Say Hello by Rosie Thomas
I lean my head towards you, look at the lines of your back and many feelings rush inside my head but I’m unable to put them into words, so I curl my arms around your waist and pull myself closer to your body and smile. This is happiness.
no time 4love by popoks (deviantart)
When I was a child my Dad told me to listen to my grandparents and do as they told. This discipline was expected for all elders, and over the years through listening to them my silence turned into respect. I took their word as truth and saw them as cardinal bearers of the past. Listening to their conversations with other elders and adults I noticed they enjoyed talking about the olden days. The War was a common topic that never escaped daily conversation. No food was wasted as war-time rationing was not a distant memory for them. Not diluting your glass of juice was considered thriftless. A bit of mould on a loaf of bread or piece of cheese was merely cut off for the rest was still edible. Not writing on every line and using both sides of a piece of paper was considered improvident. Food was regularly discussed and they loved to lament on the days when one could buy two pounds of apples for 15 pence or a dozen eggs for 40 pence. The good ol’ days. When children were seen but not heard. When TV was not full of rubbish and one could watch a proper newscast.
Some of their stories would make me chuckle while others, like the German bombing of London in WWII, would make me silent. War and politics took up a large share of everyday conversation. Mark Twain once said “it’s better to stay silent and look a fool, rather than speak and remove all doubt.” At an early age I quickly learnt this lesson. When I tried to enter the discussion I was either ignored or told I was too young to know what I was talking about. This was true. Their discussions on Yasser Arafat, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the cold war made me dizzy. I was intimidated but also fascinated by their vast array of knowledge. Gunter, my step grandfather, seemed to know just about every conflict known to man since David and Goliath, could explain the revolutionary military strategies of Alexander the Great, and tell you the shoe size of Napolean and the size of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. I absorbed their words like a sponge. Knowledge became authority. They had lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, the Suez canal crisis, apartheid and the fall of the Berlin wall. I was alive when the Berlin wall fell, but I did not understand the context that made its destruction so significant. I grew to respect these people by listening to their life stories.
Today I still feel humbled in the presence of elders and enjoy talking with them. When I moved away from my grandparents I no longer had access to their stories but I continued to acquire knowledge through encyclopaedias, history books and eventually the internet. But it was their conversations which ultimately nurtured my character, humility, and high esteem for knowledge. I saw their experiences and stories as life lessons one could not find in a textbook. Considering I decided to study history at university, I’d say they had a profound effect on me. At university I found professors that filled the void of my grandparents’ absence. Passed away, they no longer walk among us, yet their stories will be passed on.
World Spins Madly On by The Weepies
Man proposes, God disposes.
—Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471)
Say hello and wave goodbye. Because I’m feeling Gray. Not dreary or gloomy. Not overcast either. And not Dorian Gray. Just the soothing voice that is David Gray.
J’adore votre gâteaux. Merci pour les sablés.
After blowing your nose: You should not open your handkerchief and look inside, as if pearls or rubies might have descended from your brain. —Giovanni Della Casa, Galateo (1558)
From Arielle Saiber’s survey of Italian Renaissance advice manuals, in Cabinet magazine.