When I was a kid (by the way, beware of anyone who opens like this), the great fear was the advance of the machine. The world was mechanical. Most watches still ticked in clockwork measurement of time, so that to me it seemed that time did “Tick away”. Common London vernacular described the human heart as your “ticker”. Now the beep and the arty bing bong form the punctuation of time. The electronic calculator arrived as I was at primary school and its been a one way street ever since. A few days ago the final bridge to that past was blown. The last typewriter factory in the world closed down. Now let us think about that. The works of F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Shakespeare were all qwertyd out by ribbon and roller sweat. (A deliberate error is included to keep you awake). I hit the keys during the 70’s as a teenager and I still have my old friends at my side. These machines beat out novels and poems that were rejected by some of the greatest publishing brands in the world. Words pounded into the paper on these keyboards sat unread in slush piles of Faber and Faber, Mills and Boon, Poetry review and True Love magazine. Some of them are still there. Who knows, some work experience kid on a 10 year internship hoping for a job before she/he dies might be reaching for the next yellowing bundle on the !980 pile. What bothers me is what do we do when all the power goes off? Has anyone come up with the clockwork powered lap top?
A recent survey has revealed that “most people” feel insecure and vulnerable if they do not have their mobile phone with them. I suppose I should poo poo this idea but actually I think this is true. Firstly I think that folk feel insecure and vulnerable anyway as their jobs and life-style lose stability. Secondly I think that the cult of individual grasping for self that has created our societies, has eroded the notion of community. The mobile phone represents a kinda friend and a connection to our own network, where folk just might be more kind or care.
Unemployment among the young is a record levels and soaring. More and more old timer steam and clockwork guys are clinging on to their jobs, while kids who teethed on X box and have degrees are queuing for a job flipping burgers. I know it takes a while to turn the tanker around, but is there anyone on the bridge?
Emma thinx: In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is under contract to the bank.
I suppose we all think we remember what it is like to be a child. I’ve always been a great admirer of writers who can produce stories and characters that grip the attention of children. I often think that some books for very young kids are designed to appeal to parents. Writing for children is a special talent and I’m guessing that you need some element of personality that is still rooted in being a child or younger person. I must admit to wondering if you actually have to like children. Maybe to know children you have to retain some their utter cruelty. Are there any children’s writers out there to tell me?
This topic came to mind as I was sitting in my bus yesterday afternoon. A woman with a little boy of no more than 3 walked past and we made eye contact. I could see she was kind. A few yards ahead was an enormous puddle. The lad looked up at mum who smiled consent to an unasked question. The lad ran in splashing and shrieking with delight. Soon he was soaked and the reality of cold wet clothes overcame his pleasure. I guess that was his first time and I was forced to reflect on how quickly the predators begin to nibble at our innocence. All the same it was one of those little golden moments that will stay with me. She was a lovely mum and no statesman or super star has ever done more.
Once your kids grow up and in my case very quickly become far more serious and sensible than me, you kinda lose touch with a large slice of the world. Luckily, driving a school bus has refilled my account with all manner youthful cultural currency. I do like to have a little sing and a bop about as I’m waiting for the kids to come out. Yesterday a student took the time to give me a steer to Genki Sudo and a music group named “World Order”. Now, I missed all those protest songs that were spawned by the Vietnam War and the threat/fear of nuclear attack. It is tempting to think of young folk as conditioned and accepting on account of the lack of overt radicalism in politics. This little clip (you may think it goes on a bit) represents some cogent social comment and the yoofs are much more aware than you would think. It is also very troubling to realise than most people are so much more talented, so much younger and so under employed.
A high powered committee have named three new elements for the periodic table. Apparently they are super-heavy and fall apart as soon as they are created. Tomorrow I’m gonna send them one of my poor attempts at Quiche pastry. Soon Calinium will be number 113. Immortality at last.
Emma thinx: Youth – your state of mind before your mind’s a state.
I wanted you all to be the first to know. I’m going home for the week.The photo is of one of my views. Can you believe it? I just can’t tell you how lovely St. Savinien is. Away from the urban madness I will live properly again. I’m just so lucky. It’s half term in the UK so I’m free from the bus. Gilles works for an Anglo/French company and he’s convinced them that the corporate thrust needs to be applied over there for a few days. Poor old geezer should retire really but I don’t think they do retirement any more. Soon there will be a mass army of unemployed young people who’s only work will be as coffin bearers as all the old folk work themselves to death at all the jobs the young should be learning and taking on. I might write a book about it called “For whom the bell doles”. For the benefit of non natives the word “dole” means unemployment pay. Ooh I’m a cynical old cow.
Quiet day on the bus. At the tower block, intercom mom told me that her lad was “not really up to it today.” I asked if he had been kind to her. “Ee’s been a right little darlin’ Emma,” she said with a genuine smile in her voice. Somewhere in the concrete sky above me was a little warm sense of love. Ah – made me feel quite motherly smotherly.
Gotta get stuff in the car and calm myself. Much will be forgotten I’m sure. This time tomorrow I’ll be home, gabbling to friends in French, wondering about dinner…..and the possibility of cassoulet du lapin. I love my man and this is the only proof he ever asks. Can a woman deny her man a nice bit of hot furry game?
Emma thinx: Don’t just sit there. – Boo something. Be a fan not a spectator.