Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Only connect.

As George (Transit Notes) reminds us, EM Forster in her novel "Howard's End" reminds us of the importance of connection with one another - how well that fits in with what the farmer and I were talking about over lunch today.

Maybe every generation throughout history has sat over a meal and chatted about how times have changed since they were young.   And maybe every generation has said that the changes in their lifetime were the most momentous.   But, really, regarding 'connections' between individuals, there can never have been changes like there have been in the last fifty years or so.

In my father's youth, you married someone from within an area of around five miles or so.   What other way was there of ever getting to meet otherwise?   My mother lived eleven miles away and my father walked over after work to see her until he had saved up enough to buy a bike.

In my youth only 'important' people had their own telephone (and then it was often a shared line).   We had a Judge in the village, a doctor, a vicar and a businessman - they all had cars but I don't remember any more.   And the businessman drove so slowly that my brother once overtook him on his bike!

If you needed to phone someone urgently you walked to one of the only two phone boxes in the village - and pressed button A (and if there was no reply button B to get your twopence back).

So how did we connect?   Well we visited our friends and relations, I suspect much more than we do now.   Our leisure time was taken up with Barn Dances, Drama Groups, Choirs, All kinds of church activities - plenty of connection there in more ways than one (Postman's Knock anyone?).

And we wrote letters.   I had a pen-friend up until the day I got married - her name was Diana Wickens and she lived in Bexhill on Sea - a place which seemed an awful long way away to me.  I wonder what happened to Diana.

Any presents we received had to be answered with a thank-you letter and all aunts and uncles had to be written to at birthdays.

But compare than with connections today.  We fly all over the world for holidays, on business, to see friends; we think nothing of getting in the car and going to the coast for the day (in my day it involved two trains and a long wait to complete a journey of thirty miles).

Very few people are without a telephone and similarly without a car.  As the years go by less and less people manage without a computer.   And once you have a computer a whole wealth of connections open up - e mails, Google, Facebook, Twitter and of course - best of all - Blogland.   Who would have thought that I could have daily chats with friends in America, Australia and South Africa?   Only connect indeed George.   

18 comments:

George said...

This is a lovely post, Pat, concerning something that we all need to think about. Glad to know that you found a bit of inspiration in my comment on the prior post.

the veg artist said...

An aunt of mine, now in her 80s, has had the same pen-pal since girlhood. Both grandmothers now, they have each crossed the Atlantic several times just to visit. Family milestones, bereavements, joyous news - all has been shared for nearly 70 years.
I have a feeling that these two would have taken to blogging like the proverbial ducks!

mrsnesbitt said...

Connections eh Pat? The very best xxx

E Wix said...

Yes, we are all connecting like mad --and it's such fun --though a little overwhelming at times.
I'm planning a trip to Vienna this summer and have 3 blog chums there already whom I've 'known' for about 6 years.

Blogland really has been a great boon to me!
I so very rarely write a letter with pen and paper these days and very rarely get one either!

Sue said...

Had the same thought myself today about the wonders of technology and communication. My daughter has just arranged to lease a new home in Sydney and I was able to click on Google maps and 'drive' along her new street. Incredible.

Cloudia said...

How ever would I have had the pleasure & edification of knowing you?! Well realized essay.....



Aloha

Heather said...

I'm not sure my parents or grandparents would have coped with the computer and have only come to use one myself in recent years - I'll be 77 any minute now. Life has indeed changed greatly in our lifetime and the computer alone must be a wonderful way of alleviating loneliness for those who live alone and/or in remote areas.

Joanne Noragon said...

Howard's End is among my favorites. Helen and Margaret had a hard road to familial connection.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

And the connection is fabulous. There are so many things that we would not be able to learn without our internet - it truly is mind boggling.

John Gray said...

My rebel nature means that I never switch on my mobile and I refuse to tweet and Facebook!

Country Gal said...

Wonderful post ! Those were the days I remember to being raised on a farm and going to the local store, pub or community center to catch up and meet people ! I find so much has changed even just over the past 25 years in communication . I feel blessed to have the internet and connect with family and friends this way and for blog land ! Have a good day !

Country Gal said...

Blog land a wonderful trip around the world with out leaving the comfort of home and meeting lovely people that you can keep in touch with via e-mail or through blogs !

Robin Mac said...

Blogland is certainly a wonderful place - probably my most favourite part of the internet. I had quite a few penfriends as a child, from around the world - Canada, England, Scotland, the Netherlands and what was then Ceylon. I loved getting the letters from all those exotic places, they were a source of great interest to my friends at boarding school also. Sadly I stopped connecting after I finished school. Now that the world has become a much smaller place, we seem to travel further and not know our immediate neighbours nearly as well. I suppose there always has to be the bad with the good. Cheers.

Penny said...

I think Robin has said all I was going to say.

Virginia said...

Yes, different connections indeed. John said he didn't tweet or Facebook. I don't know how to tweet, and I'm very basic (and private) in my Facebook sharing, but it is a great tool. When the Christchurch New Zealand earthquake struck I was able to find out via Facebook that close friends were all ok. The phones were not available and it was an enormous relief to be able to find out they were all safe.
On the other hand, the connections we have with the immediate neighbours are much less close than they would have been a generation or two ago. Sad.

Em Parkinson said...

I make my son write thank you letters, if only to keep that connection with paper that is being lost. They are much appreciated by their mainly elderly recipients!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Aren't we all lucky that we have found so many blog friends. It certainly seems that we are all of one mind doesn;'t it. Thanks for calling by.

Angie said...

I think the main changes started about 100 years ago but the speed of change has increased so much over the past 50 years...my MIL said she was amazed that she was born as man first took flight and then she was able to sit and watch men walking on the moon.
When we first had a computer ...a simple one...I remember scoffing at those who said most of us would use computers to do our shopping in the near future. I now do 80% of my food shopping on line to make life easier..!!! How things have changed.