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FIFTY YEARS.

Fifty years  of a life sounds like a long time, in historical terms it is a mere snippet.  It frequently surprises me that the years of my youth, the 50s, 60s and even the 70s are placed  in a long ago time we now call history or in my case more accurately herstory.  Does that make me history, someone belonging to an ancient past?  I still walk and talk and intermittently say something sensible.  Signs of a crumbling body are ever present but with the right equipment I can pass for normal.           Much of life in the twenty-first century is better than it ever has been, I suspect that in my position I am extra-ordinary lucky.  The Millennium generation sadly face fewer jobs, ludicrously expensive houses and an ongoing battle between money coming in (too little) and money going out(too much), the fortunate few have the bank of mum and dad but many have an increasingly limited Benefit System.

    In the  ‘ Never had it so good’  1950s many families lived in overcrowded, dilapidated housing (slums).  My family moved into a newly built council house, own front door, indoor bathroom and toilet inside and out.  The draw back was that services, shops and schools were left out of the planning, primary school children had to get on a bus.  My five year old brother was very unhappy at being so far from home in his first school.

    A safe secure home is absolutely the first essential for every family in a peaceful, prosperous,fair,and democratic society.  It is probable that a rented sector will form part of the mix with the home-owning sector another part.  There is no reason that rented accommodation should be dilapidated, overcrowded with no security of the rent asked.  Regulations can be set up by a Housing Association or a council or by the landlords with safeguards enforced by a group who represents the tenants interest.  Germany has a large rented sector which offers security and high living standards.  A democratic society needs to show that every citizen has a right to : a secure home, free education for children, full employment and a health care system available to all at the point of need.  Societies that limit these opportunities to the few lose both peace and prosperity.  The USA and the UK are sending a clear warning of the demi-gogs who lie in wait.

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HIGHLANDS-SCOTLAND’S WILD HEART.

I’m astonished by the beauty and mystery  of these islands.  Technology has a vivid and precise way of allowing us to see vistas and panoramic views that with my own naked eyes I would only see a tiny fraction of the mountain or the loch.    The modern film camera enables me to see in a wide expansive way the valleys and hills which would otherwise be a smudge in the distance.  The reverse of the microscope which enables us to see tiny, microscopic bacteria which the naked eye would be quite unable to see.  Of course the camera and the camera man is sometimes in an aeroplane flying above the rivers and forests and showing me and you a 3D map of the lie of the land.

   Even on film Loch Ness looked enormous, a great expanse of fresh water full of salmon swimming back to their breeding ground : the magnificent sight of ospreys catching and swallowing a very large salmon, a red squirrel leaping from tree to tree and dolphins leaping out of the water.  These camera men are creative artists just as the Venerable  Bede  was in the eighth century drawing beautiful pictures and copying by hand Bible stories which would be read to men and women most of whom could neither read nor write.

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NEW ZEALAND: EARTH’S MYTHICAL ISLANDS.

This is a series of three programmes focusing on the natural life of North and South islands and the many small islands which are dotted all around the main land mass.  The photography is absolutely breath-taking and the narration tells the story of the formation of the land and the creatures and the human beings who so recently came to live there.  I can hardly find words to describe the beauty and enormous skill of the photographers and producers of these amazing films.  The films are on BBC iPlayer and show us what a beautiful  and amazing planet we live on.  The camera tells the story of our planet in visual images, it is also helpful to have the words to tell the story of how are planet has changed and continues to change.

   So much teaching in schools: in geology, geography, history , social sciences and languages could be stimulated and made understandable to all children.  This kind of filming is comparable to the invention of the printing press and the enormous changes brought about by the availability of books.  The dawn of a new age in schools.

Here’s a link to the programmes: write placeblog.wordpress.com

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DISCOVERING

I have just read an extremely interesting book, Negroland  a memoir by Margo Jefferson.  Margo was brought up in Chicago and it reminded me that President Obama and his wife Michelle started their working lives together in that city. I wanted to discover more about Chicago.  To my chagrin I’ve recently discovered how little I know about many things, in particular about the USA.  I’ve been reading on my kindle the memoirs of people who were once slaves;  Sojourner Truth, Mary Prince, Booker T Washington and W E B Du Bois.  Their experiences have considerable differences depending on where they lived and whether they lived before the abolition of slavery in 1865 or afterwards.

    I’m very interested in the memoirs of people who grew up at roughly the same time as I did in very different places.  I must confess Margo is nine years younger than me, she was born in 1947.  She is a Pulitzer prize winning critic and a Professor and she writes elegant, vivid prose.  Reading her book in bed I only stopped when I fell asleep and knew it was time to close the book and put it and my glasses on the bedside table. (By the way I paid 60p. for this new book and my local library paid the rest, a pretty good deal I think)  She describes very clearly her family’s life as part of the professional black middle class living in a mainly white middle class area; the constraints on behaviour and the high expectations of her parents.

     I’m also reading, “Estates  An Intimate History” by the English author Lynsey  Hanley.  She is writing about family life in the 1970s and 80s in a council estate on the edge of Birmingham.  Her family she describes as working class, there is one word which looms large in her account RESPECTABLE.  Although the Working Class is frequently written about as one monolithic group she points out several sub-divisions: the skilled working class, the respectable working class in regular employment and those in intermittent employment struggling on a daily basis to get by.  this of course is an ever increasing sub-division in the twenty-first century, zero hours contracts and below the minimum rates of pay.  I too was brought up on a council estate, fortunately at a time when opportunities were in an expansive phase in the 1950s and 60s.  Estates is a combination of personal history and the wider social and economic changes taking place at that time.

    The present is a period of contraction or as the government refers to it Austerity.  Fewer jobs, increased debt and houses at fantastical prices.

 

 

 

Posted in MINUTES, YEARS, OLD AND YOUNG., Uncategorized

FRAIL.

Time is a very strange thing, contrary to scientific thinking it does not pass in the same regular fashion.  In the early hours of the morning the minutes pass so slowly they seem like hours, time almost seems to stop.  Yet round about breakfast time, say eight o’clock, the hours speed up and suddenly its noon and half my morning jobs; stacking the dish-washer, making the bed, throwing the laundry into the machine are still not more than half done.  If I sit for a moment with a cup of coffee I think of the years that have raced away and suddenly I’m a Pensioner, how did it happen?

Now you and I know pensioners are frail, decrepit people, who can’t take a selfie, don’t understand that emails and texts are absolutely the first thing you must look at every morning and keep on looking at every few minutes in case something should happen to someone in your class.  Pensioners don’t understand the internet, for goodness sake they still post letters with a stamp on.  They can’t stand up straight, their knees are wobbly, their hips have to be replaced by bits of metal and they have horrible dried wrinkly skin.  Some of this is very close to home but I’m not going to tell you which.  On the other hand I can still walk and talk, not exactly ‘a living doll’, no someone who is shocked at the mess we are making for our children and grandchildren.  We didn’t understand that personal satisfaction is not the whole of life and society does actually form an important part of all our lives.  The changes in everyday life arrive with astonishing speed, many adding to our enjoyment but uncontrollable greed democracies have still not learned to deal with.