Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Sixties were roaring. But when exactly?

The conference speaker, no doubt wanting to get going on an informal, personal note, started his presentation by telling us that he’d been brought up ‘in the roaring 1960s of the last century.’

Problem was I took nothing in from that point onwards. It’s the kind of sentence that gets me musing.

First, I wondered idly whether any century other than the last could be said to have had any ‘1960s’. 

Probably not, I decided. On balance.

Next the reference to the last century set me thinking. The conference was about ageing, so had the speaker been brought up in the sixties of some earlier century, not just the contents of his paper but the mere fact that he was giving it would have been exceptionally interesting.

But then I naturally realised that though amusing, this again was idle speculation. No-one addressing a conference today could possibly owe his upbringing to the sixties of any century before the last.

Unless, the thought flashed into my mind, it was a conference of spiritualists. And one of the participants had performed the appropriate rituals and summoned a presence in the approved way.

‘Brought up in the sixties of the sixteenth century,’ the chairman would announce, ‘our next speaker is going to talk about Elizabeth I
s attitude towards ageing, basing himself on his numerous conversations with her on the topic.’

And as the incantations started a figure in a ruff would slowly begin to take form behind the speaker’s lectern.

I checked out the conference. As far as I could tell, there were no white sheets or clanking chains, no one who appeared transparent or even diaphanous. With disappointment, I had to resign myself to the evidence: there would be no 150-year old speakers at this meeting.

No-one wandering around the place with his head under his arm. Though maybe one or two with their heads up a different part of their anatomy.

Not likely to appear at a conference on ageing near you any time soon

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