Tuesday, December 22, 2009

16: Episode N: "2009 Seasons Greetings"

Hi. It's me again ...

Doesn't time fly when you are enjoying yourself. 2009 with all its trials and tribulations slipped by in an instant and once again I find myself levering this slot into my 'must-do before Christmas' list. Some of you will already realise that 60yr ago in Bradford Yorkshire a miracle happened that quite literally changed my life ... a little boy was born that turned out to be me. It is interesting to look back and see how much the world has changed since then, but in keeping with all older people (which now statistically must include me), telling it without a rose-coloured hue is difficult.

These are my first memories and though I remember them quite clearly, they live in a different world. You know, like that place you went to on holiday; it is still there, but somehow it's not real any more. Or the impossibility of imaging in an audience in the nude, despite the fact that you know what nude people look like! (This is supposed to be the way of not feeling nervous when presenting ... Its weakness; if you are able to do it, then you would also become aware of yourself presenting in the nude!)

So this little boy was born in a back-to-back terrace house in industrial Bradford. His dad was a bus driver, his mum a book keeping clerk. They were warmed by an open coal fire, there was basic food on the table they had the clothes they needed. The WC was 25 yds away in the back yard; and bath night was a weekly event in a tin bath in front of the fire, with hand-me-down water. They didn't covet more, so I guess they were happy. The boy wasn't aware when electric lights arrived in 1950, though the old gas-lamp fittings stayed on the ceiling like indoor brass TV aerials as long as he lived there. But he was aware four years later when technology in the form of a 9" Bush TV arrived with all the neighbours in tow, for Queen Elizabeth's Coronation ... she was our Queen, whatever that meant! [1]

At the time his Gran lived in a little village in Wales, LLanfallteg (try pronouncing that when you are sober!). Just 100ys long and in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The village had a station a steam train and level crossing. The station master let the children pull the levers and open the gates. They played in the road, eating crusts smothered with Marmite. They chased the butterflies in sunny meadows by the river. There were chickens in the yard, Gran cooked on a Open Range and the lighting was an oil-lamp. They took a candle to bed and the feather mattress was the combined shape of everybody that had ever slept on/in it. There was ice inside the windows in winter and the boy got so cold that his hands and feet hurt when they were warmed. He got bored, but had to be "seen but not heard". The privy, of the long-drop variety, was in the nearby vegetable garden. The highest technology here, a water tap inside the house; the old pump still standing outside ... idyllic.

Yet it is hard to imagine I ever really lived in a world that didn't have the technology that now pervades almost every aspect of our lives. Look around you now and see what you can see which has not been Engineered? And how much of this could you (literally) live without? [2] It seems it is human nature to only pay attention to things which constitute a threat, and to under value everything else. Technology, Parents, The World, Life ... just are.[3] Not surprising that my mind (and I guess yours) puts earlier memories into different time/location/situation/event packages and treats them like Episodes. Each based around the same character (me in my case); the chain of Episodes making up a life ... Just like a Soap!

So I'm pleased to say as 2009 draws toward a close, that my story is still running and the main characters are still in place. My 2009 had many Episodes, some with happy endings and some without. There are few scars and a few more grey hairs; but to compensate a few more dazzling revelations and deeper understandings. It's been a roller-coaster, and the swings had their roundabouts. I can confirm that as I learn more, I know less [4] ... And the world has becoming more understandable to me; Yet I am frustrated in my inability to share this insight with you ... So you're just going to have to wait ;-)

But I am deeply honoured to share this moment of time/space with you. The billions of years and countless generations of my forefathers and mothers who managed to avoid predators and deprivations long enough to meet one another, mate, and bring up their offspring to perpetuate my line. They may have been less than perfect parents (and a lot were less than human!), but they survived and together contrived to put me here so I could make my very own Episodes involving you ... Isn't it wonderful.

So it is also good to pause once in a while and think of them. A winter celebration at the start of a new year a good opportunity to celebrate birth and life, and the cradle in which our experience is bound. Raise your glass, or just take a moment, whichever seems appropriate ... "To Parents Past"

Of course, cynics might say I was just using the opportunity to test my email address book ...

Still ... Merry Christmas and Happy New-year ;-)

Au revoir.ian
1: http://ian-phillips.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html
2: http://ian-phillips.blogspot.com/2009_11_01_archive.html
3: http://ian-phillips.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html
4: http://ian-phillips.blogspot.com/2009_08_01_archive.html