As part of our competition, we thought we should include this great entry from Alfie and his grandmother. The competition closes to entries on the 21st of December, so you still have time to submit. Remember there is a £500 prize! To find out more click here.

Alfie is 16 and his Nana is 77

What do you make of the title Alfie? Where do you think yesterday might meet tomorrow?
If it’s us you’re talking about, and I think it is, then the answer is: here in Pizza Express.
A really profound and philosophical beginning!
Well it’s the here and now, you and me isn’t it. What we have learned from the past to make things happen in the future.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
What did you learn at school Nana?
I went to a catholic girl’s school where I had what was considered a good education. But the only science subject was biology and that never included human reproduction.
That’s terrible! We get all the sciences. I think that’s important. There is no difference made at all between girls and boys and that’s how it should be.
Maths must be different for you now Alfie?
You wouldn’t have had calculators, would you?
Certainly not. We had logarithmic tables and the slide rule.
That’s all on computer now. It’s much quicker. But we have to be able to do some work without calculators
We had to do a lot of estimation and I think that is still very important.
So, do we, otherwise you don’t know if you have entered the data correctly. It’s much better that we have calculators because it does the tedious work for you. I think we do more maths than you and that’s got to be the way to go.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Alfie: All subjects go back to the beginning and then we take them forward. We are what moves them on. All what you learned is part of history now. We are further ahead naturally.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Alfie: My dad had the cane at school. We think it was a funny story but it’s wrong to hit a child. Did you get hit?
Only with the ruler on my knuckles. The nuns were fierce. Most girls were terrified.
It’s wrong to hit a child. But at least teachers had respect because the kids feared the punishment. We don’t have any effective punishment and that’s bad. Detentions and in school suspension are no good at all. You can catch up with everything on the Internet and what’s bad about sitting on your own in school? There was some good in getting the cane.
Does physical violence teach respect?
No, it definitely doesn’t. But we have nothing in its place. Kids are not frightened of the consequences.
Do you think you need a deterrent in order to behave?
Yes, but we need something better than violence.
Like what?
I suppose getting parents involved. That would be good. But some parents are just as bad. It’s really bad not having good behaviour in school. You just know what is good behaviour don’t you.
You do Alfie, because you have good self -control and self-discipline.
Thank you, but that needs a foundation from early on. If you don’t have that sort of good foundation you don’t have much of a chance.
……………………………..……………………………………………………………………………………………………..
When I was your age, I wanted to get to university to study philosophy. No one in my huge extended family had ever been to university and I was the only one of my five siblings to go. I think it was only about 5% of the population who went to university in the 60s.
University is expected for just about everyone now. There are some apprenticeships and some people take a different course but most aim to get to uni. I think that’s good but most people are more concerned about getting jobs. You went into teaching.
Yes, but first I applied to the Civil Service because I was advised they were the only employers who were interested in philosophy graduates. I applied but my interview was such a shock I never proceeded.
What happened?
I thought the Foreign Office would be great. But at the interview I was asked whether I intended to get married in the future. When I replied that at some stage I definitely would. I was then reminded that if I got married, I would have to resign. I was appalled. They did not like my question about “living together.”
Geez! Nana!
True, but teaching was a good alternative for me as I loved it from day one. Women and men were paid differently and I primary and secondary teachers had different pay scales too. It was archaic.
That’s awful! I have selected a college that has an outstanding reputation for getting graduates in to appropriate work. You have always told all of us (grandchildren) to study what you really love that’s what university is for. Some people do just study what they love and try not to worry about jobs, but I have researched a lot online and the course I want to do is in the sort of creative art work that I really love, and I know it will lead to the kind of work I want to do.
You are very single-minded Alfie.
There are so many distractions at this age at school and outside school, many don’t bother with the hard work, and I know some who drop out. I won’t be doing that.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
You have been drawing since you were very little Alfie.
I can’t remember when I was not drawing. We are lucky to have artistic parents. Your dad started as a poster painter didn’t, he?
Yes, his first good job was hand-painting posters for films at the cinemas in Birmingham. Where do you think the art of yesterday meets art today?
That’s easy. We meet because of the passion we share. It is always the same; it is the driving force. For them it was capturing the image, being realistic, understanding how bodies and objects look. How to look. The camera has really pushed that kind of art to the background; we are after interpretation much more. Art is not just about realism it is about expression and it involves the audience in a different way, I am studying both fine art and photography.
You have a particular regard for Leonardo.
He studied the human form in a way not done before. He cut up dead bodies to understand how the bones and muscles related. He had to represent the muscle, not his idea of a muscle. The realism of the masters is for us to learn from, but we are into interpretation and ideas that go beyond all that. It is the same argument as before. It’s all about good foundations.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Your family Nana, was different from mine and I think we both have advantages.
I was one of 8 children, three died at three days old because of the Rhesus factor. I was the first to have a blood transfusion in Birmingham.
