The Significant Other, not a man usually given to philosophical musings or woo-woo flights of fancy, went all Proust on me last week. It was “Remembrance of Things Past” with knobs on round our house.
I dunno what brought it on. Monsieur Proust may have revelled in a sensory flood of total recall after munching on a madeleine (a wee French sponge to you and me, soggy bottom or not) but I don’t believe that rhubarb pie, even baked by me, could have the same hallucinatory effect.
Be that as it may, he found himself going down Memory Lane with a vengeance, without even realising that it was Memory Lane and had, somewhere along the way, turned into a six-lane smart highway with no hard shoulders or slip roads to make a swift exit in the face of oncoming disaster.
He was reading something on an archive-type website he frequents and came up spluttering with indignation. Not at the content or the images or whatever it was that had captured his attention but over the “fact” that the year of 1979 was referred to by an otherwise innocent Facebook posting person as “history”.
“That’s not history!” he stated firmly. There was a pause that could only be described as significant.
“Not to you,” I said at last, carefully but probably rather unkindly. “But it’s actually 42 years ago…” Shrieks of silence ensued, the gist of which was followed by what sounded like “Hurumph” or something similar.
So, is 40-odd years ago history? I suspect it is – for some, indeed, especially those pesky millennials and Gen X-ers, it’s probably pre-history.
It begs the question of each of us: “When do I become historical?” As opposed to hysterical which is the current default setting in this neck of the woods.
I can now truly be called a pensioner (though not yet of the state variety – that delight is another couple of years down the little red road to bankruptcy), a senior citizen and even elderly, a word I hate with a passion.
Old is much preferable, if you ask me. You know what you’re doing with old, especially if you adhere to the Bette Davis dictum that “old age is not for cissies”.
If it takes 100 years to become an antique, it’s nice to think it only takes 40 or so to become historical, or even just 20 or 30 to qualify as coming round once in a generation, like disputed referenda. I’d like to think I could cause a bit of trouble regularly every couple of decades, just for the hell of it.
I bought my friend a birthday card recently bearing the message: “We are not old, we are retro!”
Then there’s vintage, which anyone who watches too many Salvage Hunters on the box knows is really shorthand for decrepit and falling apart. Although it might be a rather revitalising experience to be sanded down and re-varnished by the lovely Will Kirk or Dominic Chinea on The Repair Shop…
While being an older woman currently has disadvantages ranging from invisibility to downright discrimination, it would make a fine change to hear: “What an enviable antique wife So-and-so has!” Or: “That retro bidie-in has certainly held its value!”
Forget his-torical – give me her-storical every time…
Maybe the joke’s on all of us
Although you will be reading this – if you have nowt better to do – on what is now April 5, I was writing it, I should explain given the notion of deadlines, on April 1. A day which normally provides all kinds of fascinating fodder for gags against the gullible and jokes at the expense of others.
But like many commemorations of past fun and games (and future ones too – how long do you think Brexit Day celebrations will last in the great scheme of things? Probably not quite as long as some of the delays to British exports), it has somewhat outlived its usefulness, passed its sell-by date, gone with the wind etc., etc. It has, let’s face it, been overtaken by events.
Especially this year when you literally couldn’t claim or point out anything outlandish enough without real life, let alone reality TV, trumping (or Trumping) it at every turn.
You will understand me when I tell you that I looked for a lot of the usual pranking suspects on Thursday morning last – strange inventions, sightings of Elvis and/or Lord Lucan (you never see them together, you know), allegations that Boris Johnson is clandestinely retraining as a hairdresser – before I realised I couldn’t work out which was which.
And when I did eventually find out, what were the subjects of the April Foolery of our day in 2021? Harry and Meghan, Piers Morgan, Love Island and Barnard Castle, ever associated with that stately gnome and figment of a delirious Leaver’s imagination, Dominic Cummings.
And all I have to ask is, looking back on the news agenda of the past 12 weeks, let alone the past 12 months: “How could they tell?”
You couldn’t, literally, make it up. Because, heaven help us all, someone already has…