Youth is about middle age; about the time when the "glow in the heart" dims and we look back in awe at the boundless faith of our early years. Like Heart of Darkness, it's narrated by Charles Marlow. And like Heart of Darkness, it's absolutely stunning, an unforgettable story, a book I will return to again and again.
Over a bottle of wine with friends, Marlow tells the tale of his disastrous first sea voyage to the East. Storms, collisions and explosions beset his vessel. Whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. Yet Marlow, now in his forties, remembers the journey with great happiness, as "the best time", a time when he felt indestructible, immortal, when he believed he "could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men".
Marlow's companions nod in recognition. I did too. Being young and at sea: the best time. And all too soon it is gone and we too are sitting round a table with old friends, looking into tired eyes, seeing their lines and wrinkles, wondering where the years went and why we ever imagined we were all going to live forever.