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Whatever happened to old so-and-so? Saturday March 4, 2017

As ever, this started from nowhere. My Great-grand-daughter had returned from a geography week-end, complaining vociferously about the awful food and weather. I found she had been to a Field Studies Centre. Bingo. Organisation still existed.

I wanted to trace a student who worked for us in the 1960's, who introduced me to classical music, worked for said organisation, and emigrated to Canada in 1975. He had an unusual surname – so go to it, Mr. Google, just surname and Canada. I think I have found him, now a successful photographer. But a day of phoning Canada, changed e-mails, and a search worthy of Hercule Poirot, and needing as many grey cells.

When everybody sent Christmas cards you kept up, however briefly. Then the, often pernicious, Christmas letter started – about grand-children you never knew or doing up the Lotus.

Now, e-mail and postal costs have deprived us of lots of news, many of our oldest friends (in both senses, age and time known) have not embraced the computer. Now, I have at least 8 people, 3 of them relatives, with whom I have lost touch – makes me sad. If they are ill or bereaved I'd like to contact them.

I am getting almost belligerent e-mails 'Why have we not received your Christmas letter – so amusing'. I don't write 'I've had the most miserable, worrying year of my life' to old contacts. I use Moodscope instead!

Then, the most disturbing, was a visit from one of our daughter's. We caught up thoroughly, and she said "Are any of your old friends in good nick?" Truthfully, no, it has been a ghoulish year. But, we also have young friends, kids of old friends. I have town friends, university, research, church friends. My daughter has virtually none. She seems happy enough, a short, disastrous marriage – then a liaison which lasted too long and made her unhappy. Now she looks good, manages her life well, and her finances.

But, she's never going to be able to say "Whatever happened to old so-and-so" because she has no Christmas card list, and her friendships are recent and on Face Book. Will it be enough?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Hopeful One Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 6:30am

Hi Gardner- looks like I am going to be first of the block today. I just knew it was you as soon as I started reading your wonderful effort and fluid style.I still send Xmas cards some 65 of them. I just carried on where my wife left of. It all happened one Xmas when she started struggling with them because of the Alzheimer's. I took over and asked about them . I made a biopic of each of them as my aid memoir. Friends are priceless as it proved for me for they sustained me in what was to follow.

My offering for today.

Mr.Patel went to the Police to report his stolen credit card.
Police : When was your card stolen ?
Mr.Patel: 3 months ago.
Police : Why are you reporting this after 3 months.
Mr.Patel: Because the thief was using the card a lot less then my wife would have.
Police: So why are you reporting this now ?
Mr.Patel : I think the thief's wife has started using it now.

Brum Mum Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 8:17am

One thought about the advantages of Facebook......I keep in touch with many old friends who live across the world. IMy school friends who live in Canada and Hong's a wonderful way to see how they are getting on and then we message each other. So I would challenge your view. Letter writing is wonderful, but I just use the iPad as my pen! I do agree about Christmas letters though. I find humour stops the boasting....

Sally Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 8:31am

Hi TG! Me too! I don't know what it is ( or rather, I can't explain it) but I knew your 'name' would be at the end of the piece!
Which was very good, by the way. I agree with all you say on this topic.
I have made a life of nurturing friendships and acquaintances...because, I suppose, it often provided an outlet for my loneliness bringing up a handicapped child. Faraway friends took me back to easier times, my youth, carefree and fun times, and made me realise that we are all multi faceted . So often, we think in the moment : I am worthless, I should be more ( add any number of adjectives).
Depending on what mood I am in, I shun or seek contact with people. Even family know when to give me space by my mood. ( and I'm not talking about band moods here, but the low moods of depression or depletion)
Not so different really from the need for physical space displayed by our severely autistic young man/ son, who, if and when he has a meltdown, cannot be comforted by proximity with a caring person. Rather the opposite! Leave me alone , he seems to shout. Get far away from me. Woe betide anyone who attempts to get close or muscle in, for they will be rewarded by a slap or a push! Self protection I think.
At Christmas, I get a warm furry feeling from receiving the Christmas wishes and cards from all the people who at one time or another have been a piece of the jigsaw of my/ our life. Immeasurable. For this alone, for me, Christmas is worth celebrating, whether or not religion or spirituality come into it...
That's for another day!
Thank you again, TG. You are pretty amazing. And Mr G. is lucky to have had/ to have you.

