Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Lifestyles. Organisation. Fireworks.

Sometimes just keeping up with your correspondence is hard work. Between letting my son and daughter-in-law know about our travel plans and answering the query from a companion in the Italian class, it’s hard to find time to hang up the washing. Which needs to dry, and some of it to be ironed, unfortunately, before we set off on our travels again the day after tomorrow.

The Italian classmate had forgotten what the homework was. I had not written anything down, knowing I was not going to be in the class next Tuesday and therefore having no intention of doing it. And so I had to refer back to notes and rack my brains to remember what it might be. And let him know.

And then I had to have a long catch-up telephone chat with an old friend. For the last few months we have rarely managed both to be in Greater Manchester at the same time. We have both been travelling to faraway places, and she has been busy with demonstrations against Brexit, against fracking and against anything else that might come up. She has become terribly militant since she retired.

We were hoping to meet today, before I go off to Portugal on Friday. But it was not to be. Someone should be coming this afternoon to take off our hands a futon we no longer have space for. And so, we shall try again when I return, and when she returns from Germany, and possibly before she goes off to London to help her daughter with a brand new baby. The baby, by the way, is not yet born. She should have arrived on Monday but failed to do so. As both the mother and the grandmother of that reluctant-to-come-out baby are both the most obsessively organised people I know, I am astounded that the child has dared to delay her arrival!

There will be ructions! 

While my friend was busy anti-Brexit-demonstrating in London on Saturday, my daughter and her partner were strolling round Manchester. At some point in the afternoon pranksters set off fireworks somewhere around St Ann’s Square. My daughter said that the silence immediately after the BOOM! was frightening. People left shops to get into open areas, waiting to see whatvwould happen next. It may not have been related but one of the shopping / eating areas was evacuated. People were afraid of a possible terrorist attack!

Not far from where our daughter lives in Ashton, residents have been complaining about gangs of youths setting off fireworks in the evening. This is not just an occasional firework, the kind of thing that has gone on since I was a child. Indeed back then it was expected that on November 4th, deemed Mischief Night, youngsters, yes, mostly boys, ran around frightening people with bangers and ripraps! But what is going on now is groups of youngsters, still probably mostly boys, setting off huge, bright fireworks and throwing them around streets and squares.

Consequently some people are saying that sales of fireworks should be controlled like sales of alcohol and cigarettes. We shall see!

Here’s another thing that has changed from what used to be called “a bit of harmless fun” into inappropriate behaviour:-

“A students’ union has been forced to introduce fancy dress guidelines after a student society held a homelessness-themed party.

The trampolining society at Liverpool John Moores University was criticised after photographs of its annual “tramps’ night out” event were published in the student paper the Liverpool Tab. The pictures showed the students wearing ripped clothes, with their faces painted to appear dirty. Some wore signs reading “Spare change? Meet me at the bar” and “give me your change and I’ll change your night”.

The society apologised in a statement. “We realise now that our annual choice of costume could cause offence and are sorry for any upset this may have caused – it was never our intention,” it said.”

Fifty and more years ago, a tramp was a different sort of creature. Think of George Orwell, living the life of a tramp to be able to write about it. Many of those he met chose the life. No doubt some of them did it from necessity but not all. And the fact was that there were far fewer of them and there was still a romantic notion of the life on the road. Think of the ones Laurie Lee met when he set off on his travels: gentlemen of the road.

There is probably still camaraderie amongst the rough sleepers, well, some of them, but I doubt that anyone sees such a life as a romantic statement about modern society!

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