I really began to grow up (late but seriously) at the hands of the retired health visitor who took care of my son when I was working. She was salaried but she was in effect chief cook and bottle washer, fallback position and my son’s first and most effective granny – my mother was too old to be actively interested and my ex husband’s mother and he were estranged.
God bless Dot.
Dot taught me to shop, built on my domestic skills and though her style was a million miles from mine, managed that eloquent balancing trick where the child was never confused between her version of things and that of his parents. (She had unique gifts with children.)
And Dot put the John Lewis Partnership up there, with the Trinity (she was a Baptist), Wales and homeopathy.
Sadly though, times change.
Walking up Kings Road the other day, somebody drove past making a testosterone enhancing row in a fast car and the Chelsea Pensioner beside me and I exchanged speaking glances.
“Horrible noise” I said and he agreed, going on to tell me that you could have engines tuned to make noise like that and he had to suffer one which went up and down the road outside his window in the small hours.
I mentioned a man I had heard giving a guided tour with such an ugly voice that I wanted to stop him. We agreed the ears become more sensitive as you get older. And changes are not always for the better.
He then indicated, with his elbow – “Like them!” He could only mean Waitrose, that’s where we were both going.
“Sharp marketing?” I suggested. “Not ‘arf” he agreed.
Did I ever think to say or hear this said of JLs, said by a Chelsea Pensioner?
No I didn’t. Times change.
In the cupboard under the stairs at home were stacked the magazines my parents and I couldn’t bear to throw away. I could pass on comics but not Hollywood and Pa hung on to World Wild Life and the National Geographic, the first publications to tell me about “out there”.
And only last year I bought a print by Thomas J. Abercrombie from the National Geographic shop (now closed), who endorsed and commissioned his work.
Now I learn that the bulk (73 per cent) of the National Geographic is to be sold to Fox News, their partners since 1996 in the cable tv station bearing their name. So the suits will tell us that this is the logical next step, nothing to worry about – but the rest of us will feel a familiar sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach.
It is formally offered that “Murdoch will invest enormously in the research and scientific commitment of the National Geographic. “
There will be some complicated tax advantages no doubt. You don’t get to be a billionaire if you’re not good at money.
But how long before the controlling interest and the content clash?
A few hundred meters from where I live is a Grade II* Listed park intended for the peace and enjoyment of those who do not have a garden of their own. People jog there, walk dogs, take the children to look at the little zoo and have a picnic.
As I thought the National Geographic would go on forever, so did the people who use the park: we thought Grade II* Listed would protect you from anything.
Until along came a man with money who wanted to put on a racing event in the park and as the cars are electric, this could be promoted as a “green” event.
The council was pressed by City Hall.
But to convert the park, it had to be closed, the residents couldn’t use it for weeks.
A racing circuit had to be built (and it will have to be taken down again). There were hundreds of lorry trips with attendant diesel and dust.
The current council magazine boasts of the Green flag for the park, a “cherished” marker awarded by Keep Britain Tidy, but last night the council were considering the matter.
I wish they’d done that before.
Sometimes a change is not as good as a rest.*