Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Signs of Illiteracy?

Signs in the Timaru Botanic Gardens, South Canterbury, New Zealand. OK, the signwriter stuffed up - twice - but wouldn't someone on the gardens staff have noticed and sent them back for correction? Apparently not, as I first spotted these errant signs three years ago and they're still in place.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Where does respect begin?

We often hear the cry "One of the problems with the world today is that kids have no respect for anyone". Like most attempts to apportion blame for perceived wrongs, that is a generalisation of massive proportion, but I do think there is some truth in the claim that many kids don't respect their elders as they did in years gone by. Undoubtedly the causes are many and varied. One of them is that so many adults, by their actions and words, don't deserve much respect, but that was always the case.

I was giving some thought to this today and came to the realisation that in the long gone days of my childhood and early adolescence, we addressed every adult by their family names, preceded by the honorifics Mr, Mrs or Miss. The only exceptions beyond the extended family were close family friends who in some cases were honorary aunts and uncles and were addressed as such.

I suspect today's seemingly universal practice of kids calling adults by their given names has evolved from the desire of modern adults to be "with it" and accepted as a part of the kids' scene (hence, "Just call me John"). I'm wondering how significant the erosion of the older tradition has been in our perception that young folk no longer have respect for their elders. After all, how are they to differentiate between their peers and adults? Have we taught them to see no difference between their schoolyard friends and their elders?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

When cowboys were our celebrities

I'm taking my six-year-old grandson to a disco at his school this evening - a disco at which the kids are to attend dressed as famous persons. He's going as Michael Jackson, resplendent in red jacket, black hat and white glove. I got to wondering what famous person I might have represented myself as when I was six. That is, if I was going to a fancy dress disco, which I wouldn't have been because I wouldn't have known what a disco was. Neither would anyone else have known because discos hadn't been thought of back then. The only celebrities I can recall in those pre TV days were cowboys, such as Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and the like, who we saw on the silver screen and in comic books. Indians weren't celebrities because they were a generic bunch without individual identities. Robin Hood or William Tell might have been candidates, as might Donald Duck, but they were all fictitious characters rather than famous people. There were famous sportspeople of course, but without TV we didn't know what they looked like. The Royal Family were popular but today they probably trail behind Justin Bieber in the eyes of kids. How times have changed!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Saturday is bath night - regardless!

Bruce Taylor, aka "Catalyst" at Oddball Observations , had a nice lead-in to a story about birds . It took me back 50 years to the days when hot water was so precious we bathed only once a week. Truth be known, with the high cost of electricity these days, hot water should be more precious now than it was then. More correctly, I think the once a week baths were a hangover from the days when bathing required boiling the wood-fired copper and was a much more major operation than simply turning on the hot tap.

In fact I have a vague recollection of our family depending on the copper for hot baths but much stronger memories of  the copper being fired up to boil the bed linen in times prior to the exciting day our first washing machine arrived. Saturday night was our bath night too, and Bruce may well be right in surmising that was because of Sunday being church day. I seem to recall that Saturday was bath night for most people.

We had a neighbour in our small town who had the unenviable job of driving a horse-drawn open dray from door to door overnight on one night per week, to collect the nightsoil (a.k.a. poos and wees) from each household. His task was to remove the open can from the out-house of every household, tip the contents into the dray and return the can to be re-filled during the ensuing week. One assumes he didn't exactly smell of roses by the time he returned home at the end of his night's work. Anyway, it was well known that our neighbour didn't have electrically heated hot water and could only take a hot bath after boiling the "copper". Nightsoil collection was Wednesday night. Smoke emerged from our neighbour's washhouse only on Saturday nights.