My experience stretches for nearly 90 years, and I see those past times as individual periods. From the end of the First World War until the middle of the 30s, was a time of overcoming the horrors, and retrenchment of the values we had had before. From the mid-30s until WW2, there was a new peace, it was a time of tranquillity, when people were reasonably happy with their lot, and we as a nation felt secure. Then came World War II, and all of that was wiped away and we didn’t really recover until the 1950s, and then again the feeling, as far as I was concerned, was that level of calm and tranquillity that we had had in the mid-30s. This was thrown over almost totally in the 60s by the flower people, who had none of the charm or the beauty of those plants, but introduced us as a nation, to the horrors of drugs, and the relinquishing of the chains which had previously held our society together. The religious ties were no more, and to some extent the social mores were frowned upon as being old hat. After 69, I couldn’t really tell what the atmosphere was in the UK, outside Northern Ireland, as we were too concerned with our own problems.
But what we have today is an underlying, unnoticed fear, which affects our lives from almost birth to old age. We don’t trust people as much as we did, and some of us take extreme security measures to ensure our own safety. We fear new diseases with good reason. Streams of cars, nose to tail, are taking children to school because the parents are afraid. The elderly have special locks on their doors, and to a great extent, batten down the hatches as soon as the sky darkens. Youngsters are carrying knives either from aggression or because of fear, and parents often keep the children within the house at nights, staring at a screen because they’re too afraid to allow them to stroll the streets. Over this 90-year period our standard of living, our comfort, and possibly a large proportion of our incomes have risen, but there is not the relaxed atmosphere that those of us who were lucky to be in the right place at the right time, enjoyed. What concerns me most, is that I cannot foresee the outcome, with our society being fragmented the way it is, being also subjected to considerable psychological adjustments, having our way of life controlled to an unreasonable extent by a new form of government in a foreign country, as all this can overburden many to the point of a high level of frustration, and discontent.
I am probably too old, and too set in my ways to see the future clearly, but that doesn’t stop me expressing my views. Increasing the population, having more large towns and cities, is only aggravating the situation on such a small island. Instead of bringing immigrants in to perform jobs our people seem reluctant to do, it seems to me that as the indigenous population is waning, the jobs are being manufactured to feed technical advancement, such as call centres, the mobile phone, as the need created by advertising, rather than the stable requirements of a contented society.
My regular readers will have found that my output has dropped considerably over the last six weeks. This was for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have to use a magnifying glass for reading print on paper and on the screen, secondly I have had to be careful of my eyes, and thirdly and more importantly, I believe that I have arrived at a point where I am beginning to repeat myself. As my grandmother used to say,’ I am boiling my cabbage twice!’ As I have written something like 500 articles, it will be too tedious to go through them to see if I’ve already made the same comment before, so I rely on my creaking memory, and your forgiveness. The condition of the eyes will not be complete until May or June, when the other eye has been done, and at that time, because I shall have little of my own experience to offer, I will only be writing what I feel is important, and worth the reading. I still have other interests such as painting, writing, illustrating personalised books for my great-grand-children and of course the inevitable gardening, although each year I find I can only do successively less. I just hope you will understand. John