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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Times they are a Changing

One of the things you can't fail to notice as you get older is how much the world has changed.

My father reckons his generation (he is 77) as seen more change than anyone.

When he was a boy no one he knew for instance owned a television, a car or travelled by aeroplane. He has seen the first atomic bomb, man on the moon and the internet. Admittedly as far as my dad is concerned the internet is some arcane magic device. He was brought up that if you worked hard and well you had a job for life.

When Dad was a boy there was little difference between his upbringing and his father's and his grandfather's.

I don't think I can quite match that but life has changed out of all recognition. I have this thing called a mobile phone which means I can be got hold of virtually anywhere. As I've said before how did we cope before mobiles? we are now all so indispensable!

When I started work I needed a bank account. The only bank that opened on a Saturday was Barclays. Shops still had half day closing. Breakfast TV may or may not have started. Certainly we saw a lot of the testcard

And blow me down the idea of opening Shops on a Sunday was unthinkable.

Now change is not always a bad thing but I am not convinced all this choice is good. All this weekend working may give us choice but is it really good for family unity? Is it good that we just stick the telly on?

Yes we have a certain amount of choice but do we have the maturity to go with it? We certainly lack the respect we used to have and if you look at some of the talentless morons who parade across our newspapers and TV you do despair.

And that's another thing Newspapers were Newspapers not scandel sheets. I suppose I long for older slower times. Of course as my father will tell you that the grass was not always greener.

I think I yearn for a society where people are not all me me me. A society where people are tolerant of each other.

All I can see at the moment is a society which is getting faster, more disparate and has less tolerance and respect.

I suppose that's why I love birding so much. I can pick up a pair of bins and go out and enjoy the quietness and solitude, the world is miles away and life simpler.

Will someone stop the world? I want to get off.


Jan said...

The closest you will get to what you want is living in a Welsh village! A lot of the shops here still close on a Wednesday and a Saturday afternoon, just like they did in the 50s/60s when I was a kid. And would you believe they don't open on a Sunday either! How annoying is that. There's also a lot of community spirit if that floats your boat, and less fear of being mugged, robbed, house broken into, car stolen. I think it's worth putting up with the crap weather to have a better quality of life sometimes.

(My mum thinks the internet is something to fear and be suspicious of too, everyone is a pervert/paedophile/rapist/mentally retarded or all four!) Which category do I fall into I wonder...

Diddums said...

That's strong stuff from you, Pete! But I know the feeling well. The populated world doesn't seem to want to shape life to suit folk rather than businesses - and if we say we need a bit more space, time, and quality of life, it's made clear it must be a problem with us as individuals, not with society. But I beg to differ...

Pete said...

Jan - I don't think he fears it just doesn't understand it. I suspect he has never used a computer in his life!

Diddums - I don't know that its just business everyone is very materialistic these days.

Malcolm said...

This is a subject that interests me. As I have done a fair amout of family history research and have the story of his life that my grandfather wrote when he retired, it has come up before.

Fundamentally, I think that everyone in every age feels that change is accelerating as they get older. I am the same generation as your father, my brother is also 77, but although it feels like it, I am not sure in reality that things are changing faster today than in my youth.

The 39-45 war forced massive change, both technical (radar, penecillin, atomic power, aeroplanes ...) and social (women working, education reforms, start of NHS ...).

Going back to my father's time (he was born in 1903) he saw roads asphalted for the first time, electricity in houses, the telephone becoming common, mass motor cars (Model T Ford, Austin 7).

My grandfather was born in 1867. He walked 3 miles to school through the East End of London everyday when he was less than 10! At school he used chalk and a slate to write on. The London sewers were built only just before he was born. Although gas lighting had been used in streets in the first half of the 19th century, it was only after the invention of the gas mantle in 1890 that it was used in homes.

When you are young, you don't notice change - after all, everything is all new to you - but as you get older, it becomes more difficult to learn new things so you think the rate of change must be hotting up - you can no longer keep pace!

So I don't accept the argumnet that the has been more change in recent times than in previous eras!

Pete said...


I accept some of your argument, they are undeniable, but I'm not certain how widespread the effects of the early changes were.

changes like the inroduction of cars didn't hit the masses for years.

undoubtedly since the start of the industrial revolution peoples lives have changed greatly, but i'd argue that their fundamental lives haven't changed that much until this century.

For instance although population movement has occured (my Dad's family was in Lincolnshire at the end of the 18th century) my Mum's family can be traced to the same Essex village for well over 250 years and didn't move. Their jobs were all the same as much as I can make out.

My Father wouldn't argue that many of the changes were bad. He would accept that his standard of living is one he couldn't imagine as a lad in the east end of London.

What I would argue is that our ability as a species to deal with the change hasn't kept up with the pace of the change.

I do accept your argument that as you get older change is more noticeable but I think since the war but I still argue that we haven't developed the social skills to keep up