Richard Nixon was known for three things: for having a big mouth, for being involved
with his advisors over some less than acceptable practices, and for recording everything
he said in the Oval Office. It was this last thing that ultimately helped bring him
right down. So why did he record his every word? I suspect he was a forerunner of
what I am sure will eventually come; he had a sense of history and of being part
of it, a part that needed keeping for posterity.
Modern technology enables us to record every meeting, every encounter, if we wished,
but there are four problems. First most of us don’t see the possibility or realise
the potential, second, it requires money to be spent on people archiving it, third,
it requires an easy retrieval system and, fourth, it requires home technology to
easily access this. There is a market out there for someone to exploit!
Already we see the early somewhat limited days of this, in the ability of the TV
companies to replay on your computer whatever programmes you want. In business and
commerce we do this in a small measure with the keeping of minutes of meetings. U-Tube
on the Internet has developed this a lot more, even if it tends only to be snippets.
Imagine a world where you have the ability to view on screen any meeting of any group
or organisation in the District, either live or for however long afterwards. I suspect
there might be some serious social implications there - and possibly financial ones
The above reflects why we create this weekly editorial - we feel part of history.
But this week has had a twofold historical dimension to it. First of all we have
added a tour around “The Old House” in South Street, one of Rochford’s best kept
secrets, and then we attended the Holocaust Memorial Service and talked to a survivor
before listening to his talk on his experiences and how he survived. Harrowing stuff,
but stuff of which we need reminding. (Unfortunately the quality of the amplification
was so poor it was impossible to obtain a recording that could be transcribed.)
In these ways we contribute to history and, of course, the knowledge of history relies
on the evidence of what has happened. More technology means that there has been an
unquantifiable leap forward in the sheer volume of that evidence. Welcome to a new
day in history.
Have a good week.
EDITORIAL: 23rd January 2011
On the Internet it is not hard to find writings deploring the mundane repetitiveness
of modern life. I nearly quoted one such piece of writing but concluded I neither
wanted to lead you to their somewhat depressing site nor have them track back here.
There are some people best left alone. Now my reason for making this comment is that
last week I commented on the variety of people I have been coming into contact with
via Rochford Life, but this week I have been marvelling over the variety of groupings
who exist in Rochford. Life in Rochford Life is not repetitive!
A week back I had found myself focusing on individuals largely in shops, and the
front page still shows the back end of that list, with Ruth Harley of Animal Fayre
and Colin Bowers of Snobs appearing. Yes, in this week we did interview individuals
and in two cases those individuals represented two different organisations, thus
this week we focused on five organisations. One of the notable things is that each
of these organisations has been around for a long time. Andrew Leach may only have
been around ten years but the Rochford Congregational Church, which he represents,
has been here for a very long time. Following a fairly close second, I think, are
the two Women’s Institutes that we have in town, the Rochford Women’s Institute that
meets on an afternoon, that will have been here for a long time, and then the Roach
Women’s Institute, which meets in an evening, that sprang out of that and so will
have been around not so long. Now I didn’t ascertain when the Rochford Hundred Historical
Society came into being, which I was next introduced to, but I suspect it might have
been even earlier than the Roach WI. Similarly what was the Rochford and District
Fuchsia Society, the fourth of my groups this week, has also been up and running
for some thirty years and so is a strong contender. My apologies if I have ‘order
of age’ wrong, but the point is that here this week we have five different organisations
meeting the needs of numbers of people in different parts of the community - and
they’ve been doing it for a long time!
As three of those organisations focus their activities on the WI Hall (which has
a lot of other users as well), we see a building in the centre of Rochford which
probably gets more use than any other. Following up an invite, we sat in on a Meeting
of the Historical Society on Friday evening, and listened to a good talk on the history
of finger prints and crime scenes. The room was packed, the talk was good and tea
for 30p!!! Who could complain about that! The WI may not be for me, but I’m keeping
an eye on the Fuchsia Society! There’s some good stuff going on in our town.
Have a good week.
EDITORIAL: 16th January 2011
New Year seems to drift gently away, rather like the river bank as our raft of life
moves gently away with the current and the bank is seen at a distance, and loses
some of its interest. In a couple of weeks time quite a large number of earth’s population
will move from the year of the tiger to the year of the rabbit. The Tiger is rebellious,
passionate and generous. A person born in the year of Tiger is theoretically here
to make a splash in whatever area they choose. They are tolerant, staunch and vigilant. Rabbits
are gracious, kind and sensitive. They like to express themselves through art. They
have strong memories and like to make other people laugh. They are good at creating
fun and excitement in their lives and the lives of others. (That’s what the Internet
tells me anyway!)
Putting aside the fact that lots of Chinese born last year almost certainly didn’t
exhibit the characteristics of a tiger, some perhaps being premature rabbits or one
of the other ten animals of the calendar, what these animals do say to us, is that
here is a recognition that humanity is going to be incredibly diverse.
Now I happened to note that last year was dubbed the International Year of Bio Diversity
by the United Nations, which obviously didn’t impact large numbers of us because
we didn’t even know that was what it was. I presume it was about recognising the
diversity of the great land of Bio.This has made me realise that I need a new dictionary
for it’s a word that doesn’t appear in any dictionary in my office. The Internet
says it refers, somewhat obviously, to the variety of life on Earth.
