time, and it’s gone through many evolutions. It began when I was fifteen or sixteen and I read something online which made me wonder: what would the Sherlock Holmes series have been like if Holmes and Watson met during the Anglo-Afghan war?
Then I thought: what would it have been like for any two people of such distinct personalities to meet in a trench? What if a masterful, proud man was terrified of the war – what if he were battle shy or blood sick yet refused comfort? How would another character uncover his secret and comfort him?
But then I asked: well, what if there was more than this masterful character’s personality standing in the way? What if there was some huge social divide – and offering comfort became a question of morality rather than mere humanity?
What if the masterful, proud, terrified man was a murderer?