Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


I have been watching the series by Andrew Marr called “The Making of Modern Britain”. It covers the lifetimes of my parents and myself. It is very interesting to see how individuals are generally unaware of the forces influencing their society. If Andrew Marr is right, then the 50’s and 60’s were shaped by people resentful of direction by authorities and demanding that their voice be heard. As the child of middle class parents and educated at a public school I knew nothing of such people or such thoughts. The programme suggests to me that I was an unconscious adherent of the system against which they revolted. I am judged, by a commentator perhaps forty years younger than me, to have been ignorant and out of touch.

Am i still out of touch? Are there forces now shaping our society that i instinctively ignore or reject. I remember being shocked at a national honour being given to The Beatles. Am I doing the same now? There are activities that seem ludicrous to me but perhaps have some worthy origin or are a protest against older values, no longer accepted. Take the massive expressions of grief when there is some tragedy (big or small) and the fields of flowers laid at the site. Everybody regrets these events, but rushing out to lay flowers seems ostentatious to me. It seems to be connected with a need for emotional expression and the constant display of inner feelings.

Perhaps some Andrew Marr of the future will regard my habit of emotional restraint as harmful. He will argue, maybe, that it gives society false information about the attitudes of ordinary people. I can see the point of that argument but still dislike the excesses. Are they in some cases an instant reaction that enables one to do the fashionable thing and thus be absolved from any practical action? Are they a substitute for serious thought and therefore rather superficial?

I worry also about the present obsession with ‘human interest’. There are frequent interviews with those acquainted with some victim or missing person in which the subject is spoken of as loved and lovable and altogether Saint-like when he/she was probably as full of faults as the rest of us. is this a reaction against an older culture of personal reserve in which one said little and allowed one’s actions to speak? Will an Andrew Marr fourty years from now write of folk like me as blinkered and out of touch? What am I missing and how do I find out?

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