Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Silver Surfer Articles Return to “Silver Surfers”  CONTENTS PAGE Page EIGHTY ONE

So let’s take the easy bit first – the changes in you and me. These are blatantly obvious but with such things, they tend to be matters we take for granted. Sixty years ago I was a teenager; today I am well into my retirement. Sixty years ago I was locked into a pattern of life over which I had little say. I went to school and occasionally wondered about a career one day. In my case the career came by accident. I won’t bore you with the details, but I look back and wonder was it the hand of God, pure blind luck, or what? Life progressed; we grew up and changed. Many of us got married, some very successfully (we’re still at it and still very happy) and some not so successful, and we have the scars that prove it.  Work/careers were good for some, mundane drudgery for others. At the end of it we may have the fruits of a lifetime – or not.  We may have families, grandchildren, good pensions and savings and investments and so life is now as much freedom as our health permits or the demands of the working generation below us to babysit, permit.

But the biggest thing I find in myself, is a desire for a time-machine. I would like to go back and relive some of those earlier years with the knowledge and experience that I have now.  I have experienced an amazing amount in life (you may have experienced far more) and I have learnt a lot. If only I had known it forty years back! Sixty years back I ran, jumped, walked long distances, and didn’t notice it. I sometimes wish someone had told me not to take it all for granted for it would not be the same in sixty years. I can still work in the garden for long hours, but you’ll notice me sitting down and having breaks more often. Endurance today means taking regular rest breaks. I have a feeling that sixty years ago life was full of the moment; today I am appreciative of the moment but spend much more time thinking the big issues of life, where we’re all going, can we do anything about it. I watch the next generation down, plotting and planning and worrying about right schools for the children, what to do in business, where to go on the fourth holiday this year and I smile inwardly and try not to feel too smug as I ponder, it probably won’t work out like that and are you ready for twenty years’ time?

Ok, I know that has barely scratched the surface, but it has perhaps started the little grey cells moving. How about the world round about us? Where does one begin. Back to my garden centre. It wasn’t ‘coffee’ it was ‘latte’. Sixty years ago it was mostly tea but as a child I guess I didn’t drink that much of it. Today the choice of tea types and then the choice of coffee ‘applications’ is something we could never have dreamt of back then. In fact I have a feeling that ‘back then’ we did very little wondering about what the future held, in respect of food or drink at least; we were just grateful for the little we had.

Today I sit and speculate on how soon it will be before technology will create an incredible cup of caramel latte, yes, complete with pattern on top – in five seconds! (instead of having to wait the tedious two minutes. Instant changed to manufactured, but give me good manufactured instantly please!) Yes, today ‘science and technology’ is the thing – and I have dealt with this a while back in the articles 75 to 77 – it’s a mind-boggling realm if you pause to ponder it.

Sixty years ago, we still had the cloud in the setting sky of the past that had been the Second World War. Some of us had been kids then and have the memories to go with it. We are dying out. Others of us, too young to have the memories’ nevertheless have memories of a life that was marked by austerity, and the world of technology had yet to burst on us. We grew up – sometimes aware of it, sometimes not – in the shadow of the Cold War and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust that would end it all. Today that is nowhere near the top of the list of ‘big worries’. In a year when the world has seen a whole variety of ‘natural’ disasters being hailed as the forerunners or an environmental Armageddon, some of us are beginning to hope that the biological and genetic advances that are being hailed as the precursor to life at 150, are wrong. If forecasts of horrifically cold summers and staggeringly hot summers prove anywhere near true, then the future of life on this earth is not going to be all it could be. That also assumes that Artificial Intelligence has not either transformed us into automatons or utterly destroyed us. (see articles 75 to 77 again.)

Not to leave us in gloom and doom, we have observed before that the world is made up of doom-mongers and optimists. The optimists say that there are so many good things being developed today and our scientific control so great, that whatever comes up, we can handle it! Time will tell, but time isn’t necessarily in abundant supply. That has to be a sharpening focus to our thinking that was certainly not there sixty years ago. In our teenage years, life would go on forever.

Part of the ‘awareness process’ thing of later age has, for me at least, been a growing awareness of modern history. I’ve probably used it before but my favourite quote is, “the one thing history teaches us, is that history teaches us nothing.” Earlier in my life, I used to have a great respect for the Law but today, for those who apply it, not so much. There have been too many examples of corruption, injustices etc.

Earlier in my life I didn’t think too much about politicians and as I have read modern history and the more I read their biographies, I realise that here are flawed people, possibly with good intentions at the time, but whose reputations mostly don’t stand up well to scrutiny in the long term. In my lifetime I’ve been into a Welsh coal mine and heard about the quality of life – or lack of it – within the mining communities which made the existence of the Arthur Scargill’s of not surprising. Memories of police versus fighting miners was a blot on our history.

Going further back Winston Churchill was clearly the man for the hour, yet far from a saint according to modern accounts. Margaret Thatcher was either loved or hated, similarly Tony Blair.  Their biographies are revealing, and not always in a good way. When we watch the petty squabbling within Parliament today and, even worse, the activities within the White House in Washington, we should not be surprised. It is an effort not to be cynical in old age as we look on these things, but that simply denigrates us. Being an armchair critic is cheap humanity, and so sometimes the best we can do is speak positively, act kindly, and not let the rest grind us down! (‘Nil carborundom’!) Has history taught us anything? Are we wiser because of the years? Can we still impact for good the world immediately around us? Just some thoughts to ponder over your latte or cappuccino or earl grey or fruit tea. Enjoy.

And to finish a few quotes about history.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Marcus Garvey

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.


Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.

Haile Selassie

You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.

Michelle Obama

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

Robert Kennedy

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