Grey skies and rain, with the radio announcing the death of Maeve Binchy; the sad loss of one who has provided so much good reading for so many readers.
It is a fact, but one that is no easier to accept even while acknowledging it, that as one gets older, all the well-known people in the news, as well as those with whom one has become friends, or known all one’s life, drop out of the picture upon which one’s life has been based. The numbers become more precious, the fewer they become.
True too, that so many give up corresponding by letter; failing eyesight, and arthritic fingers often contribute to the decline, but with postage stamps the price they are, the diminution is not surprising; soon, I fear, letter-writing will become exclusively for the rich.
Even the phone rings less frequently than before. Days are so busy, and spare time has become so precious for everyone. During weekdays, I tend to check to see what’s on the television before phoning as so many watch the soaps as religiously as once I listened to Dick Barton or Saturday Night Theatre on the radio of yesteryear. It might be my imagination, but sometimes I get the impression I may have called at the wrong moment, or like me, the person on the other end thinks it’s another of those nuisance calls.
Which brings me to another pet grizzle: those wretched automatic answering systems that insist you press one, two, or three; then send you off on another wild goose chase through the digits, hash or star keys, and finally, when you think you might get to talk to a human being, you are addressed by someone who is reading from a snag sheet, and cannot answer your queries because their accent make their response nearer gibberish than your own language
Of course, telephoning abroad brings in the time-factor, so calling friends in another country necessitates checking on the time zone, and that can be off-putting to anyone’s spontaneity. This has resulted in my using email more and more – with family, and those friends who also use the internet. Now in my late seventies, I have encountered a reluctance among my contemporaries to use this means of communication, but among those who have, we chat each day, or send the latest snippet; mind, with mounting charges for telephone and broadband connections, these too will soon pass into the exclusive realms of the rich too.