Actually today I AM sixty five. That means I get an old age pension superannuated. I’m one of the baby boomers. We’re now a drain on the rest of society. We paid into ‘the system’ for forty years or more but…
Isn’t it interesting the way that the media commentators twist things to put us in the wrong. Their scheming and embezzlements that should be frowned upon are ignored. They disinform about the generation who spent their youth dismantling the malefic control system built up in the fifties and early sixties. I don’t think the powers that were liked us much. They accuse us now of all the bad things they did. We refused to conform en mass. No generation did that before. We shrugged it all off and started again. Not very well perhaps but we tried. To have lived through it was exciting. We got stomped on but it was worth it. We took the control freaks by surprise and they have been on the back foot ever since. Their empire is crumbling and wont survive.
Being old in England means you can be rude and it’s excused immediately because you are a grumpy old man. That’s fun and it works in New Zealand too. I told a demanding client who wanted something done asap that I wasn’t into busyness any more, he should learn to chill. I must be old then although I don’t feel it, especially here where you aren’t considered old until your at least eighty. If I lived in America I would be a senior whatever that means but they don’t like to mention it because they don’t do age. It frightens them. I got into serious trouble when I lived there. I never got the hang of speaking in euphemisms.
I called a lady who was visiting here from Hawaii old. She went absolutely ballistic even though she was over seventy. She was also short and fat. I don’t hold back when I’m helping someone who’s stuck in fear. Anger can be a positive emotion and is a very useful tool to move someone forwards when they’re stuck. It is much quicker than being nice to them. Many years of workshops and processes hadn’t done a thing but anger did. To her by far the biggest insult was calling her old. She had a fit. She’s very happy now but I don’t think she enjoyed the experience even though she had asked for it. The funny thing is that you don’t have to do anything to be old, it just happens. By galactic standards I’m still a child so it’s all relative.
One thing I can say, because I notice things, is that all you youngsters especially generation X’ers have some surprises waiting around the corner. After many years of texting, very fast, your opposable thumbs will probably stop working. But who am I to spoil the surprise? Those who should wont listen and they will find out eventually. Hopefully by that time it wont matter. Time as I say is tricky and I can remember other lifetimes more easily than what I did yesterday. Time is all at once.
My earliest memory in this lifetime was of being behind bars. I didn’t enjoy the experience I was in a cot and wailed the place down. I must have been about two or three, I had no nappy, I remember that but was small enough to need a cot. That was in the early fifties. I was in hospital having a hernia repaired. They were very strict back then. I thought I had swallowed some glass which is what I remember saying. We were on the beach and it was quite a walk to the car and I had to be carried because I passed out. Now why can’t I remember any of the good things. My first teddy bear perhaps, I remember him but he came a year or so later.
There were steam trains still running when I walked to my first school. It was a mile or two away and we walked around completely unsupervised. There were two ways to get to the town: Across the fields was my favorite but more hazardous with ponds, dogs, sheep and cows and other animals in the way. The other way was on the footpaths next to but away from the main road and took longer. It depended on the time of year. If the ponds were frozen I needed to check to see if it was thick enough to walk on but it usually wasn’t and I ended up muddy and wet. I fell into a lot of ponds. I also managed to lasso a sheep. My young friend and I had been watching westerns. Sheep may not be bright but they are very strong and dragged us both quite a long way before stopping. We did get the lasso off but didn’t do it again. I glad we didn’t try for a bullock which was our original intention.
In summer it was shadier walking up the main hill. It was a very small town way out in the country but you wouldn’t do it today. It’s dangerous to cross the road now which we did about half way down because the path crossed sides. It did that intelligently on a blind corner. We didn’t live far enough away to catch the bus which only picked up kids from the surrounding villages. I sort of envied them. It was an experience I never had. Most of their parents didn’t have cars because only rich people and doctors did. Doctors visited sick people in those days not the other way around. My dad was a doctor but only had cheap cars, and he always wanted a convertible. That meant he had little choice and he always bought a Morris 1000. He did that until they stopped making them. We used to walk down a very steep hill then up over a hump backed bridge that went across the railway. It was a thrill at speed on a bicycle or a motor bike. When in the dip just before the bridge you had no vision of the other side which had a junction just at the end of the bridge. Cars pulled out across the road and they couldn’t see you which made it rather interesting.
In those days the train had two lines and a siding beside the sheep and cattle market. It’s single track now with passing places at the station and there are no sidings. There is a path on the road side of the bridge but it was very narrow and there was another path suspended on the outer side hanging there in space. It was safer but for me it was much more fun. It was suspended with metal supports and wire tread which was just right for standing waiting for the steam engine to go underneath. It did but not very often. There was a crossing that we could see not far way and when it closed we knew a train was coming. The crossing was manual then which meant a person sat there all day and did it. It was all very exciting and noisy as the train belched steam and thick dark smoke underneath us.
We had a radio but didn’t have television until I was much older perhaps eight or nine. Black and white and only one channel that came on at 5 pm and went off again at 11. It was all live and otherwise showed a test card. By the time I was about fourteen we had two more channels to choose from but they were snowy or very snowy depending on the weather. We were a long way from the transmitter and the aerial was home made pointing hopefully at rather a weak signal.
I had frogs and badgers and endless fields and woods but no computers. I’m making up for that now but as with any choice if you can’t decide it’s safer to choose both.
At eighteen I went to college in Southampton and I saw my first automatic door. I was impressed, it was just like Star Trek and even made a whooshing noise. I was studying cartography and there was a lot of maths. There weren’t any electric or electronic calculators. There was a huge main frame computer in a clean room that we couldn’t even enter. I don’t know who did but they had to wear white coats and thick glasses and carried clipboards. They never looked up and I never saw them out of the room, perhaps they’re still in there. It had big glass windows and we could look in but it wasn’t very interesting.
We used mechanical calculators with whirling gears for our 3D trigonometrical calculations. I usually got mine wrong because I got bored and forgot how many turns I’d made. It had a handle you turned one way to add and multiply and the other to subtract and divide. Doing calculus like that took a long time. That is not really that long ago, less than fifty years.
A very extravagant friend spent over a hundred pounds on a red LED calculator for his degree course. It had sines and cosines etc and was very advanced with 16 digits on the readout. That would have been in about 1980. He loaned it to me occasionally so that I could compute the traverses I observed. I am dyslexic and that is not very useful when you are a surveyor. My errors were always a metre, ten or a hundred metres and easy enough to find. I usually got the millimeters right but would transpose the larger figures. I wasn’t supposed to check by computing what I’d done but he was my immediate boss and kind. It saved embarrassment, both his and mine. He told me to pace the length of the legs to check but I was too shy to tell him I couldn’t actually do that because I can’t count that high without getting muddled!
I ignored all the early crappy home computers. I wasn’t into programming, I was into art and music. I bought a Mac but had to wait until around 1990. It was second hand and had no hard drive just two floppy ports a nine inch screen but it was heaven. I could do all sorts. I had found my medium even if it was rather pixilated when printed out.
I later worked right on the cutting edge and designed the interface and the company I co-founded, built the first music streaming system for smart phones. By 2002 it worked on 3G. That was before most telcos even had 3G networks. The phones certainly weren’t very smart. All our ideas, e-commerce, music and live video streaming are commonly used on phones today. But that’s the trouble with being an Aquarian – you are simply years ahead of everybody else. I was ready for telepathic computers twenty five years ago. I am still waiting but now I’m also waiting for my replicator, teleports and a holographic computer that is also a phone and fits on my wrist. Fortunately they wont be long.
The noise of social revolution will eventually fade and then we will all be ready to go. What I experience now is an end of all the waiting. Unfortunately not many other people have noticed – at least not yet.