My birthday ramble
Yes it’s my birthday! So a special Sunday ramble this week. The picture above was posted on Facebook by my friend Richard in Sydney, Australia, yesterday. That’s handy, it gave everyone advance warning! If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’ve been helping students with their studies for the past few years.
One of the students, Fei came to study in the UK in 2012 and she now has a bachelor’s degree in business studies and a Master’s degree in International Business. She is my house guest until she returns to China on the 10th of February. She will meet some members of my family today when I have a soirée at my home this afternoon. The Black Country accent and dialect is a derivative of the way the Anglo Saxons spoke many years ago, so understanding the conversation will be challenging. I like this politically correct word, challenging; much better than saying bloody impossible.
I have been getting a taste of what it must be like to have children or grand children. It must be quite nerve racking. We went shopping on Thursday, while Fei thought about what to buy, I thought about whether my hip replacement would make it back to the car.
I seem to have a good reputation amongst the students and graduates now, another one wants to visit and meet me this week. I’m becoming something of an expert on Chinese students now, I’m not sure how useful that might be in the future.
I usually have guests at Christmas, but things didn’t work out so hence the birthday soirée. Fei bought me a birthday cake complete with candles; I can’t eat it because I’m a Coeliac, but it’s cool because I’ve never had one before.
There’s a first time for everything. I don’t usually get writer’s block, but I don’t have a clue what to write next. I found out yesterday how much tea I get through in a day. I must cut down, I think 13 cups a day is a little too much caffeine, no wonder I’m a wreck. Caffeine does stimulate the brain though and since I gave up cigarettes I need all the stimulation I can get. It’s now 12 years since I gave up the dreaded weed. Smoking was normal and even desirable when I was young. How times have changed. Many things have changed for the better, but I do think politically we are taking backwards steps rather than going forward.
In those post war years that I was dragged up in, they built houses and we had industry that made things. Everything now is about working in the ‘service’ industries trying to sell payment protection insurance or lottery tickets. Life is more of a lottery now, you have to be born into the right family or be lucky enough to win the lottery.
People of my age look back and remember through rose-tinted glasses. They remember grammar schools and fountain pens with fondness. I remember coughing through the pollution, trying to find my way home through the smog. Young people now want snow, we had too much of the bloody stuff. Driving through 5 inches of snow is no fun. In those days, we drove cars that were falling apart with lousy brakes. Kids get driven to school now, I walked and got lost in smog when I was only about 6 years old.
They say kids aren’t so smart now. They do seem thick sometimes; they don’t know how to spell, but can send a message using a smartphone. With machines doing the arithmetic, do they really need to learn how to do it with a pen and paper? Certainly some of the stuff I learnt comes in useful. I work out returns on investments in my head many times a day and make useful judgements. A film came on television last night just as I was going to turn it off to sleep and I recognised the dialogue as being from ‘The Tempest’. No I didn’t watch it, Shakespeare after midnight? No thanks. I am more likely to watch Shakespeare now than when I was studying it in one of those fine English grammar schools that the lower class Tories love so much. I was seriously affected by reading Dickens and like Victoriana. I am under no illusions that the Victorian era was a terrible time for most people though.
We are our memories, they are part of who we are. I have lots of memories, many of them nightmares. I go out now and capture memories with my camera. Will those images survive when I am gone, will people read this in 100 years? There is so much on the internet and although it gets saved on a computer called the Way Back machine, which is a digital archive; it all seems very temporary. Life is temporary though, even though we delude ourselves that we will live for ever.
There’s nothing like a cup of tea for writer’s block…
That’s it for today. Don’t forget you can subscribe to this block or to a Zillion Ideas and receive emails when I post something new. I would do it today if I were you, I’m not getting any younger! You can also follow me on Twitter for updates.