It’s not necessary for us oldies to understand everything that goes on in the modern world, but one doesn’t want to live life in a state of total confusion. We have little Tuk Tuks for tourists round our way which seem to me to be more useful and more fun that Tik Tok, but then what do I know?
I keep getting little notifications that pop up on my computer, Now I grant you, I am not the most sympathetic person In the world, even my best friends will tell you that it is no good complaining to me about a cold as I belong to the ‘Oh come on, pull yourself together’ school of medicine, but even so why do I get a message saying ‘You May Like’ followed a news story of some hideous tragedy such as a toddler crushed by a lorry or a pensioner hacked to death with a machete. Just what sort of person do they think I am? Very perplexing.
If you write a book, before you send it to a publisher you can employ the services of a Sensitivity Reader – it will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me to read that I am unclear as to what they do. My guess would be that will point out to you that you don’t have enough women/ethnic minority/disabled/gay or lesbian characters. If you’ve written the book it is possible that you may have noticed this yourself. I’m pretty sure that Jane Austen didn’t have a sensitivity reader to inform her of all these faults in her books and they’d certainly never get published today. And as far as I can see actors are now only allowed to play themselves. Obviously, you can’t play someone of a different colour or sex, or sexuality any more, can you? If you are able bodied can you play someone with a disability? What about playing someone older – isn’t that ageist? Or putting on/taking off weight for a part – fattist/thinnist – are these words? I’ve just asked Geoffrey (Google) and apparently it is Sizeism! Who knew? Appropos of that I recently heard a very irritating woman on Radio 4, with one of those condescending Nanny voices, talking to the nation about weight loss. Apparently, she is one of the Government’s highly paid Obesity Advisors and she came up with the revolutionary thought that eating too much will make you put on weight and that exercise is good for you. If only we’d known this life would have been so different!
Time was when everyone was very uptight and rules were strict. Homosexuality was illegal. When I was young pornography was very much behind closed doors. Most girls were either virgins (or at least professed to be) when they married. Children born out of wedlock were illegitimate and a cause of great shame within a family. There were homes for unmarried mothers! Then came the swinging sixties and life became a lot more liberal. We had page 3 girls and Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the pill. Life changed when our generation invented sex and drugs and rock and roll. I had a flat in Chelsea and we genuinely believed that we were the first people to enjoy fun and freedom. I walked around in a fog as despite being extremely short-sighted we were warned that ‘Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses’ and as far as I remember despite Women’s Lib my one ambition was that men should make passes at me. Luckily for us despite men in those days not knowing their boundaries we wore such impenetrable underwear that we were mostly pretty safe. Anyone who is old enough to remember the joys of the panty girdle or roll on will know what I mean. If getting into it was difficult, getting out of it was well nigh impossible and any man trying to undress you was liable to end up with a dislocated thumb. The Pill may have been around but you had to buy a wedding ring from Woolworth’s and invent a husband before you could have any form of contraception and as far as I know the pill was only for married women.
It’s all change now. Girls run around half naked – I bet none of them own a vest. I read that in the north of England on cold nights girls rub themselves down with Deep Heat rather than spoil their look by wearing a coat. So, despite putting everything on display men are only supposed to window shop. It must be very confusing for young men. We seem to be becoming a nation with secret lives where Page 3 girls and nudie calendars are forbidden but I regularly get asked to look at a website of ‘Hot Asian Babes’ – I may be confused but I think the computer is just as confused as it seems to believe that I am a cold-hearted, sexually active man! As for free speech – does Speaker’s Corner still exist? I think so, but I very much doubt that it is the bastion of outlandish views that it once was. Islington seems to dictate what we are allowed to think and therefore say. As Voltaire apparently didn’t say – I think it was one of his friends expressing his beliefs – “I wholly disapprove of what you say—but will defend to the death your right to say it.” We have to agree with that surely. I’m not entirely sure exactly what JK Rowling said, but It doesn’t really matter. If you disagree with her you don’t have to buy her books. There was a film many years ago called Fahrenheit 451 set in a dystopian world where books were banned – the title coming from the temperature at which books burned. When it came out it echoed Hitler’s Germany – and we all know where that led. I recently learnt about Virtue Signalling which is apparently the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue. It is noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things.
Young minds may be able to keep up with the changes but I haven’t got a hope. Every time I turn round something is different. Take spelling for example – if someone, in a text, spells Your for You’re – is this ironic? Fat fingers? Auto-correct? Ignorance? How am I supposed to know? My inner pedant longs to criticise but this is not the way to make friends and almost certainly my own fat fingers/auto-correct would turn my perfectly formed, literate text into gobbledygook
And to return to a more flippant subject there is a ad on television at the moment for fabric conditioner which claims that it will remove smells from your room and your furniture and will allow you to wear your clothes for another day! In my view that would be the most effective deterrent for unwanted passes yet invented.
Finally, and this may be a bit niche, but almost the worst thing about this whole pandemic is that they are discussing toe-curling sex on the Archers. No! No! No! It is just wrong. They should be discussing the harvest and jam making.