Monthly Archive for March, 2009

What my parents did, and what my children don’t

Cardinal Red Tile Polish. There was a time when no self-respecting house-wife would not have the front door-step regularly polished with ‘Cardinal’. Haven’t seen it around for ages, though I think you used to be able to get it in Woolworth’s – and indeed what happened to that too?

It got me thinking a bit about practices of the generation before us, things that we (generally) no longer do; and of some of the things we do, but our children have given up on. I thought I might try and make a list of things that now seem so anachronistic… Do join in, and add more in reply comments.

Cardinal Red, courtesy of Billogs@Flickr

Cardinal Red, via Billogs@Flickr

How about fountain pens and inky fingers? Ball-point pens were anathema at my school; and I remember having to regularly re-fill my pen, using the lever on it’s side, from the Royal Blue Ink bottle on the windowsill of the classroom. Little scratching of the fountain pens heard these days; mainly replaced by the tap-tap sound of fingers on laptop keyboards instead.

Music reproduction has changed enormously. In 1960s rural India, we didn’t have a radio; but we did have a gramophone with some records. Even the old brittle 78rpm shellac ones. (I remember my sister standing on a favorite record, and breaking it; or hearing stories of people –philistines– heating old records to recycle them in to flower pots.) All a long way from the iPod, and higher quality music available for instant download in greater quantities than ever before in history. I suspect Bach and Mozart would have been tempted to give their right ear to have access to the huge catalogue of music we largely ignore.

Items heading towards the local museum:

  • Dress-making patterns
  • Telegrams, and telephone boxes
  • Hand-cranked meat-mincers
  • Shoe polish
  • Update: additions from the ‘Comments‘…

  • twin-tubs
  • ironing underwear (!)
  • old fashioned slideshows with family snaps
  • napkin/serviette rings
  • sugar tongs & sugar cubes
  • paper doilies
  • This is not all about nostalgia not being what it used to be, though. I may need to consider another post on things that grandparents have start to pick up from their grandchildren – surprisingly, to show it’s not all one-way…

    And then there is the list of things we don’t yet have, but really could do with – but I think Dave Gorman already has that one covered.

    In the mean-time, do add (in reply comments) to the what ever happened too… list

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    Pro- or Anti- ?

    Is it possible to be pro-Palestinian without being anti-Israeli? Or indeed vice-versa?

    Israeli/Palestinian Flags

    Palestinian/Israeli Flags


    Over the years, medical students from the Edinburgh’s Medical School have supported the international work of the E.M.M.S., the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society. In the late 1950s, my parents were two of the young medics who were due to be joing the team at the hospital at Nazareth in the Holy Land. Had they done so, then it is quite possible that I might have been born in Nazareth, and as famously – dubiously – quoted of Jesus: “What good thing can come out of Nazareth?”

    Nazareth

    Nazareth, and the E.M.M.S. Hospital

    Sadly, the unexpected death of my grandfather meant my mother temporarily taking on his G.P. practice, and there was a change of plan – and India is where my parents subsequently ended up serving. My childhood and upbringing was less Middle Eastern, and more South Asian instead.

    However, though I have not yet managed to fulfill my ambition of visiting the Holy Land (despite managing to wave that direction from both the Suez Canal and from Cyprus), this pre-natal episode has left an indelible mark on me, and a deep interest in the country’s history and culture. Nazareth remains a fascinating place; a predominantly Arab Israeli town with a population of 65,000, made up of aprox. 2/3 Muslim population, and 1/3 Christian. The Arab/Palestinian situation is a melting-pot of complexity that I cannot begin to understand, even if it remains such a draw.

    And yet (as I sometimes comment to Jewish friends & colleagues) my boss is a Jew, and Jewish culture so permeates the Christian faith too. Much of the theological training that remains with me focused on it. I love discovering more.

    Last week I came across a book review, with an Israeli/Palestinian theme, posted on a blog site. The review was a little heavy handed on it’s treatment of the book author’s position. But it was the subsequent internet flurry that worried me most, as various sides began to lay blame at each others door.

    Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestinian accusations were leveled.

    It became unrepresentative, and unhelpful eventually, which is why I have not linked to such an unhelpful spat. In the end, I could see significant arguments on both sides. I wanted to be pro- both.

    Does being pro- one side of a ferocious debate necessarily mean that one must be anti- the other side? Does that exhibit the appalling naïveté of a distant observer, unaware of the depth of the real issues? Or sometimes, can one be so close to an issue that we think there only is one way forward, and it has to be mine?

    I am more Pro-Palestinian; and more Pro-Jewish, the more I hear.

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    Peace In Our Time?

    Reflecting on the Northern Ireland Peace Process as PC Steve Carroll is buried…

    Like many, I was shocked and saddened buy the reappearance of violence and murder again, after so many years. British soldiers, preparing to go on tour to Iraq the next day, gunned down as they collect pizza; a policeman responding to a call from the public.

    One sign of hope this time, is that there has been almost universal condemnation of these killings. Even if some perceived a bit of a delay before some Republican politicians commented on the issue, Martin McGuinness’ and others position is unequivocal.

    A number of years ago, I was in the bookshop of Westminster cathedral. An elderly English lady stopped me with her hand on my arm, and said

    You look very like Martin McGuinness. Has anyone ever said that to you before?

    The surprise must have been clearly evident on my face, because she continued:

    I suppose you might not have heard that as a compliment…

     

    Alastair Cutting

    Alastair Cutting

    Martin McGuinness

    Martin McGuinness

     

    I have often rehearsed that short interchange in my mind. At the time the comment was made, there were frequent ‘attrocities’, which were rarely condemned by the members of Sinn Féin, and I was more than a little uncomfortable with the comparison.

    However as time moved on the Peace Process made real progress. Seeing Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness smiling – no laughing – together at Stormont remains an iconic image – a unity government was a dream that I was not sure I might ever see. Pray God, may the callous killing cease.

    Ian Paisley & Martin McGuinness

    Ian Paisley & Martin McGuinness

    I don’t think I find the comparison of me with Martin McGuinness uncomfortable any more – though still a bit bizarre.

    I still have hope for permanent peace in Ireland; and may Stephen Carroll, and the two young soldiers killed recently, rest in peace.

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    By Jiminy

    ‘scuse my French…

    There I was, watching the 1939 Wizard of Oz, and suddenly Dorothy exclaims “Jiminy Cricket”!

    Was I watching the right film? Had there been yet another random tv channel switching incident? (A frequent occurrence in a household with teenage girls, where I am only allowed ‘the gadget‘ after others have gone to bed.) Isn’t Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio? And which came first? Oz, or Pinocchio?

    Jiminy Cricket

    Jiminy Cricket

    Which came first – what here is chicken, and what is egg? A quick glance on Wiki, and the slightly surprising answer is that Oz was out the year before the 1940 Pinocchio. But even that was not the first, as Judy Garland herself had used the same phrase in the 1938 film ‘Listen, Darling‘. Suddenly, I seem to be in to film textual criticism. Even earlier references apparently include the 1930 film Anna Christie.

    Is it possible this expression ended up in the final edit through the casual use of the phrase by a teenage actress, and the director says ‘Yes, keep it in!”?

    I had either forgotten, or maybe never really knew, that Jiminy Cricket was coined as an alternative ‘euphemistic expletive’ for that other JC. Not sure one should use a euphemism for his name. He seems happy enough for us to use it, with respect, as it is. Jesus.

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