The Gardener Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 8:48am

A good morning - woke to the REAL realization that I can do anything, or nothing, then I have the blog! You're a flattering lot, so I can purr with the cat. I did loads of freelance writing - and regular for local paper and trade magazines. Then, I was hired as a political columnist because the Editor liked my 'style'. He was a misogynist but he wanted to be 'with it' in the forefront of employing the 'quota' of women. He then proceeded to knock my style out of me - I lasted 6 months, and the paper 2 months longer - knocked off its perch by, I think, a Rupert Murdoch 'freebie' which pinched all the advertising.

Night Owl Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 10:27am

Hi TG, good to read you, great blog, more produced than your replies, but very recognisable to me too.
I fail to write many cards, each December. Those I do get done are done at breakneck speed on last posting day, usually to rellies of a certain generation... Mainly to acknowledge and thank them for writing to us. And no newsletter or 'highlights in 4 photos' as I used to do... so not done to my satisfaction.

I comfort myself with the idea that I can write 5 cards a month throughout the year instead, but never do, and the idea haunts me all year!!

I too find it hard to write 'news' to folks when the real story underneath is sadness and the sorts of losses people don't share. Or I don't want to share with all those acquaintances.. I suppose the benefit of Xmas cards over any other time of year is that you can just wish the recipient well and sign. (Ignoring the 'where is the newsletter?' thought that the recipient may have.... none of their business if they don't make more personal contact beyond the dreaded D month.)

Facebook can be like a Xmas card list - somewhere to collect names and contact details, but no need to interact individually!! (I don't usually post, as that is a mental health disaster zone for me). The downside is I do lose hours every week watching what everyone else is posting.... or at least what f/b calculates in its newsfeed algorithm...
I do keep up with a small (more manageable) number of real face-to-face friends... Facebook time would be better diverted to that... (Maybe still time to trial giving it up for the larger part of lent...)

All interesting to think about... Thankyou!

Jul Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 11:38am

Hello Gardener. I have just lost a long reply to you. I can't re write it just now I'm afraid. Maybe later. I am so glad you are on your own for three weeks I think while your husband is in respite. I do read your comments every day to see how you are getting on. It sounds like a nightmare 24/7. I worry about you. Have you managed to find any possible long term solutions which you could afford? Julxxx

The Gardener Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 12:54pm

Thanks for your concern, Jul. Permanent solution still not on - boys have offered help, but once committed to a permanent home, then the money is committed, and thanks to circumstances beyond our control our family has been affected financially by world events (as have many others)

The Gardener Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 11:40am

Just been clearing a century of invasive ivy off a yew tree - beautiful trunk - and mulling over this blog and its replies. I've been 'toying' with the idea of Facebook - think it is only means of keeping in touch with grand-children - it seems to be their sole means of communication. It scares me as it seems to be addictive - and all the hype about its mis-use. I also feel that the 'missing' people who provoked this blog, if they don't use e-mail they certainly are not going to use Facebook. The 'gang' who infest my kitchen on Wednesday mornings are all on FB, so I shall take counsel. HO, is it always the memsahibs who keep up the social contacts? Mr G did help with Christmas cards, addressing envelopes, but he was NEVER pro-active in contacting people, yet, even now, he really likes being phoned - although his conversation is now 'stuck' at the high point of his career, 30 years ago. He also likes talking holidays, so I shall write the history of our holidays (in French) as a conversation 'prompter' for the readers.

Another Sally Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 4:04pm

Hello everyone, I feel moved to add a reply today. I am relaxing in a mobile home in Dorset, lovely sunshine outside, but quite windy.
My husband and I share the Christmas card list, which works well for us. I am the only one who might add a few lines about family - but no boasting, just how we are and ages of grandchildren. I lose track of ages of people's children.
I use FB but have kept my contacts list very small, so it remains manageable.
Thank you TG for a good post. I too watch your replies with interest and admire your fortitude. I hope this respite time rests and restores you.
E.hugs to all who need them. Another Sally xx

Leah Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 10:24pm

What an evocative blog. I have found since having my shop people from my past will just drop in even though it is a long way from where I knew them and a long time ago. Some come in as they saw the name and I knew I was there. Others just come in and we either look at each other until one remembers our connection or we chat and realise we have met before.
I have reconnected with many school friends via FB and our reunion was organised on FB. You can use FB to find people and then write to them.
Gardener I hope you get to breathe and spoil yourself even for just a little while in the next few weeks. Pleas look after yourself and keep on being you. Leah xx

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