I’ve been living in the past this week. First I interviewed three fascinating women in their 80s who left England just after the war having married American GIs. Some had regrets, others recalled happy memories but all of them gave me a unique insight into a time in history I have only read about or seen pictures of on television.
It sounds corny but I do feel it’s an honour to speak to these women and hear first hand about life in wartime England. You can read the piece here.
Secondly I had two wonderful interviews with Ray Davies, the singer with The Kinks.
In once he recalled his schooldays and in the other, he talked about living in London in the Sixties at the height of the band’s early fame. Of course, not only was it an immense privilege to chat of one of this country’s greatest living songwriters, but I enjoyed joining him on his trip down memory lane. He remembered intriguing details from his life 50 years ago, such as the colour of the walls in his front room.
I live very much in the here and now, but as I get older I realise I rely more on memories. My Dad died last year so family conversations involve us reminiscing. Even my oldest friends and I share two decades’ worth of stories.
If you want to feel decrepit instantly, surround yourself with young people. Last year I trained as a teacher and my placement was in a Sixth Form college. For AS English Lit, I taught the Eighties-set play Top Girls. If we talked about Thatcher or Scargill or anything from that decade, the students were either completely in the dark, or they’d say they’d studied it in history. When I said I’d graduated from university in 1994, they gasped. Some were born that year, the most the year after. I’m sure if I’d said 1954, they wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.
A couple of years ago I was at the Festival of Britain exhibition in the South Bank with my friends’ children. One pointed at what she thought was an ancient artefact and asked me what it was. It was a typewriter.
How can you feel old if you know about SEO? Journalist, teacher, author. Yeah. (Young people will understand this bit. Old people, as you were).