Monday, 3 November 2008

Where Were You When it Happened?

The Armistices of Two World Wars are in the news this time of year and rightly so. There are people who will remember exactly where they were as they were announced, in 1918 and again in 1945. Even the second is not within my memory although I do remember VE Day celebrations quite vividly. Which set me thinking, how many events in life do we remember for whatever reason. Not the everyday events thrown at us on life's long journey, but those unique, special one offs never to be repeated. It would be easy to browse through an almanac of world events but that would be cheating. For if we have to look it up, so to speak, has it really been implanted forever on our hearts.
I remember as a child a teacher coming into a classroom (I can remember which particular classroom and the teacher's name, Mr Jones.) and announcing that a man called Gandhi had been killed. We did not know of a man called Gandhi, or for that matter where India was but the word assassinated intrigued.
How many remember where they were when John F Kennedy's assassination was announced. I was outside my grandmothers in Ockbrook, Derbyshire, tinkering with a vehicle when someone came outside to announce the news. Yet I am unsure as to which vehicle was involved. Surely I haven't imagined so important a moment in history? I certainly didn't imagine being told of Elvis's death whilst on holiday with the children in Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire. The whole campsite was full of the news for hours if not days; nothing much ever happens in Chapel. In fact this is one of the few memories of the place retained more than twenty four hours. (Though childhood memories of Chapel are positive if unexciting, at least in adult eyes.)
Being a retired person with nothing better to do I was idly watching the news at home when the events of 9/11 unfolded on the TV screen. Transfixed I watched for hours as the sheer horror and importance of the event became apparent. History in the making, who wouldn't remember for ever such an awesome event.
My wife and I sat in a garage on Harvey Road in Derby when the sensational, sad news was announced on the radio that Princess Diana had been killed in a road accident. I even remember where we were going, to Wirksworth to buy a dog grate for the fireplace and then on to Chesterfield. I am not a Royalist so why should this event be so firmly imprinted in my mind?
It is a fact now that almost any event in the world can now be reported at very short notice indeed. Tsunamis, plane crashes, wars, disasters in general blur into each other; we are so bombarded with the worlds terrors and tribulations. Is it that we are fascinated by the dramatic or the morbid, for many of our memories involve death and destruction.
When I was a schoolboy capital punishment was still the norm in this country. Some murderers were hanged. At eight in the morning in London, nine o'clock elsewhere I seem to remember. I, and some other schoolmates were undoubtedly morbidly fascinated, to the extent that we would knowingly glance at the clock if it were a nine o'clock 'happening'.
It is virtually impossible to escape world events almost as they happen. But why do some events burn into our psyche more than others. I don't remember where I was for instance, when it was announced that John Lennon had been shot. What do you remember? Put it another way, to paraphrase Hal David and Burt Bacharach's 1960's song, 'What's it all about, Alfie.'


Mad Asthmatic said...

I was at work when the news about 9/11 started to seep through, I remember it vividly as my father was visiting Washington DC and had meetings in the Pentagon during his trip. You can imagine the tense couple of days my mother and I had.
Princess Diana - again the news came through on a Sunday morning, I had old school friends staying over as we had had a summer holiday reunion the evening before.
Was in hospital when the Iraq war started - I can remember it clearly, watching CNN in the middle of night as I couldn't sleep.
Why I remember these events I think are more to do with the personal situation I was in, the events have become like a prompt to my own memories.
Is it not human nature to have morbid curiousity?

Mad Asthmatic

Stinking Billy said...

Ken, you couldn't have asked anybody worse than me for technical help - I suck! However, as luck would have it, I can explain to you how to embed a link.

1. Copy your draft post into 'Manage Posts', ready for publication. Save it.

2. Go to the page, wherever it is, you wish to link with and copy its url (address) at the top, by 'right-clicking' the mouse.

3. Back to Manage Posts and type in 'here' at the point where you wish to insert the link. Drag-highlight 'here'.

4. Scroll to the top of your draft and see the toolbar immediately above. Click on the 'apple-like' symbol 5th (from the left) and it will open.

5. Delete the http:// because you already have that in the url you copied. Right-click and 'paste' the url in.

6. Scroll back down to the insertion point and 'here' should be 'live'. Click on it and you should be taken to the linked page.

Ken, hopefully, the pidgin English should suit you rather than the more technical instruction you would surely get from anybody else that I know. ;-) Best of luck, mate. Up the Rams!

P.S. You might get this twice because it didn't appear on my first attempt to publish it.

Stinking Billy said...

Ken, I'm back already. Your timing was immaculate because I am not usually this slack (as Alice might have said).

First, I am amazed to find how many links you already have in your posts? Never mind, but personally I rarely look into more than one link per post. Too diversionary and time-consuming.

You state somewhere that you like to think that you blog for posterity, for your grandchildren, etc, to read long after you've gone. Fine, so do I, but verbosity doesn't attract readers, nor do long lists (Knowledge Comes, etc) of quiz questions.

To attract readers (and their comments) you need to get out and about reading the blogs of others and leaving comments. That doesn't guarantee great results but it does let them know of your existence. It is called networking or marketing in the trade. You will eventually develop a list, or circle, as I call it, of bloggers you call on and who reply. My circle is only 20 strong so I do well to average over 20 visiting bloggers per day and 9 comments per post.

I tend to mix up my subject matters, from daily happenings (as with a diary), current events, old memories and personal thoughts, etc, as I guess you will, whereas others like carers for their autistic children, for example, find great comfort and help in forging much bigger circles of bloggers with similar problems. Their hits can run into hundreds.

A few people are literally writing books on their blog, and they have followers who look forward to each episode.

So, you pays your money and you makes your choice. It may take a little while before the comments start rolling in with any regularity, but who's in a mad rush?

You writing is very good and very interesting, if a little too drawn-out at times. At least intersperse your posts with fairly short, punchy ones. Humour is a great help and you appear to have that.

That's about it, old friend, and welcome to a wonderful pastime, Stay in touch.


Stinking Billy said...

Okay, Ken, my fault - the list of bloggers on our sidebars are indeed links, and I should have guessed.

Click on 'Layout' in Dashboard or Manage Posts.

In Layout, click on 'Add a new gadget.' A new box will appear, type into the form the name, e.g. My Links or Blogs I Follow. Hit Save at the bottom of the page.

Go and get a url (say mine) and go back and paste it into the new form (again after first deleting the existing http://). Also type in the name stinkingbilly.

The entry should then appear at the head of the new alphabetical you are creating.

Hit Save, and you are off and running. Simply add others in the same way - but you *must* always remember to save each time. You can delete or edit entries at any time. I have just added you to mine this morning.

You don't need to ask people for permission, you are simply saying who your favourites are, so why should they com[plain?

Clippy Mat said...

I'm enjoying reading your blog Ken, and I'm certain you're not that grumpy.
Thanks for posting a comment on my friend's new blog the other day. I have just got it up and running for her.
You brought back memories with this blog and also with the mention of that great old song, What's it all about, Alfie? One of my old time favourites.
I'll be back.

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