Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Question of Image, Still on my Mind.

The opinion or concept of something that is held by the public.
To be an example or epitome of.

     It's only gradually dawned on me that we cultivate an IMAGE, deliberately or otherwise. We 'see' ourselves in a certain way whether we like it or not. Whether this is the same 'image' others see is interesting in itself. What was it Robert Burns said.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us.
'Two 'instances' have recently brought these thoughts to the fore.
    As recorded in my post July 19th my wife and I (sounds very regal) recently bought a new car. Now what are old couples supposed to drive. Years ago proof of arrival would have been owning a Rover. Nowadays geriatrics who have arrived probably own a Volvo or a Lexus; staid, safe, uninspiring, you get the picture. (Expect howls of protest from owners of either, Grumpy!) Part of this train of thought has come about by the young Seat salesman asking us to put in order our rating of six considerations: Performance, Safety, Reliability, Image, Comfort, Economy; we chose IMAGE!
Plus geriatrics are not supposed to be into: bucket seats, tinted windows, spoiler, stripes, sports gearing and suspension; turbo chargers and superchargers. So what did we specify our purchase must have? You've got it: bucket seats, tinted windows, spoiler, stripes, sports gearing and suspension; turbo charger and supercharger.
    Now what does this tell you?  Grumpy is not very keen to accept the limitations of growing old He certainly has no desire to grow old gracefully. He's not too keen on conformity (He never was) and he'll go out of his way to 'buck the system' so to speak. In general, he loves to be different, he has a 'tongue in cheek' somewhat irreverent  view of life and it shows! All very harmless, bordering on daft for daft's sake. In a way it's playing at or up to an IMAGE. Except that this image thing, however subtle, however unconscious is more important than you think.
    I went to a wedding recently. The groom is a military man, a serving soldier; also present were several of his military colleagues. It would be unprofessional to identify them further. They were uniformed, superbly turned out, immaculate men, young yet hardened, seasoned campaigners, men who would be proud to defend you in times of strife. They were lively, noisy at times but no matter, they epitomised the joy of living particularly associated with youth.  And then it all went a little 'haywire' to say the least. The soldiers and friends became involved in a 'drinking contest' that went too far, too long. The competitive drinking of 'shots' (Someone please explain to one old man, what exactly do 'shots' consist of) resulted in one ill, and I mean very ill groom; dangerous in the extreme. Yet no-one in the group itself saw the dangers and attempted to curtail the contest. As a geriatric observer I reckon I know why.
   Its an IMAGE thing. All involved saw themselves as 'macho', individuals, male of course, answerable to no-one. Part and parcel of an elite group within society, invincible and so on.  (the regiment's motto suggesting invincibility was uttered whenever a participant struggled to complete the 'downing' of yet another 'shot'.) All totally insane yet understandable to this old bystander.  In other words, the participants of such a sad pastime were merely conforming to the IMAGE they believed was expected of them.
    I am lucky enough to have followers from all over the world. And I bet you they all are have image 'problems' to a greater or lesser degree. A member of the WI or Mothers Union? Do you see yourself as an upstanding member of your community; useful, hardworking, caring and compassionate? Or maybe you are a councillor, or even a county councillor. Someone everyone looks up to, someone who is important and has definitely 'arrived'. You might be a member of the professions,  in which case you probably don't even have to try, you already are sure of your personal superiority. Pity the poor devil who digs holes in the road for a living. He's probably one of the best blokes in the world and nobody notices.

    People are strange in the extreme and not always funny ha ha with it. I have a cousin who I seldom see. For years whenever I met him, usually at family functions, his first question to me was 'How much do you earn.' How strange is that! I  knew of a young man from a poor part of Derby who moved to a nicer area a few miles out of town. One of his first actions on moving was to step outside his new house and offer to fight anyone in his new neighbourhood. I have a friend from the 'south' who, of an evening,  changes clothes before sitting down for an evening meal. (I realise that commenting on such things makes 'us up north' seem working class in the extreme but I suspect remnants of the class system and all that means are still firmly with us.) 
    We all adhere to an IMAGE whether we like it or not. So how do you see yourself? And do you like what you see? But more important, how do others see you? 

Friday, 9 August 2013


    Anyone who knows me well is aware any email I send always carry the 'monica' Life. Thats what its all about, this 'existence, time on earth, this earthly adventure', call it what you will. We live and we die, simple. Some believe in more, but I tell you, if there's a God up there, he's taking the micky, having a laugh. You will grasp I guess from the tone of this post it been yet another 'funny old week'.
    My leg surgery is not going too well. Slow, painful with little progress in spite of the physiotherapy, I'm bloody fed up. I put on a brave face in the main, but even septuagenerians need reassurance at times. I try not to be mardy (do you use the word mardy down your way) but I confess I've been fed up  recently. But then I noticed the date.
    This week would have been my mothers birthday;  she died in 1953 aged forty seven. I've lived for seventy three very eventful years and I'm moaning. My mother died at forty seven, worn out through no fault of her own. I bet she was fed up at times but I never heard her moaning. She deserved so much more from life. My only regret in life is that she did not live longer so that I, being older, could have done more for her. It was 'payback time' that never materialised.
    On occasion I try to remember 'life with mother', but always with great difficulty. I certainly revolved around myself at the time of my mothers death. Are boys particularly prone to living in a world of their own I wonder? At times I cringe as to how preoccupied I was at the age of thirteen. Everyone of us has different experiences as we grow up.  These have some say, however subconscious in way we turn out, so to speak. I remember my mother in part for Little Miss Muffet Junkets. Also for the fact that she constantly emitted a 'humming noise' when she worked. An unconscious habit which I inherited; I am amused, many are mildly irritated.

'There was no greater love in my life than my mother. But it was a love not based on kisses and cuddles. Mary, my mother was far too busy, and often far too exhausted to show maternal affection in an everyday family sense. That she loved my sister and me was never in doubt. But a constant round of cleaning for various well to do families in the village, plus hours in between as a school cook was all consuming. Add ironing, home cooking, clothes mending and shopping and it was obvious that the burden was awesome in the extreme. On my mother’s death certificate, at the age of forty-seven it read, ‘cause of death, pneumonia’. It would have been more honest had it read ‘death due to overwork’.
There appeared in the Derby Evening Telegraph, on the 10th of September the stark notice informing of my mother’s death.
Stevens. Sept 8th 1953 at 24 The Ridings Ockbrook. Mary Elizabeth aged 47 years, widow of the late Ernest Stevens. Funeral at the Moravian Church on Friday at 3pm.
Neither my sister nor I attended our mother’s funeral; a statement that could be taken by the uninformed to suggest indifference, or lack of respect. The truth is we were not invited. Someone in their wisdom decided that a mother’s funeral was no place for children of eleven and thirteen. We were not asked our opinion, nor were the subjects of death, funerals or life thenceforth ever discussed. If they were, they were lost in the dreamlike haze that hung over me for many, many days, if not months that followed. I have no recollection of what I did that afternoon, but in a way that was the day I grew up.'
(From A Childhood Revisited"