More moons ago than I care to remember, there was a childhood….although in my case, it wasn’t about Little Red Riding Hood and a thousand other fables. During the austerity that followed the Second World War, I remember little or nothing about fabulous things beyond Bonfire Night, Christmas Morning and Baby Jesus meek and mild who died for us on a Cross. He died on that Cross without a City Wall, which always put me in mind of a social centre so poor, it couldn’t afford walls.
Childhood is largely about an ability to misunderstand what the adults are on about. My mother had three sisters, and in the afternoon of the 25th the extended family all went to N° 50 Smedley Lane (where they’d been brought up by a guardian) for nibbles and drinkies while the Turkey (electricity supply willing) was quietly cooking itself in the back-to-back oven at home.
The eldest sibling Edna (whose sudden appearance as a foetus had brought about my maternal grandmother’s marriage in the first place during 1909) always used this gathering to get a few sherries down her neck and gossip about her mother Melinda’s Bloomsbury Group Free Love propensities.
This would cause second sister Phyllis to giggle and assert, “Doesn’t our Mildred look like the Queen?” The Mildred in question – my mother, always known as Mickey – was alleged to have been the product of naughtiness between between Melinda (a concert pianist) and George V. In truth, none of the dates fit to turn this daft idea into even vague accuracy, but the rumour persisted.
Third sister Myra – my favourite Auntie as a child because her grip on the cliff of reality was rarely beyond feeble – could be relied upon to lower the tone by wishing everyone “a Merry kiss-me-arse”, as her husband Harry Towle cringed in a corner and declared “Now Myra, there’s a limit even if this is Christmas”.
The guardian concerned was Lilly Mellor, whose husband Francis had succumbed to bladder cancer in 1952. My brother and I adored his avuncular ease with children and acceptance of an Orange-Green marriage without question. Cut off by the de Trafford wing of his family for marrying ‘Mill Girl Lill”, he built another pile in his own right as a menuisier (cabinet maker) during which time he sliced his thumb off in an accident at work. As an unsocialised 3 year old, I apparently asked where his thumb was, and uncle Frank said “I lost it”. Ever after until his death, he and went on serious safari in search of his lost thumb.
This is what I mean by childhood being a period of 24/7 misunderstanding, and in many kids I’m sure it’s the uncertainty that drives the need to discover via reading, education and – sadly these days – television, movies and social media. Here in Gambia, I just finished a relationship with a young woman who only found out about sex (disgracefully, her guardian told her nothing) by watching a video on You Tube. Equally disturbing is the growing number of those currently under thirty who have found stuff out purely from the media, and really are profoundly confused about how real or otherwise those media accounts are. This has opened up a whole new vista for propagandists….and a near-totally gullible generation unable much of the time to discern truth from fiction.
Each person’s childhood is his or hers alone, stored behind a million brain synapses, and occasionally visible as an injury either physical or mental. The problem with childhood is, you can’t bring it back. One can examine the media programming of the time of course, but on doing so we are made instantly aware of how, even back then, the content was the work of the degreed élites. I don’t remember any documentaries about climbing trees, fishing for sticklebacks, playing French cricket against a lamppost and daring attempts to abuse the operator in public telephone boxes (“Is that the operator on the line? Gerroff quick, there’s a train coming”).
A lot of socio-political positions were accepted by nearly all voters regardless of Party: pride in the NHS, Church on Sundays, no sex before marriage, free education, a mixed economy, social mobility, trade union strength and a belief that science would, for sure, make the future better than the past.
In fact, scientific advance has been variously overclaimed, perverted, misrepresented and used to hugely curtail free speech and monitor behaviour among the People rather than protect them from such things. With the advent of global monopolism in business, political control through central banking power and widespread voter cynicism about “honesty” among politicians has come probably the major advance of our lifetimes – the digital internet in general and portable telcoms that have, at a stroke, made cameras, fixed phone lines and (increasingly) pc driven email seem dated.
A huge dilution of both (a)educational depth and (b) the questioning of all shibboleths is exacerbating citizen distraction as a problem thanks to the arrival of diabolical smartphones that are both highly addictive, controlled by the corporacratic State and an ideal “stealth spook” being developed to make it the only future means of access to food, water, digital fiat currency, welfare, travel access.
For that majority of the population who think that Fiat Currency was Car of the Year in 1992, all these features of a grave new world have gone unnoticed….as indeed has the obvious fact that they’re being fed a diet of propaganda. All the Germans, Dutch and French here, for example, are starved of information about the parlous state of their economies, and over 75% put Britain’s debt problem down to Brexit.
Remember: this is a small, poor West African State, but today everyone above homeless beggar level has a smartphone.
In probably no more than 25 years, it will be possible to persuade pretty much everyone born in this century that the New World Order created the smartphone to give its citizens automatic “help” with every one of life’s travails – health, work, welfare, whatever – and it is a mortal sin to see The DemiGods as anything but a 24/7 philanthropic operation that does everything for us, such that life is beautiful all the time.
A year ago, I suggested at The Slogpage Rescuing the Past that popular music from the period 1955-97 would still exist outside of digital storage and be capable of reproduction via CDs….and importantly, could display via the lyrics of The Who, The Kinks, The Beatles and The Eagles that there was indeed life – and the desire for independent freedom – long before Onkel Klaus materialised in order to suggest otherwise.
Now more than ever, it is vital that we save the past from destruction by all means possible. Interview wrinklies, retired luvvies and mutualist financial management. Mine the memories of real conviction politicians. And keep it all in physical, age-resistant vacuum parcels with clear instructions to younger generation family members where it can be found in the event of your demise.
Seven years ago I wrote about The Everly Brothers as follows:
‘There is far more to innocence than sexual purity based on that odd pre-pubertal time of life. In my case, it meant an erroneous belief that when two people said ‘forever’, they meant it. This was a form of naivety founded on my desire for childhood to be an infinite state….a need for certainty that a word, once given, would not lead to a broken heart. Life isn’t like that: we’re all human, we all have drives and frailties, and we all do stuff that – whatever we might admit in public – stabs us with the pain of guilt in private. My pet hate as a put-down is “grow up”. Growing up, unfortunately, leads to a loss of that innocently pledged love we can never quite regain. The singing duo in my lifetime that came closest to bottling and thus preserving the melancholy of such pledges was the Everly Brothers’.
It’s far too easy to dismiss nostalgia as pointless. If you seek (as I do) to give future adults a sense of what tender humanity is, then nostalgia can be weaponised in the continuing battle against Nosforatu.
John Ward believes that the plodding engineer Klaus Schwab is an idiot if he thinks almost everyone having nothing is the natural order of things for Homo sapiens. But it is a fact that the UK was a more successful, peaceful and profitable national unit – with much higher cultural satisfaction scores during the high taxation years of 1948-79 – than at any time before or since. Schwab’s potty equation of happiness with owning nothing (while he and his cronies own everything) is a case of delusional socio-economic theory masquerading as ‘equality stakeholding’. But the ideologically altered history hiding behind his confection puts the onus on the Resistance to preserve and publicise real history in order to reveal him as the hypocritical fake he is.