Several advantages of reaching #vulnerableage have already been identified, but the connections we can now make are benefiting all ages, provided they are privileged enough to have the facility and ability to join in.
With the birthday celebrations, the virtual lunches and coffee mornings, not to mention the offices, classrooms or even just the chats, these connections are nothing less than a lifesaver for some. If they are organised by those who have sussed out the mechanics of setting up a meeting and can guide us through the protocols, it is a grand substitute for the real thing. In fact, some of us rely on this or similar connections, all the time, irrespective of current conditions, because of geographical barriers. For everyone to get together at the same time on the same screen is a bonus.
I have heard from friends who connect up to religious services, language teaching and quizzes. Others do yoga, keep fit and Scottish country dancing. A solo Highland Fling is imaginable but an isolated attempt at an Eightsome Reel must be a step or two short of a good birl! I prefer to connect to a more sedentary game of online Bridge. Partners from across the world add an extra challenging excitement to bidding and playing the hands.
There’s no denying that a great advantage of Hunkerin’ Doon is the time it allows for getting hooked up to what ever interests us. I have been reading about Scotland’s connections with the Chattel Slave Trade. Geoff Palmer, the author, researches and questions the documented history. From his origins in Jamaica and a long academic career in Scotland, he is well placed to judge. The Enlightenment Abolished is not a comfortable read and makes me wonder if the topic is taught today. This significant part of our history must be of greater consequence than the learning I had to do of the names in chronological order of Henry VIII’s wives! I also connected to Audio Books and chose as my freebie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I stuck with it because it has been on my reading list for all the years since its publication, to great acclaim I might add. Let me say nothing more than I am very pleased I did not pay for it.
On my aged and very small television set, my first time connection to Netflix has been a journey through Options and Passwords and the zapper. I have intended for a long time to see The Crown, because of its excellent reviews and awards. This series has opened another path along memory lane. The first few episodes certainly connect with early childhood memories of Coronation Day, crowding round a neighbour’s tiny television set, watching a blue tinged grey blizzard against a background of people in crowns and fur jackets. Then, as now, I preferred the big screen. The Pathe News at The Pictures was much more exciting. There is an ear worm singing “In a Golden Coach there’s a heart of gold“ but it isn’t annoying enough to Google and provide more detail.
Usually my childhood reminiscing brings my Granny into the mix but, apart from her comment that the Duke of Edinburgh was a Jack the Lad while he had been a pupil at nearby Gordonstoun, she didn’t have much to say about The Royalty. She expressed much more of the respect she had held for Ramsay MacDonald, who was a native of the town. I have a very vague memory of meeting his daughter Ishbel but that may be the memory we believe we have because we have heard the story so often.
Like the tale we heard about how Granny banged staples along a flex the length of the skirting board, so that she could fashion something to connect her new electric iron. That was in preference to the ceiling light bulb socket which she had used initially. I definitely can remember the achievement of growing tall enough to stand on the stool to put 1/- in the meter, and the rule about “nae wastin’ the licht”. I still have the little brass pot which held the coins and feel a very strong connection on the rare occasions it gets a polish.
Loose connections can be a frustration when they interfere with or prohibit the free flow of whatever energy is required to power the chip, the printed circuit, the motor or the synaptic junction. The unfathomable intricacies of the workings of phones, tablets or laptops etc. are way beyond my need to understand. We all depend on gadgets and machines to make life easier and for the most part, they do. I have an abiding memory of the bright green gunge of a salsa verdi being splattered all over me and the ceiling. I always double check now that the lid is well connected to the liquidiser.
A reluctant acceptance that the neuronal connections are a bit loose occasionally can be outweighed by the wit and wisdom of #vulnerableage to adopt clever strategies. The substitution of a “thingamybob” for a momentarily irretrievable specific, or a “what’s his name” for what’s on the tip of the tongue, will sort that out. But what else can be done to deal with a glitch? Well, a step to the right or left a bit can magically encourage a better internet connection. Then there is my well tested “gie it a shoogle”, and if that fails, a “good dunt” might be called for. I disclaim any responsibility as these come with the warning that “you should not try this at home”.
From what I can gather, this Hunkerin’ Doon has brought about a better connection with many folk who have been out of touch. I have heard of phone calls and emails from people who have been off Christmas Card radar for a while, or even years. Perhaps that warrants a deeper delve into the psychology connected with our mortality. The daily reports of the Covid statistics can be very disturbing. But let’s leave that for now!
For now, the benefits of the connections we have will have to do. We all miss the real physical connections with so many elements we took for granted. Barefoot on grass, sand between toes after a paddle, the creak and swish of the wind in the forest, and dare I say, the occasional plane flying over. The handshake, the kiss hello and the hug as we greet each other are deemed bad connections just now, and the very frustrating thing is that a shoogle won’t sort it.
But in spite of that, there seems to be a feeling of a growing connectedness. More people joining in the Thursday clapping, more smiling at strangers as they pass at a safe distance, and an agreement that getting back to normal will not be normal. There are even signs of a budding belief that we might manage some change for the better.
There is a difference in how different countries handle this pandemic, but the world is connected in the effort to overcome and survive it. My Granny was never slow to remind us we‘re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns so I guess that proves it.