A few weeks ago, I was in the Peak District (that’s a rural area of England for those from further afield) spending a few lovely days with a few lovely friends. In spite of the changeable weather, we had decided to go for a walk. Those of us with “conditions” had decreed that said walk should be reasonably flat, and so it was decided to walk around a lake. We had a choice of two lakes, and eventually decided on Tittesworth Reservoir – man-made with a fancy dam at the end (there are enough engineers among my friends that “engineering porn” is a well-worn phrase where I come from, and dams count).
However, the OTHER lake, the one we didn’t visit, is Rudyard Lake. The story goes, that Mr and Mrs Kipling -to-be spent some time at Rudyard Lake and thought it so beautiful they named their son after it. Presumably an early precursor to the Brooklyn Beckham school of thinking. It has since been voted the “3rd most romantic spot in Britain” or some such honour.
It’s probably a good job the courting couple went to Rudyard Lake, Tittesworth Kipling doesn’t have the same ring to it!
One of Mr Kipling’s exceedingly good poems came to mind this week. It’s been a favourite of mine and an inspiration for years; I learned it by heart as a teenager, not for a class project, but simply because I wanted to take it with me wherever I went. The last line has proved controversial in our modern age of gender equality, but I think the point stands regardless of the wording, and I enjoy it for what it is.
If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies;
Or being hated, not give way to hating
And yet don’t look too good or talk too wise.
If you can dream and not make dreams your master
If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.
If you can dare to hear the truth you’re spoken,
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
And watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn, long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing left within you,
Except the will, which says to them “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings, nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
And all men count with you, but none too much.
If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth, and everything that’s in it
And, which is more, you’ll be a man, my son.