Past, present, futile

I am one of an endangered species, one of those archaic dames who are keeping a toehold on the past for the not very good reason that we like it better than the present. Seen with a contemporary eye we are absolutely dreadful; for it is obvious to the meanest intelligence that all our priorities are wrong, all our values lopsided. Nevertheless I question whether there is not something rather splendid about the way we stand guard over the relics of our former days.

Does it not strike you as gallant the way we keep the silver candlesticks polished? And tend to have a bath and change into clean clothes for dinner? Do you admire us for keeping the photograph of King Edward VII, given to our grandfather for being something or other in the Government, on the piano? And for havingm a piano, for that matter? No? Well, I do, because it is quite an effort.

That we are also keeping abreast of the times in a number of ways is an anachronism that cannot be denied, for along with the rest of what is laughingly called the civilized world have sighed and shrugged our shoulders to punk and porn and all the other charmless facets of the age.

What does shock us, however, and what we do not like at all, is our grandchildren's distaste, almost amounting to loathing, for coat hangers. It is beyond our comprehension why they prefer to unpack their clothes onto the floor and then leave them there, almost forever, in increasingly disreputable heaps, seeing that we have provided them with closets and drawers into which they could be neatly stashed away. We do not like them eating out of saucepans at odd times either.

By the same token, although we may pay lip service to the Women's Liberation movements, in our heart of hearts we moribund ladies love men to be what they used to be: masterful and protective, offering us tweedy shoulders to cry on, opening doors for us, and placing incomprehensible documents under our pens, saying, "Sign there, dear." These gentlemen, like us, are also fast dying out, and one wonders if, when we are all gone, anybody will notice that we have?

It is all comparative, I suppose. My generation does not miss the eight course dinner or the kid gloved dancing partner. We do not feel in the least deprived. On the contrary. But as I run my fingers through the potpourri made from last summer's roses and think how uselessm it is I feel a bit sad. because that's bound to go, don't you think? Along with pretty little initialed handkerciefs? And shoe bags?

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