Fuddy Duddy?

Dear Pogue,

People have been asking me where I live and, being the private, slightly secretive person that you know I am (and you love me for it…I hope) I have been avoiding the question. But, hey, what the heck. I am actually proud of where I live. It’s a great city. I think the best of cities. I travel, as you know, so I’ve seen a few. Melbourne I love and Vancouver is pretty cool (great beers). Didn’t really like New York but I think I went with a load of preconceptions so ought to give it another try. Saw Stockholm and Oslo this year and really enjoyed them. I am sure there are many who would say I should visit their city but I don’t think any will surpass Cambridge. For me it has a vibe like nowhere else. Small enough to be familiar, large enough to have a continuing round of interesting activities. Seat of learning where the old merges with the new. Coffee houses in abundance, restaurants, boutique brew houses, great book shops. How can I go wrong?

But there is a small taint in my experience of Cambridge. It occurred about 4, possibly 5 years ago.

As you can imagine Cambridge has it’s sprinkling of known characters and as I left Heffers, the bookshop, one Sunday afternoon, I was passed by a woman who was pushing a wheelchair. This seemed to be causing some interest. I paused to look and realised the the occupant of the chair was Stephen Hawking. As you will know he had been confined to a wheelchair for a number of years, suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but what a testimony the man was to overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to give expression to his genius! His presence seemed to be causing a stir and tourists were trying to take photos. The lady pushing the chair was repeatedly asking them not to, but to no avail.

For me, the way which people continued with their phones, disregarding the requests, was an indictment on what we have become and worst of these were those who contorted themselves, blocking the way of the wheelchair, to achieve the accursed “selfie”. I was appalled, saddened, sorry for the lady and most of all, Stephen Hawking. Nothing could be done to stop the people as Cambridge in the summer is to be likened to bees to honey when it comes to tourists.

I always felt like I’m not from this generation, I just live in it. Because the way my mind differs from the majority, you’d think I come from a different dimension. That’s why I keep things to myself because a lot of people won’t understand me

Keanu Reeves: Thefreethoughtsproject.com

So, what has happened to our society? How cheap has dignity been rendered in recent years? Where have people reached when the need to have a photo, just one more photo, trumps the very need to extend respect to another person? That instant gratification renders dignity null and void. How many people have any substance left? That all sounds dreadfully judgemental and I try so hard to walk on the opposite path to judgement. But when, for so many, the biggest achievements in life are measured by the size of their digital library and the “self” photos they’ve taken, what can I say?

Sometimes I long for a world that seems “other” and “elsewhere”. A world that is built on foundations of relationship, real heart-to-heart relationship (and I am someone who keeps his circle small). So much so that we afford each other respect and room for dignity. Have you ever read the Desiderata? If you haven’t you really should. There is a line in it that simply states:

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

A more beautiful way of life? To do this requires not only a commitment to listen but also a sacrificing of time to do so. Putting a person ahead of agenda. Am I being a cynic if I suggest that for many these qualities just aren’t there as they rush headlong through the day, attention glued to their device? Indeed, it may require qualities better than those I currently display, allowing others to enter my space, for I am a private and selective with my time. But it would be a better world, wouldn’t it?

Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive. And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to others.

Mary Angelou

Dignity? Do we even remember what this looks like? My recollection of that Sunday outside Heffers would tell me we do not. If the overwhelming need to have another picture, worse still, a “selfie” in the catalogue, surpasses the honouring of a great person and recognition of his unfortunate condition then I must think no. Have we become a generation of no substance? Shallow? What is happening that the very substance of our humanity is being taken from us and in its place we have substituted “devices” and an electronic world where thinking is done for us. Where we are guided on how we should do relationship via acceptable media? Was the Matrix prophetic? A documentary?

For my part, I think I will accept being known as a “fuddy duddy”, not old, as old so often precedes this term, but seeking a lifestyle where people matter. Where the “Golden Rule” still is currency. Dignity and respect may be fading values being overtaken by the spirit of the “selfie”, the belief “it’s all about me” and the need for instant gratification. But you and I can make a pact to shine and allow ourselves to be labelled “out dated” or even eccentric (which I rather like) whilst making room and time for strangers and having consideration for all people.

Am I a “fuddy duddy”? Call me eccentric and you can bet I’ll smile!

Yours, taking time and creating space,

Wic

5 thoughts on “Fuddy Duddy?

  1. You’re not a fuddy duddy at all. I am 100% with you on this one!

    I have to admit that Cambridge is one of my favourite spots in the UK – although I am partial to being in love with Wales too 😉 My dad lived in St Ives nearby, and so for two months I had regular trips to Cambridge for a variety of reasons. Sometimes just to be. It’s a truly beautiful place. It was also the place in which I first experienced a particular form of restaurant eating – my step sister treated me to Waggamama’s! I hardly ate because I was just so fascinated with the setup!
    And dad and I spent many hours in the various bookshops (and charity shops, looking for books!).
    I only have a few photos from all those visits – some say that it’s disappointing, because I did not capture memories for keepsake purposes. Thing is, I was too busy being captivated by the beauty of my surroundings, and appreciating everything that my eye could behold, to bother with taking out my cellphone! The way I felt when I was there, the way those moments made me feel – couldn’t be captured on any camera, even if I tried!

