Classic scholars may know Heraclitus is attributed with informing us that change is the only constant in life, so admitting that I frequently change my mind is no shame. If such an observation was made by an ancient Greek philosopher, it will do me.
My Granny in her wisdom and flexibility to adapt to the many changes she encountered, used to say that a change is as good as a rest. The decision to change my original topic for this week affords a pause to gather more information and order my thinking into a deeper understanding of current more pressing matters and greater insight to what has become our society’s most urgent need for social change. So, not wishing to change the habit of a weekly post, I have chosen to look at change in its different contexts instead.
Changin’ yer tune can be a refreshing liberty if it is based on reliable information, change of circumstance and careful weighing up of pros and cons. I think that applies to all issues, from the goings on in the world, the country, the city and at home. This lockdown has forced several changes on everybody, and the transition to a new way has been a huge trial for so many, but some have been positive. Changing mindsets about who and what are really important have been demonstrated and there seems to be a widespread call for change for the better to take account of that. So, that will be positive if the intention transmutes to action.
On an entirely different level, I wonder how often we have chuckled at those “how many to change a light bulb” witticisms. Well, can I say that an insidious onset of change has meant that for me it has become no laughing matter. In the name of progress, some years ago I disposed of all the dangly lights and changed to sunk into the ceiling, last for my lifetime bulbs which never needed changing. That’s a joke! The bloomin’ bulb’s gone again. Changes to joint flexibility and balance are now barriers to standing confidently even on the most stable of steps. The acceptance that a topple and potential injury would be a nuisance to me and mine, has resulted in adapting to a change of ambiance in one corner of the room. There is now a gloomy dark shadow cast upon the corner bookshelves, making it impossible to see properly when it becomes dark. But, hey, because I can’t see the books, neither can I see the dust, so there’s a bonus until there comes a change to the lockdown rules and I can welcome back the agile young people on whom I usually depend for such jobs.
Change in the weather has become a bit of a bind when we are still having to meet outdoors. All that wonderful sunshine that kept us going in the earlier weeks seems to have disappeared. Still trying to look for the positive, I can appreciate that I don’t have to change my shoes to go out in the evening to water the pots.
Changes too, to become a cashless society. I have been thinking about the man and his dog who usually sit on their blanket at the traffic lights near a bus stop I used often. He knew I always managed to dig out the spare change he asked for. “Can you change a £20” was a frequent question to the taxi driver on the way home from a night at the theatre. When will that happen again – taxi and/or theatre?
“Keep the change, Quinie” was a sure fire directive from Mrs. Squashy Door, the lovely neighbour of my Granny, so called because the green gloss paint on her south-facing door would blister in the hot sun, and of course it was always sunny, so that the bubbles presented an irresistible invitation to be popped by little fingers. She would call on us to run a message which we always did willingly because it resulted in the means to buy Coo Candy or a sherbet lolly.
How many changes did our grannies witness and would not hesitate to consider positive? I have often related this story in answer to a moan about poor NHS provision. We were in the Chemist’s collecting her prescription which cost one shilling. It included medicine and bandages. She left the bandages on the counter, and when I questioned why, was told “They’ll niver manage it keep it gaun if fowk depend on it for a bandage.” She had much she thanked the NHS for throughout her life, and certainly never took it for granted. There was her change from ootside lavvy to bathroom, and from communal tap to scullery. I never heard her make reference to a kitchen in her new hoose. All this social change taking place and obviously much appreciated by those benefitting, but wholly accepted by us children, as a change from one normal to another, without any need to know the hows and the whys, and a total lack of any idea that we ever lacked anything. That innocence of the young and a happy secure childhood which nurtured it, has become very precious in hindsight.
Unfortunately social change has not been fast enough and wide enough to ensure provision of the same, as a fundamental right, to all children. Some folk still have grannies, some won’t remember theirs, or will remember them as a profound influence. Some folk will be experiencing role reversal as they become the carers, or may be grieving a recent loss. Some grannies are old hands at it and some are new to the game, enjoying the privilege of having a new baby in the family. Lots of us are still learning as the stages of their lives and ours evolve, and we can take pride in witnessing the people they have become. For sure, granny or not, we have all been grandchildren and have adapted to changes we have experienced over the years, and most would agree that further change is required. I am willing to bet that there are only a few who wouldn’t take up a banner in support of the need to bring quicker, more effective change to the lack of equal opportunity for the bairns.
We change the channel, change the station, and change the ambient temperature with relative ease and little thought. It may be taking some of us longer in lockdown to change out of jammies in the morning. A change of hairstyle has required various stages of transition, unless one is bald. We speak about changing this or that without thinking that the literal meaning is fairly far removed from the actual intent. We request a change of the record if somebody persists in going on and on about the same topic. Twice a year we change the clocks, and I have spent time throughout my adult life changing the beds. Change is definitely a constant in daily living, and for the most part, brings about an outcome we seek.
I have a friend who described her feeling of lockdown in the most poetic way; she said she saw herself as a chrysalis who would metamorphose into a beautiful butterfly when the lockdown lifted. How positive is that!
Whatever happens, we will all have to face a new reality. Some may see that as a bit scary and a huge challenge, if learning to embrace change which might be uncomfortable, means changing their habits of a lifetime. Some will consider it long overdue and welcome it. Who knows what is in front, but if I may take another look back and recall the nonsense party piece of a fondly remembered Grandad in the family. He sang this yonks before YouTube could ever have been imagined but there are various versions of The Railway Porter on line, none of which comes any where near the renditions we were treated to, but nonetheless convey the same sense of urgency…
All change here for …..