RDC News Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Silver Surfer Articles Return to “Silver Surfers”  CONTENTS PAGE Page SIXTY FIVE

Now I find this links up with something else that has been right at the forefront of my thinking throughout the six years that Rochford Life has been running and that is, for much of the time a large percentage of the local population do not know so much of what has been going on. This first hit me within three weeks of starting to check out local activities for Rochford Life – and it involved me, my ignorance. I had interviewed someone who introduced me to another group and someone in the group said, “Are you interested in art groups?” and when I said yes, they told me of their group that met a little distance away. A few evenings later I turned up at this group of about twenty people and naively asked, “How long have you been meeting here?” expecting them to say a few months. Instead the reply came, “Twenty years.”  Twenty years? I live less than two hundred yards away and I never knew you were here.

Some time in the following year I was picking up businesses in West Street and a cry that came up more than twice was, “The trouble is the public just don’t we’re here. Commuters just dash by on the way to and from work and don’t notice us.” Shortly afterwards I was covering District Council matters and at that time the Council were holding local information meetings around the District and I attended one in Canewdon Hall just to see what went on. What was interesting was that fifty yards away over a back fence of the hall live some people I know quite well. Not long afterwards I happened to be in their home and commented about their absence from the meeting. “What meeting?” they asked.

Since then I have had the opportunity to interview a variety of Councillors of both Parish and District Council and officers of the District Council and came to realise a little of the extent of the work they do. Now we have lived in Rochford for over forty years but if, over six years back you had asked me about the Councils I would have replied, “Councils, what councils?” Now to be fair that was not total ignorance because I had been in the Planning Office and talked about plans and building regs when we had had an extension built but beyond that, it was a case of “Who?” Now this is doubly bad because in one of my previous incarnations I used to teach law and within that – in a very small amount certainly – was something on Government, including local government. Yet when it came to everyday life it was still a case of “Who?” Now if that was true of me, how common was it of others, I wondered.

Now this “I don’t know” syndrome stretches all over the place. When I wandered in to that art group six years ago, I found that they were getting ready for a thing called an art trail. I have never heard of this so they presented me with a beautiful leaflet produced by the Council and I took interest. I have a fairly wide circle of friends and acquaintances and so I enquired around and nobody I spoke to knew anything about this “Art Trail”. I took to badgering the Council publicity officer at the time but not a lot seemed to change so four years ago I decided to start to cover the Trail here on Rochford Life, and for four years I have tried to increase the coverage of it and publicize it. Roaming the Trail last week, I ran across an old friend who I hadn’t seen for a couple of years and commented on what we were doing and she commented, “What trail?”

I have talked about publicity with various leading Councillors and we all just accept it is a problem. Until every person in Rochford has a computer and e-mail, or we have their mobile number and could text message them, it will be an ongoing problem. Now I know this was a problem the Council were facing a while back when wondering how they could issue flood warnings to the populace and I don’t think a satisfactory answer has ever been fully found. It makes one realise that we are only part way down the communication road. Lots is spoken about social media and how parts of the population are constantly talking to each other, but there are still many of us for whom that is not true. When we are all truly on an open communication system we will then struggle with the information we don’t want. Cold calling is still a pain, and the idiots for one of the “stans” still try to con me that they need my bank information, while certain other clowns from a well-known (well-known because they push themselves in our face) fascia and window firm still interrupt my peace and quiet every six months to offer me their products. So, too much information is indeed a problem. Google, I am told, have got so much information about every one of us who uses a computer or other communication device, that it would be frightening if we cared. I once looked up a car make and subsequently bought one but the side adverts for that car make still appeared on websites for the next six months. Thoroughly annoying!

So here we are living in this weird world where on one hand so much passes us by that our ignorance grows exponentially every second, while at the same time we are bombarded with information we don’t want. Well, you know that this particular series of articles for ‘Silver Surfers’ tends to highlight the changes the changes we have observed in our lifetimes. Think back fifty or sixty years. No adverts on TV, no cold calling, no information highway, no…. hold on, I’d better not run away with this, I am a fan of the incredible information at our fingertips, being to check out maps online, hotels on line, books online, bookings online and so on and so on. I wouldn’t want to go back to then in that respect and it may be it is because memories tend to be in childhood and they are often so insular that peace and quiet reigned in my little cocoon.

I have a feeling that looking back on my life, I was too busy just coping with life. I remember talk of the Cold War, I can remember vaguely something about a Cuba Crisis – but actually I know about it because I have read about it in subsequent years. Then comes the biggest question of all, does it matter that we didn’t know, was ignorance bliss? I suspect it was.  I also ponder on why I have such an interest in history now, modern history at least – from the First World War onwards.  Is it because I want to catch up on what I missed? I think there is an element of that but I would like to dignify my reading with the thought that maybe I would just like to understand a little more of how we got where we are today.

In the meantime, we learn to live with imperfect information. I find it fascinating to hear those against Brexit declaring that the ‘Out’ campaigned on the absence of information. If that is so, then perhaps one of the greatest choices of modern history was made out of ignorance. (I am told the first referendum about the EU was the same). So far the pundits who prophesied bad news got it wrong, but I accept it is early days yet. Would we do well to set up in a shed at the bottom of our gardens for the remaining years of our lives without any communication links, to quietly let the years pass without a worry or a care? Answers on a postcard please to…..   In the meantime let’s finish as we always do with some quips and quotes, serious and not so serious.  

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.

Mark Twain

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.

Albert Camus

Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.


It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.

Thomas Sowell

I know of no time in human history where ignorance was better than knowledge.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” 

Aldous Huxley

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” 

Daniel J. Boorstin

“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”

John Lennon

“It's an universal law-- intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.” 

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn



Return to top of page