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    1. Hi. You have surprised me. You know Cambridge. I have just read your post on the current situation where you live and have been sitting here reflecting my good fortune living where I do. I am old enough to remember the Winter of Discontent in the U.K (late 70’s) when the electric would go off daily. That was due to industrial action and we didn’t have computers. I can only try and imagine how difficult things are for you.
      Power to you for writing about it with such clarity. I had wondered where you had gone since your last post.
      I hope the situation changes soon (almost as much for me as you ~ I’m enjoy your posts) but if it continues you could always join me and write letters!
      Wic

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      1. I think Cambridge played a large part in my weight loss when I was over there 😛 (It wasn’t just the initial trauma and stress). I can’t tell you how much walking I did there! The bus ride from St Ives to Cambridge always fascinated me! The first time, dad made me sit at the front at the top – it was the strangest experience! I loved it, but also felt a small amount of fear. A bus on rails, wheels tucked in, was definitely something my mind struggled to grasp! I made most of my trips there with dad – lots of walking, lots of books, and lots of appreciation for the beauty Cambridge holds. I get that from my dad – we have shared tastes, so I got to see more parks, bridges, boats, cobblestone streets, beautiful buildings and books than ‘nightlife and shopping centres’. I loved every minute!!!!!! I’d go back in a heartbeat, if I could.
        When I did my Cambridge trips alone, I did much of the same, but on my own 😛 I’d usually wind up sitting in a park, with a book, alternating between written pages, and just taking in my surroundings. The flowers, the people. I had no friends over there, but I never felt alone or lonely.

        As for our situation – it won’t change. In fact, all economic indicators predict that things will be getting much worse next year. But that is next year…. each day has its own set of problems and needs to be faced in the moment. I can’t worry about tomorrow…or even tonight. It’s just too exhausting and pointless – worrying won’t change anything.
        Every country has its problems – nowhere is perfect. I am under no illusions that the grass is greener on the other side. The other day I saw a sign that said, ‘the grass is greener where you water it’. I had to laugh, because at that exact moment, there was no water in my taps! I think I may actually share that in a blog post 😛 😉
        Every country has its issues, and there are countries far worse than mine. I AM grateful that I don’t live in one of them!
        But oh how I wish I could take my children for a walk out, for the day, without the worry of us being attacked and killed. Yes, Wic, it IS that bad! I’d love to be over exaggerating now. 😦
        About a month ago, I heard a lady being murdered on the other side of the road of where I live. I heard her screams. It still upsets me and I often wake during the night, imagining I have heard them again.
        I want to cry when my children are not in my line of vision, or within earshot. I don’t sit and worry about it every minute… but it’s there, at the back of my mind, all the time. I often have moments of panic when I message them and don’t get a reply within the hour. They deserve to have fun and not have to check in with me so often… but the safety issues we face are not as simple as the ones that are taking place in some other countries – countries I call ‘safe zones’. Extreme poverty, high unemployment rates, and culture are influencing very high crime – and this time of year is the worst. An acquaintance of mine was walking up the road to the gym two months ago – in gyming clothes, his small backpack with his towel and water bottle on his back. No visible gadgets. Broad daylight. They attacked him for his gym bag – he died of head injuries two days later. They got nothing – other than a towel and a bottle of water. This took place 5 minutes drive from my house, on a road that I have to travel often.
        Some people don’t experience all this. And I am grateful for that. They get to live in a state of unawareness – hearing the odd story, but not having it hit close to home.
        It hits too close for me.
        But it’s all I have for now. So one day at a time! 😉 It sure does make us more appreciative of the opportunity to wake up every day! 🙂

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      2. Oh…. we can’t write letters. I’d probably never get them! Our postal system exists, but might as well not. Everything seems to get lost in ‘the bermuda triangle’.
        I think it was midway through this year that a young girl from where I live, studying away from home at varsity, was raped and murdered by a postal worker. She had gone to fetch a package from home. She was told they were offline (common in this country) and she should return at 17:00. She did, and only the man who served her was there. He raped and murdered her. It was horrific! An inquiry revealed that 300 postal workers had criminal records of which 174 were convictions. No wonder our letters and parcels are always disappearing!

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      3. Sorry, I didn’t mean post letters, more of a letterstopogue approach. My sense of humour again. I am now going to sit down and try to absorb all you have told me about your situation. I am so far removed from it I might struggle to take it all in. But thanks for your honesty. There’s a blog in this somewhere.

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