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Silver Surfer Articles
25.  This Wonderful World

I suspect that Autumn is a season that is especially equated with the later years period of life. It’s a time of changing colours and retreating life.  Passing retirement age, I found produced a profound change in thinking within me – as I presume it does in most of us ‘silver surfers’. In the past month I’ve noticed things (retirement is a time of noticing things I’ve increasingly realised) that  resulted in me finding myself humming  Louis Armstrong’s song from back in the 1960’s, ‘What A Wonderful World’, written I believe by songwriters: George David Weiss, Bob Thiele (as George Douglas). Just to remind you, here it is:
I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do, They're really saying I love you. 

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow,  They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world,  Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Well seeing it on cold print, I don’t think it does justice to the sentiment that came over through his singing and, even more, I’m not sure you could put those song writers in the category of ‘super-observant’ when it comes to assessing our world.   I know I’ve written on similar things before, but this brings together several of them.

A short while ago my wife requested that we all go away as a whole family to celebrate her special ‘retirement birthday’ and so all the family dutifully turned up and we stayed – four couples plus five grandchildren - in a house in Southwold for a few days. The first hit in respect of this ‘wonderful world awareness’ came as we stood on the seafront near the nice little pier in a strong wind but clear blue sky and sunshine. I found myself just standing there looking at the sea and the sky going, “Wow, that’s amazing.” Some days later, back at home, wandering in my garden I have repeated that as I have been amazed at the amount of colour that there is at this time of the year. Autumn and Nature are indeed amazing.

But then we were sitting around one afternoon and I realised that each of the young men had an iPhone and an iPad and they were each on their iPad, comparing photos taken that morning. The phones had been used to take the pictures and had automatically transferred them to their pads for storage and viewing. I’m old enough to be able to remember the old Kodak box camera (yes, I AM old!!!) and the years of carefully winding off the film and taking it to Boots for printing. I dread to think how many photos they each came home with from those few days – and the quality!!!

Then the other day our washing machine broke down. It was an old machine and had been mended under warranty a number of times decades ago. It was time we quietly let it die. We had saved money for such a contingency so I went on line, scanned I’m not sure how many machines, complete with specifications and prices and placed an order. It arrived the next day. I didn’t leave my house. It’s a new day!

And then I had to go into hospital for a new knee. A hundred years ago I would have just remained a cripple. Now I spent two and a half days in hospital and am back home on crutches with the local surgery lined up to remove my staples in two weeks, a visit to the physio line up at the hospital in three weeks, and a nice lady from the Hospital Rehab Unit ringing to check that I’m all right after my time under the surgeon’s knife. My goodness, what a good day to be alive!

The fact that the exhibition, “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Mila” has just opened in London brought to memory an experience I had when once wandering around an art gallery. I don’t know why it happened then, but suddenly I was aware of the incredible abilities of the various painters whose works I was observing. I stood there almost drunk with the wonder of these works. As I said, I’m sure I’ve spoken of this before, but this brings it all together.

So there it is: a glorious world of nature, an amazing world of technology, an incredible world of medicine, and the amazing creative abilities we can see in the human race. There may be a lot of things wrong with our world and with our society, but there isn’t half some good stuff to be thankful for as well, but poor old Louis’s song writers didn’t know the half of it. Anyone want to start composing something new?