Loads of people have transfusions now.
I never knew anyone divorced, never knew a single parent. My mother stayed home once she was married and all of us stayed at home until we got married. When we did get jobs away from home we stayed in digs, that’s with another family.
Nana! I could live quite well on my own in a flat right now!
I bet you could.
We have much more freedom and better independence but we don’t have as much family time as I guess you had.
We had dinner every night around the table and of course the Sunday routine of mass, breakfast and Sunday lunch was never missed by any of us.
We do have special times together like birthday and Christmas. I like it when we are all together. We are lucky to have these good foundations.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
I am envious of the sex education you get in school these days.
Didn’t you get the same?
Certainly not. In my particular case: nothing! At 16 I had only the knowledge that I had gathered from the Encyclopaedia Britannica that we had at home. I had no experience of sex before I was married.
Really?
It was not because of lack of interest it was simply the enormous fear of getting pregnant. There was no contraception other than condoms and I had never seen one at your age.
(Suppressed giggles.) We started with some knowledge in Year 6 (11 years of age). It’s much better this way.
What about the importance of relationships?
That was the emphasis in the later stages. It was biology to start with but we gradually expanded our awareness. I feel I have self-knowledge and self-confidence.
I am very glad to hear it. Do you know I knew no swear words till I was at university? The F word, C word and the W word were all new to me.
Geez! I heard them all at primary school. We would find books with them in and show each other. At secondary level that language is all bravado really. There are older people in the school who intimidate you with their “expertise”. Everyone says they are doing it when they are probably not. It’s all part of the game.
What about pornography? We had censored films and TV so I never saw any of that. There were no swear words in books until after the Lady Chatterley case in 1960. The magazines were the usual outlet for risqué photographs or there were night clubs where there were stationary tableaux of naked men and women. But that wasn’t porn; it was titillating that’s all.
What’s titillation? What’s the difference?
Titillation is suggestive and sexy and normal, whereas pornography is explicit, tends to be not normal and tends to deprave. Not a good thing even if it is not obscene.
By my mid-teens I saw porn on people’s phones; I was never into it at all. Many of the people in school were well into it earlier on. I don’t think there are any magazines like you had. We were amazed when we went to France to find them in the shops.
This is an area where I think technology is a huge disadvantage, despite all the wonderful things it can do for us. What do you think is the greatest advantage?
You don’t have to move.
Really Alfie? That is the greatest advantage?
Yes! You stay put and find all the answers. But it is also a big disadvantage since people use technology because they can’t be bothered to think things through for themselves. When you find it easy you tend to forget don’t you? We can find things out and get maps and hear music whenever we want to. That’s great and it’s all very easy and very useful too. It takes the tedium out of things. You don’t have to get up and go anywhere or look at books or find the relevant information, you just don’t have to move.
I had to learn to use the Encyclopaedias if I wanted to find things out. My dad bought the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1947.
You still have it in that book case.
It was very hard work to research a topic; it required a host of skills. You can understand now why my knowledge of sex was so limited!
People have few books now a days Nana. Not like your two rooms filled with hundreds of books. Technology has made us lazy. I can’t even think that far back to when you didn’t have these inventions.
What about libraries? They were where I spent all my spare time.
It’s a place to go where it is quiet and to have my private lunch especially where they have a nice café.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
You have the desire, Nana, to go on learning, you are always learning just like us, that’s why we will always have that in common. That’s where we meet and that’s why we meet. It’s so nice to talk to some one who has a different point of view and who likes to spend time with you. I enjoy being with you.
I enjoy being with you Alfie. And I think this is a terrific answer to the question of where yesterday meets tomorrow. It is in meeting, talking, reading and most of all being open to learn. Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future of our world?
There’s a lot of nonsense in politics. It’s old and out dated. This Brexit is a big decision made by not a lot of people (out of the population) and it was older people who wanted to leave and younger people who wanted to stay. The leavers won and they’re not going to be here to deal with the consequences. There were lots of lies and I don’t feel it is good for the future.
So, you’re not optimistic for the UK but what about global issues?
Like Ukraine being independent and trouble in the middle east where laws are based on religion? I think it all creates deep problems and I feel pessimistic about these separatist issues.
What role does religion have in all this?
It just isn’t relevant. It is not a unifying factor. I don’t know a lot about religion. I think it is old and outdated. It’s so hard to try and understand some of the beliefs that people hold. If you are not bought up in it, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s a lot to ask to believe in something for which there is little or no evidence. There are moral themes that are interesting and we do need to reflect on those.
Do you think there are any universal laws of behaviour?
Yes, I do. Cruelty to children is wrong whoever or where ever you are. And another thing is stewardship.
What do you mean by that?
Looking after the world. Our environment, the animals and all the plants. If we don’t look after the oceans and the earth for food we cannot survive.
I love your word” stewardship” I think you will be a good steward with your attitudes.

Tags : latest

Leave a Response

%d bloggers like this: