Wednesday 9 February 2011


There is any number of possible headings for to-day's blog thoughts. What I have in mind is the lacuna between the perception of a phenomenon or event that someone of three score years and more may have and that of a younger person. How to categorise 'younger': anyone who is less than seventyish would do, I suppose. Nothing new in that, it's what the blog is about and, as you know, I do try to keep focussed on the issue as stated. (I bet my English teacher never dreamed she would be so awesomely respected at a distance of sixty years). Anyway, the present concern is birthday cards. As it happens, two of the people who are closest to me have a birthday on the same day, not the same year, just the same day. I duly sent off cards, one from me and one from my beloved cat - of course, what did you expect? - then, since one of them is the Guru who is staying with me at the moment, waited with some vicarious excitement, to see what else the postman would bring. Nothing, nicht, rien and so on and so on. Since he has the widest circle of friends of anyone I know, I was surprised to the point of disbelief. Indeed, so affected was I that I took him for a meal about forty times as grand as I could afford, to make up for the shocking neglect of all the other people in his life. During the course of this gourmet indulgence, he, borderline forgiveably, looked at his mobile phone. "That makes sixty two birthday texts and more on Facebook", he announced, with some warranted satisfaction. Had he actually received that number of wishes in the form of cardboard designs and stamped red envelopes, the local postman would have sued for displacement of his most important disc. Where perceptions come in is that the Guru found this quite normal and could not get his mind around my view of it as strange and, more important, transitory. How can you keep, in your box of special preciousness, sixty two text messages? I do have, still, in my special box, the cards from my seventieth birthday and from my seventy fifth. If you really need to know, I also have the congratulatory cards sent to me when each of my children was born. I know, I know, in due course they will be the ones who throw the things out, with a ripple of amused intolerance for a Mother too sentimental to know better: their perception.

I am reading more and more comments in newspapers about the sterility and empty nature of electronic communication. There does not seem to be anything we can do to stem this tide. The thing is, the young do not perceive it as sterile. It is what they know. My cards seemed quaintly old-fashioned to those who received them. My 'Thank you' notes seem dated. I go in to shops to find what I need. I don't look on-line. It makes me feel disorientated, ghostly. I am in danger of losing my perception of the world as a more or less friendly place, peopled by others more or less like me - Heaven forfend, but nevertheless..... I work hard to think myself in to the way the current generation perceives the world, the speed of it, the knowing of newsworthy events almost as they happen, the obsolescence of stuff that was new the day before yesterday. Why do we need to get to Birmingham fifteen minutes faster then we do at the moment? (For those kind readers over the Pond, a road is being built which cuts through swathes of one of the most beautiful corners of beautiful England in order that one may get to Birmingham 15 minutes sooner than one can at present). I begin to suspect that we are in danger of running away with ourselves - or from ourselves? But that is how I perceive it. Someone somewhere must perceive it differently or it wouldn't have happened. You know what, I have the feeling that, older or younger, I am going to be perceived as a green ink writer of letters - not yet emails -to the papers. Is it even possible for 75 going on 40 actually to become, to transmogrify in to an accurate perceiver of the world as it is perceived by thosewho are truly 40 or less? Should I be giving a d..n? What do you think? C u soon.

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