Now I mention this in this rather roundabout and tortuous manner, because as I have
reviewed the many people, groups or organisations we have had contact with in this
past week or so, I have been struck by the variety of people and the variety of activities
that go on in this world around us, and especially here in Rochford. Now this isn’t
to say that Rochford is more diverse than any other place, merely that it’s our town
and it comes under our scrutiny. Rather in the same way as I (and possibly you) were
not aware of last year being a year of Bio Diversity or of the Tiger, I continue
to realise how much I was not aware of, in respect of the life and activity of Rochford.
I conclude that each of us, in reality, really know so few people around us, and
as for what goes on in the shops of Rochford, for example, I have been thinking about
revealing our collective ignorance by a questionnaire. If you are part of this diverse
world of shops, businesses, schools, groups or whatever out there that we haven’t
reached yet, if you read this, why not give us a ring and we’ll come and see you
and reveal you to the community (for free!). In the meantime, have a good week.
EDITORIAL: 9th January 2011
Somewhere around the middle of last century (1964 to be precise) a character by the
name of Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor, coined the phrase, “the medium is
the message”. A writer on Wikipedia suggests that, “McLuhan proposes that a medium
itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study,” and it is for
that reason that we unashamedly, week by week, carry out this exercise in navel gazing
(which is nothing to do with oranges or ships).
Our anticipation is that in three years time we will look back to see just what went
on in these early months in the life of this web-site magazine. A friend of mine
has become an archivist for a school in London whose records go back to the 1700’s
and is frequently called on by people wanting to check out the past. (My American
friend gets upset that we have buildings older than his country!) But history is
important, how things happened and what went on, which is perhaps why we get so fascinated
here at Rochford Life in hearing people’s life stories, how they came to be here
in Rochford. In our business section, John Lewindon is a recent example of that.
I felt sad when we came to write up his interview that we had to edit it so much,
because he has a long and fascinating story, but we recognise the fact that Internet
readers prefer short and sweet. New Year is a time that makes you conscious of the
past as well as of the future.
We had a break of two weeks over Christmas - you wouldn’t have wanted us badgering
you for interviews over Christmas and anyway, we needed the rest. Getting back into
full stride was difficult but suddenly offers of interviews flowed thick and fast
this week, so much so that as at this moment we have three interviews waiting to
be typed up.
We have also become aware of another difficulty. Over the Christmas period we updated
our rather antique software and we now have a new “all bells and whistles” upgrade
- that we don’t have time to use! As every computer user knows, learning the software
is THE crucial stage to success. So here we have this dilemma, requests for interviews
are coming in and we want to do them and while we do them we are having to hold back
on development. So, bit by slow bit, we hope you will see subtle changes to the working
of the site to improve it, but because we want to continue with the central purpose
of Rochford Life, and we want to add to the information base, it will have to be
slow development. Let’s see in six month’s time how that has gone. This is history.
Have a good week.
EDITORIAL: 2nd January 2011
The New Year has arrived! Happy New Year to you and may it be a really good one
for you. I find it always difficult to qualify that wish. In the light of the present
economic climate, is it realistic to wish someone a prosperous New Year when the
odds are that most of us will be worse off as we try to dig the country out of hock?
A happy New Year? Well obviously, but what does happy actually mean? Free from stress?
For that to happen some of us would have to change our jobs. Free from anxiety? Some
of us would need the NHS to perform a miracle on our decaying bodies. Free from upset?
Some of us would somehow have to do some amazing relational rebuilding to stop the
divorce proceedings that are going ahead. My dictionary gives a first definition
of good as “having the right qualities, satisfactory, adequate” and later adds, “gratifying,
agreeable, favourable, advantageous, beneficial”, so I think I’ll feel more comfortable
in wishing you all of that. May it be that sort of year!
New Year is the time for taking down the old calendar and putting up a new one. It’s
funny, when you take down the old, I find you look more at the pictures and words
than you did all through the year. The old calendar that had been hanging in our
kitchen throughout 2010 had paintings by American artist Thomas Kinkade who goes
in for a somewhat ‘romantic’ style of picture with lots of light pouring out of every
window in sight. Each one of the pictures has a saying attached to it, attributed
to Kinkade. There was one that stood out to me. It simply said, “Discovering new
possibilities close to home is another kind of adventure that can make a life romantic.”
I confess I had to think what romantic meant when I read this. The best I could come
up with was an emotional feeling that transcends the ordinary with pleasurable senses,
lifting us above the mundane. (If you’ve got a better definition, feel free to send
it to me!)
I like the idea, especially in the light of the experience of the last three months
of running Rochford Life, that “discovering new possibilities close to home” comes
as an adventure which can lift me above the ordinary and mundane. I never thought
of it like this when we first considered the possibility of Rochford Life, but I’ve
come to see that this is exactly what it has been like. Finding out what makes Rochford
tick (and I realise I’ve only been sitting on the very tip of the iceberg) has indeed
been an adventure and I, personally, have been lifted by it. Thank you yet again
to those of you who have opened up your lives, groups, businesses etc. to us. We
are here to serve you and the community, and look forward to be able to do that more
in this new year of 2011. Have a good year, and a good week.