Je Ne Regrette Rien


I read, the other day, of someone saying, ‘I’d rather grow old than die young.’ It is only when you get older you realise life is far too short, and breaking the odd rule is a choice most of us make at some point on our journey to old age.

The same person also said, ‘Forgive, but never forget.’ I’ve done that all my life as I have always found it easier. Hate is such a negative emotion and leaves us feeling bitter and worn-out. Love and forgiveness are a much nicer emotion to feel, and much more positive. Kissing slowly and loving truly is something I can look back on with a smile on my face, and a twinkle in my eye, and that’s all I will say on that matter. But when the chips are down, I have found laughing to be the best therapy for any ills.

So thinking about whether or not I regret anything in my life, I say what is the point? I do not want to live in the past, but I want to look upon my past and smile about the things I’ve done: the people I’ve met: the risks I took. Yes, we all make mistakes, or what we think are mistakes at the time. But in the end those mistakes make us realise just what it is we really want out of life.

The choices we make, we make for a reason. We might not see what the reasoning is behind some of those choices at the time, but we do further-on down the line. That’s when we can smile and say I did the right thing, and I can honesty say, ‘Je ne regrette rien’  –  I regret nothing.


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“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”  Quote from Christopher Isherwood – writer.

‘Mr Norris Changes Trains’ was the first Christopher Isherwood novel I read. I enjoyed it so much I went on to read many more of his works: for example, The Berlin Stories, Goodbye to Berlin, Christopher and his kind, A Single man, and many more. All of which are worth a read.

Isherwood’s family had pressurised him into studying medicine at university, but he was asked to leave during his second year because he wrote jokes for answers on his exam paper. Christopher soon turned his back on his upper-middle-class background, and with the intention of becoming a writer, he travelled to Berlin in 1929.

Christopher Isherwood was homosexual, but instead of hiding it, like so many men at that time, he embraced it. Berlin, up until the early 30’s, had a reputation for sexual freedom. Christopher was very fond of ‘pretty’ young men, and once there he met many in the clubs of Berlin’s sexual underworld. But Nazism took hold and raids were common on the clubs where homosexuals met.

At a time when homosexuality was a crime, Berlin was – one could say – another Babylon –  but one should applaud Christopher Isherwood for not taking the path most gay men travelled; that of having to hide behind a sham of a marriage. But what of the men who tried desperately to do something about their ‘illness’ as it was termed?

One of those men who tried was Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician who broke the enigma code during the 2nd World War. He was afraid the powers that be would only see his homosexuality, not his genius, and his work would be shunned: swept to one side. Like so many other men who were caught – mainly by police honey-traps in public lavatories – for Alan, too, it was either prison or chemical castration. Alan chose the latter.

Chemical castration, in those days, involved injections of a man-made drug called Stilboestrol. It was originally used to prevent miscarriages in women as it contained the synthetic made female hormone, oestrogen. When given to men it had disastrous side-effects. The suffering it caused was immeasurable: risk of blood clots: breast swelling – which could be prevented by giving small doses of radiotherapy: sex drive drastically impaired – causing impotence: nausea: weight gain: risk of cancer. And if that didn’t ‘cure’ the ‘afflicted’ there was always ECT. How barbaric.

Homosexuality was de-criminalised in the mid-60’s, but even today homosexuality is seen, by some, as wrong.

I, too, am a camera – I am a writer: I read: I learn: I observe: I listen: I store. But most importantly of all: I tolerate.