Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Graduation … at age 4! Photo-recording life! Being gender-correct. Self-identification + nationality. Turning down invitations.

 Our smallest granddaughter starts primary school in September. This means she is leaving the nursery she has been attending for the last few years. She’s ready for school, already writing her name and recognising letters, counting coherently and even doing a bit of very basic arithmetic, drawing fantastic pictures and talking everyone’s socks off. Altogether a clever and charming little individual. We’re all rather proud of her.

She’s very proud of her latest photo from nursery, her graduation photo. Yes! Her GRADUATION photo. They put on a little ceremony for all the children moving on to “big school” … complete with little academic gowns and tiny mortar boards. The children were asked to dress smartly for the occasion, not in their usual navy blue and green nursery uniform. But then for the photo all the pretty dresses and little boy suits are hidden under black academic gowns. A graduation ceremony! I don’t think they got to throw their mortar boards in the air at end of it.

It’s not the first time I’ve come across this phenomenon. Whose idea was it that tiny tots should not just leave but “graduate” from nursery? No doubt someone is making money from the production of tiny graduation gowns. Thank heavens the parents didn’t have to pay for them, at least not directly but no doubt the cost comes from the fees already paid.

Our daughter was a little miffed that the proud parents were not allowed in to watch the ceremony. Covid restrictions prevented that from happening. But there will be a way round it. The nursery will probably sell videos of the graduation ceremony. Or at any rate they will sell individual graduation photos.

I suppose it’s part of the modern way of life, where every stage is photographed and documented and probably instagrammed. Goodness knows how we ever managed before all this was possible. 

Of course, school photographs have always been there. I have a collection of embarrassing primary school photographs - a freckle-faced me grinning at the camera with my tangled curly hair all over the place, on one occasion the whole class having been ‘tidied up’ by the class teacher using his own comb. My relating that to my mother had her reaching for the Derback shampoo and the nit comb! 

By the time I moved on (graduated?) to secondary schools the yearly ritual photo had disappeared, to be replaced by a two-yearly whole school photo, always with some joker trying to have herself placed at the end of the row so that she could run round to the other end before the camera got that far and thus appear twice on the photo. I only have one of those in my collection, from my upper sixth year, so my freckly progress through my teenage years is less well documented. Possibly no bad thing!

A friend of mine has told me that the airline Lufthansa will no longer greet its passengers with “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome on board this Lufthansa flight to ….” They will still welcome passengers on board but out of respect for the new genders they will skip the “ladies and gentlemen” part. I imagine listing everyone would just be too unwieldy: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and anyone in-between, gays and lesbians, transgender and no-gender and anyone as yet undecided, welcome on board!

At some point in the excitement before the final of the Euros, a friend of mine posted something wishing England luck but saying that she wasn’t sure she felt English. Indeed she still self-identified as French - she went to France as an au-pair at the age of 17 and stayed until she was in her late 30s, producing a half-French half-English daughter along the way. And I found myself wondering about national identity. If we can decide to self-identify as a different gender from our birth gender, why not be bale to do the same with nationality? It would solve a myriad of problems. 

I would like to self identify as European, please, and thus be able to travel all over the place without visa problems. 

This next bit of information popped up from somewhere:-

“Treasury wiped all data from more than 100 government-issued mobile phones last year because their users, including the department’s boss, entered the wrong pin.”

Apparently the department’s permanent secretary, Tom Scholar, was asked to disclose communications he had with David Cameron but was unable to do so because the text messages were lost during phone re-sets. Now, it strikes me that people with positions of responsibility in the running of the country should be able to remember a pin number for their phone. How do they cope with cash machines?!

And finally, my brother-in-law tells me that 10 Downing Street has had to cancel a fancy reception for the England football team as the players have turned down the invitation and have refused to go. Will they also turn down knighthoods, OBEs, MBEs and the like? We shall see.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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