2017 minus 10: Things present

Posted: 22 December 2016 in 2017 minus

Yesterday, I wondered what had happened to some things that used to play a daily or weekly part in my life that, for various reasons, no longer do.

In some cases, they play no part in anyone’s life any more; in others, they were more personal. The choice of Livejournal as my then blogging platform led me into experiences and avenues I’d not have gone along had I chosen blogger, say. That’s not to say Livejournal was better or worse than blogger, or blogspot… just different.

But today, some things I do, or things I experience, that only ten years ago would have just… not happened. None of them are inconceivable; it’s just for reasons of time, technology and personal preference, I’d never have foreseen them happening to me.

Christmas Christmas was never A Thing for me growing up. I’m Jewish, and so it just never played any part in my life; the closest we had to a Christmas Tradition was the whole family going around to my maternal grandparents on Boxing Day. And then, a few years ago, now – 2010 – I got friendly with someone for whom Christmas is a genuinely good time. The comedian Mitch Benn is probably the single person I know who most loves Christmas. Not the religious stuff and nonsense; he’s got no time for that. But the doing up the tree, and the jollity and Christmas lights and all of that…? Yeah, Mitch loves that and somehow, over the past few years, I’ve started to enjoy it as well. He loves doing the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ for his kids; he loves the excitement his girls get at Christmas. And, he’s written more than a few comedy Christmas songs for The Now Show over the years. So, from around October every year, I’ve started to if not exactly look forward to Christmas, then at least not be entirely uninterested in the season.

Tech Yes, I know Douglas Adams’ rules still apply – or do they? But the tech I use, compared to even ten years ago, is so utterly different that I’d have looked at 2016 from 2006 and genuinely wondered how it could have happened in such a short space of time. Back then, I had a slim, slide-phone, a Samsung as I recall, and smartphones were… well, let’s just say they were some time in the future, a long, long time. My laptop was by no means that heavy, but the weight of laptops is measured in kilograms… Who knew that within a few years, I’d be using an iPhone, and have an iPad, the combined weight of which is maybe a quarter of the weight of the laptop alone, let alone the charger I had to carry around with me. And yes, the iPad doesn’t do everything the laptop did… but for what I need(ed) the iPad does fine. (I’m reminded of the line by P J P’Rourke about the 2015 Conservative victory: it wasn’t an overwhelming victory by any means, but a whelming victory would do very well thank you…) 

Messaging A corollary to the above; I speak on the phone a lot less than I used to. Part of that is due to me no longer being financial director of a company and therefore not speaking on the phone there. But its’ not uncommon now for me to go a day or two without speaking on the phone at all; instead, it’s texting, and WhatsApp-ing, and Skype-ing (occasionally) and… and… and… I type more than I speak, I write messages rather than communicate by voice. And, I gather, that’s happening more and more to more and more people. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Messaging gives you the opportunity to ‘craft’ your message more carefully, typos notwithstanding. But so much of communication is not merely the words used, nor the formal and specific order of them, but the tone, and tone is noticeabley absent – or at least lessened – in typing.

I saw Charlie tonight. 
I saw Charlie tonight. 
I saw Charlie tonight. 
I saw Charlie tonight.  

All of the above mean different things, and the stressing and emphasis by emboldening the word doesn’t begin to conver the full meaning. I genuinely never thought there’d be a time when talking to someone on the phone would not only be uncommon but an extreme rarity in my life.

An adult child Yes, I know, I saw this one coming, but not really. I knew this would occur, but not really. I’ve said before that I never realised what a daft question “What’s it like, being a father?” was… until I became a father. Now, don’t worry, this isn’t meant to make me special or suggest I have greater wisdom because I’m a dad. That’s an equally stupid suggestion. Neither are my experiences as a father necessarily even similar to other parents’ experiences. And yes, I know my lad has been getting older, year by year; that’s called ‘life’. But in the same way as when Phil was born, I didn’t really anticipate that one moment there’s four people in a room, and the next moment there’s five people in the room, what I didn’t expect, not really, was having an adult as a child. My lad, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, is now 21. He’s grown into a fine young man, and I’m very proud of him. But Phil’s a young man. He’s my child, but he’s no longer a child. And that takes some getting used to. Knowing that he drinks alcohol, and can handle it. Understanding that he has his own views about politics and the world, and that they’re not formed from naïveté, nor from ignorance, but because he’s thought about events and occurrences and come to a conclusion about them… That’s a weird thing to process. I mean, obviously he’s wrong whenever he disagrees with me, but then you – and he – would expect me to say that.

Tomorrow: Things future.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

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