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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now versus then

Were things better in the past? Were the 50’s and 60’s better than the 80’s, 90’s and the 00’s?

I can’t answer that because, contrary to what some people say about my age, I wasn’t around in the 60’s. All I know on a personal level of my very early childhood lives on some much revered 35mm cine-film stored safely away in my Dads’ cupboard.

It’s a bit sad to be honest.

We occasionally gather at my parents’ house to watch my brother and me run up and down our old garden in what must be 1975 onwards or thereabouts, followed by projector slides for the years that followed.

I know what you’re thinking; “projector film and slides. What a riot of an evening that must be”.

You’d be wrong though.

It is the epitome of a walk down memory lane and invariably involves much laughter.

The thing is, I can take a picture of my children, download it to my PC and e-mail it off to my parents within 5 minutes, they can print it out and stick it in a frame within another 5 minutes, job done.

The difference in accessibility to your memories between this generation and our parents’ is vast.

It’s wonderful for us (as parents) and it’s wonderful for our parents too.

I sometimes think however, what impact it has on our young children? Not impact in a negative way, but what difference will it make to their lives that they are able to access images and sounds instantaneously.

I mean, even I am impressed when I can take a picture or movie of my kids and immediately turn the camera to show them themselves in playback.

I watch their face as they watch.

Of course, they smile at their own images.

“That’s me”, they used to say, astonished at seeing someone who looked just like them in a 2-inch square screen on the back of a tiny silver box.

But even now, even for a 5 year old and a 3 year old, seeing themselves the second after they have been captured on film is ‘old hat’, it’s too obvious to be impressed by.

I wonder what they’ll make of the early images of their Dad?

They’ll probably find it all terribly amusing in much the same way as when I used to watch a Harold Lloyd film, the picture flickering before my eyes, everything seemingly speeded up.

On the other hand you have my parents who, while they have done an admirable job in meeting the digital revolution head on, still seem gob-smacked at the time scale between taking a “photograph” or movie and watching it in playback or, as mentioned, receiving it in their e-mail inboxes.

If you are reading this, then you don’t need me to tell you that I can post a picture here and someone browsing the inter-web thingy-majig on the other side of the world can see it at the same time as someone next door.

Yeah, like I said, I don’t need to tell you all of this.

M says to me, “but we never print any of our pictures out. They just sit on the computer with no-one able to look at them”.

Yes, I reply, but look in that big box in our room full of old 35mm camera prints. No-one can look at them either – what’s the difference?

I remember a primary school day out to our local Fire Station when we were allowed to look around the engines, climb over them and generally be a nuisance. But the memory of that is all in my mind; fairly clear, albeit from 25-ish years ago.

Nothing else would be able to remind me of that day.

For Joseph and Annabel (who went to a party at a fire station this afternoon), I have a dozen shots of them shooting water hoses, trying on fireman hats and “driving” the fire trucks.

The thing is, will their memories serve them as well as mine has, considering I had less physical ‘memory markers’?


‘ course they will.

I’m just talking rubbish.



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