About Me

My photo
Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 25 April 2016

Life In Television

As any previous readers  might remember, I have a strong interest in the surroundings of our family history.  Houses, friends, pets, jobs.  Life.  Otherwise family trees are just dates.  I am currently therefore really enjoying reading the late Margaret Forster's My Life In Houses.  She uses her history of houses, student rooms and so on to look at her life and at the idea of 'home'.  Highly recommended.
And in homage, I introduce a very brief 'life in television'.  We are now leaving very different records of our lives behind for our descendants to find. So maybe, as also shown by the excellent BBC2 series Back In Time For The Weekend, it is time for a look back. 
For example, my children are completely fascinated by me starting life with virtually no television.  And the bit I saw was black and white!  Horrors!  In fact, the arrival of colour television in my home is fixed in my  mind very clearly.  I suddenly realised that Bagpuss was pink...  
I remember watching live as the SAS 'went in' to the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980.  And Lesley Judd arriving in New York on Concorde for Blue Peter.  There were sneaky attempts to watch 'unsuitable' programmes like Dallas and I had a passion for  1960s programmes like The Monkees or Star Trek.  The Dukes of Hazzard and other American imports like The A-Team were mandatory Saturday tea-time viewing.  We learnt how to use videos too.
At university in the early 1990s, my household did love Eldorado, a soap opera so bad it was brilliant.  My now husband's houseful of lads sat down most days to play Countdown - nothing changes with students.  And we were very keen on This Morning - for many reasons but mainly Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_and_JudyTV memories during my London work years include Friends, George Clooney smouldering in ER, Princess Diana's funeral and the Hollyoaks Sunday omnibus, which accompanied the obligatory hangover.  We worked and played hard then.  I do remember typing endless letters to Question Time on behalf of the MP I worked for.  She never did get on the panel though. Then later, to my university friends' delight, when I retrained as a chef, I worked on The Richard and Judy Show, cooking lunches, canap├ęs, stuff ordered by celebrities.  All sorts.  Richard and Judy themselves were just as we had imagined.  I loved them.  Never saw the show though - always finishing post-show prep!
Since children?  Well, I was blessed with an eldest who believed in getting up before CBeebies even went on air.  There was no YouTube or iPlayer so we watched the same videos on a loop.  I know Postman Pat and the Ice Cream Machine back to front even now (click for the full episode!).  We then progressed through all the staples - Thomas, Power Rangers, Disney cartoons, etc etc.  Adult TV was a mystery.  There was no 'catch-up' and I was too knackered to stay up.
Now, as technology has sped up and the way we watch programmes has changed so much, I have realised the only way to view anything actually with the children is to stage a movie night.  They don't use a TV guide.  They barely watch anything when it is first broadcast.  Their main viewing is YouTube channels.  They can talk for an hour in the car about their favourite stuff and we have absolutely no idea what they are going on about.  And the old programmes I enthuse about for them seem so slow when tracked down on said YouTube.
Me, I am still of the generation who are excited about a new series starting at a particular time.  New Peaky Blinders on 5 May?  Line of Duty final episode this week?  Clear the evening diary.  Get the wine and the snacks ready.  I love iPlayer and the other services' convenience but some programmes deserve to be events.  Which apparently definitely shows my age.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Nameless

I have been pondering all sorts of subjects but most of the things which caught my eye this week have been done to death by the media.  However, there was a piece on the BBC Radio 4 news last week which caught my ear instead.
It was an interview with a grave digger on Lesbos.  He was not a grave digger by profession but had taken it upon himself to bury victims of the migrant crisis.  He had personally buried about seventy people.  Fairly certain that most of them were Syrian, he had taken the decision to start burying them facing Mecca and to follow Islamic burial rituals.
But there were no names to put on the grave stones.  Only numbers which corresponded to a DNA register.  In the hope, according to the reporter, that one day relatives would come looking for their loved ones.
How very modern this all sounds.  Yet surely this number system is simply the modern equivalent of the pauper's grave in Victorian times or a mass lime pit burial of medieval plague victims.  Maybe one or two of these people will one day be identified but one has to presume that any living relatives are themselves under extreme threat in Syria or elsewhere or are in refugee conditions in some European country.  They may be stranded in Turkey.
The system certainly didn't sound like it made the grave digger feel any better.  He knew he was burying the unknown and probably never found.
At the end of last week, the pope took twelve refugees to the Vatican with him after visiting Lesbos.  Once again, a light briefly shone on this appalling situation.  And then we relapsed into news about some celebrity's private life, the Brexit debate (don't even get me started) and the royal trip to India.
I just completely fail to understand how a world which still marks Holocaust Day, still is chasing down Nazi concentration camp guards and still has such an appetite for stories about the Second World War can fail to see what is happening right now.  Can repeat the same errors of burying our collective heads and leaving arrangements to save people to the dedicated few.  While some bureaucrat decides that the best possible solution for these desperate people is to send them back to Turkey, if not to where they came from.  Anyone remember the Kinder Transports? 
And anyone remember the bureaucratic mess caused by Indian Partition in 1947?  Or the division of Palestine? Millions displaced and/or killed thanks to the strokes of a civil servants pen on maps.  Human-made disasters.
The Nazis were evil personified.  I am not for a minute saying our governments are conspiring to systematically kill the thousands of refugees who want to make it to Europe.  But they are looking at votes and finances.  They are certainly not looking at the situation with humanitarian eyes.  This is about people not numbers.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Photo Stream

Every time I pick up my phone, it seems a child has taken at least another dozen photos on it.  Not of their surroundings (no matter how beautiful in Scotland last week, for example).  Of themselves.  On top of this, they have now added an app called Musical.ly which allows them to do freeze frame miming along to all sorts of snippets of dialogue or songs.  'Done forty one now' I was proudly informed yesterday.  These mini videos (I think they are called vines??!) are actually very funny.  And my daughter in particular has become adept at the required array of facial expressions.  However, it has struck me just how comfortable their generation is in front of a camera.
Think about those nineteenth and early twentieth century photos of people gazing warily out.  Formally posed, probably having to sit still for ages.  You might, if your family history is relatively prosperous, have a few of these portraits.  Most people will have less than a few, often none.  As cameras improved and sized-down, styles of photography have gradually changed of course.  But one of the biggest changes in the last decade has been the quantity of pictures of everyone.  No longer constrained by length of film ('Saving the last frame for the last day'), rarely by cost of developing said films, we are all just click-clicking away.  Telling ourselves we are trying to get the perfect shot but in reality, never getting round to deleting the nineteen that don't make it onto Facebook.
Sometimes, I try to clear down my phone.  Like when Apple start asking me to pay for more 'Cloud'.  However, this weekend, I began to investigate some family photos which my father has lent to me.  and I thought how lucky my descendants would be to have access to such a wealth of photos as we will leave behind from the current technology.  My son even wore a Go-Pro camera to capture a family visit to Go Ape last week.  As if we were all in a documentary or something.  And without prompting, he kept up a really funny running commentary.  He has learnt from his hours of watching YouTube channels.  He was completely comfortable with this.  I, on the other hand, spent most of the time trying not to appear on camera.  Descendants be damned.  No-one in the future needs to see footage of my backside going up a tree ladder...