What a difference the internet has made to our lives in the last 20 years or so! Amongst many other things we are now in close contact with virtually anyone in the world if we want to be, we have vast amounts of information on any subject, at our fingertips and we can buy (or sell) anything, anywhere in the world, without moving from our chairs at home!
It borders on the magical to an old codger like me and I’m sure, quite a few other readers, especially when I remember how archaic the availability of information was, as recently as the 1940s.
I’m quite certain that I only use the tiniest percentage of what is available these days, in every telephone, iPad, laptop and PC we own, not that I have any desire to make use of most of it, but it’s rather nice to know it’s there, should the need arise!
I can get recipes for cottage pies, instructions on building a boat, the distance from Melbourne to anywhere, the spelling of words like ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ (though why I’d want that I have no idea!), or the chemical formula of milk.
I can apply for a loan, pay my bills, order a magazine, buy ink for my printer or check what is entailed in the operation my surgeon says I need, for some condition I wasn’t even aware I had. (That last one is just an example, I’m not actually needing surgery at the moment!). I could go on almost for ever, listing all the things my wonderful computer can do for me, there is no limit these days!
One of the nicest things I have been able to do, through the power of this box, is to find old friends from my school days, when I was living in a suburb of Bristol in the west of England. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many of them are still alive too, most of our ‘gang’ are well (considering our ages), but I haven’t actually seen them for about 70 years, apart from three I met up with the last time we were in the United Kingdom.
They’re spread all over the world now, me here in Australia, several living in America, one or two in New Zealand and the rest dotted about England, the only common thing tying us together, the fact that we are all now pensioners who can use computers, which is really the means by which we all got back together again.
To return to the ones I met up with in Trowbridge, England, 10 years ago. The main reason Jacqui and I were going over there was to stay with our daughter, who still lives in Barnstaple with her husband, but before leaving Australia, I contacted several of my old friends and suggested we meet, so we could have a face-to-face chat about old times, something they readily agreed to, so the date, the venue and the time were agreed, even before we got on the plane.
As luck would have it, although we had, Jacqui and I were the first to arrive at the pub where it was all to take place and I bought us a drink while we waited for someone to arrive. After about 15 minutes two elderly gentlemen, with ladies, walked in and strolled around the bar, obviously looking for someone, so plucking up the necessary courage I stood up and said, “You wouldn’t be looking for Brian Lee would you?”
“Yes!” exclaimed one of the gentlemen excitedly, and it was then I started to see one of my pals, John, hiding inside this old man’s body!
We all variously hugged, shook hands and generally got quite excited.
Then the last one I was expecting arrived, David and his wife, the only one who at first sight still looked something like the boy I remembered, but with white hair now, just like the rest of us.
The thing that most surprised me, after we had been chatting for a while, was how much the boyhood friend gradually reappeared in all of them, especially, and this was the greatest surprise of all, their individual body language! Their little personal gestures and voice inflexions had stayed with them for the seventy years since I had last been close to them and it made them completely recognisable, just as if we were still at school, and I suppose they were seeing the same things in me too.
All in all, that meeting was a wonderful experience for us all and I am so glad I took the trouble to arrange it; it was a moment I shall cherish for the rest of my life, I hope they will too. Thank you Mr Computer, you did us a great service!
Have you been able to use modern technology to reconnect with old friends? How has being on social media affected your life?
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