A cynical look at from the cradle to the grave

When you are approaching the end of you alloted life span, assuming you make it this far and having read the advertising ploys of the ‘funeral plan’, I have to wonder if this is just a final effort to squeeze more money out you before departing this world.
If having squeezed expensive disposable nappies, mountains of short life toys and clothes for babies from you.
They then move on to school life that starts with ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ after all your child can’t be without the latest expensive ipad, iphone, games etc (never mind whether lunch consists of a packet of crisps and a packet of sweets), we’re then met with university costs, regardless of whether your child wants to be a mechanic, a university degree is a must.
They may not know why something works as long as they know how to replace it, that worthless piece of paper is needed.

Moving on to adulthood and responsibilities, the pressure in having a perfect house which looks as if it comes from the pages of a magazine and still needs an annual complete redecoration because last year’s furniture is ‘so not cool’.
So now to live in the perfect home, living on take-aways because you don’t want to soil the kitchen, you need an interior designer, no B&Q for you, it has to be the works.
Of course last year’s garden also needs a makeover, for goodness sake, there are weeds growing in the path so that needs to change.

With the modern days, morals has slipped a lot, now that they have their perfect home they decide to get married.
A modest £100 for a marriage and certificate at a registry office somehow escalates to an average of £30,000 for the full works.
A few thousand pounds for a dress that’s worn one day! A white dress which signifies purity and virginity – I don’t think so, it’s a pretence, a mockery even worse if the marriage is performed in a church, that is a bigger mockery.
I wonder how many can keep the vows they have made a solemn promise on. A registry wedding is just a legal formality and that’s all a non believing couple require.
It’s bad enough spending more money on an unnecessary honeymoon but they also need the stag & hen do as well.
Still beats me why they need all that when they’ve been living in sin all this time.



One of my interest in genealogy and when you delve into the past you can’t help thinking about what it was like to live without comforts of central heating, fitted carpets,  microwave ovens,  computers and mobile phones.
Life was hard, that was obvious but what we would consider a hard life now, in some cases would have been luxury to our ancestors.
I thought of my parent’s generation, my generation and my daughter’s and the simple differences on how we were all brought up.
My parents started work at the age of 14/15, after a spell in domestic service my mother trained as a psychiatric nurse.
My father went into an engineering apprenticeship.
Neither had academic qualifications and my mother was a natural at her job, dad was brilliant at his, but they learned the hard way – hands on.
They were excellent loving parents who after marriage, my mother gave up her work (as was expected then) she then became an A1 homemaker.
There was no fast food, unless you count the fish ‘n’ chip shop or ice cream shop, mum did all the cooking, cleaning and baking and best of all, she was always there for us.    They would have been extremely comfortably off in today’s generation but not so then.
In my situation at least, there were family units, grannies and grandpas, aunts and uncles and the close friends who had been given the honorary titles of aunt and uncle because we would not address our elders by their first names otherwise.
All of these seem to be equally responsible for our well being and happy to clip our ears if we stepped out of line.

My generation came through the hippy years, and with more women working after marriage, it was easier to get a mortgage with two wages being fully taken into consideration and with that the rise in house sales and the ultimate rise in house prices.  This started the process, women had to work to help with the mortgage and many of the children could no longer depend on the complete parental care.
I’ve never seen the point of having children then farming them out to someone else to care for – and influence.
Things also became easier in home care, gadgets galore making sure it was easier for working mothers.
I opted to stay at home to care for my daughter, my mother had been there for me and I have always appreciated that , I felt the best I could give my child was to be there for her and make sure she had a good education.
I’ve never regretted that choice although we weren’t well off and it was a struggle for us financially.

My daughter’s generation is quite something else.
Welfare benefits for those know the system can get a single mum a home, large council tax discounts and lots of benefits meaning and she has no need to work, the welfare subscribe heavily to her.
The girls talk openly about getting pregnant to get a house and benefits.
They can be seen out with the best of pushchairs which are forward facing so their child cannot see them, they have a cigarette in one hand and talk constantly on a mobile phone not the child.
I think it is so sad that our generation has allowed that to happen.
I took my daughter everywhere I could, we went for walks and picnics in the local park.
I cooked her meals and taught her to cook.
Many young families today exist on take-away meals.  I learned a great deal from my parents as they did from theirs and I feel that is where the learning is, you can’t put it in a text book.
Dr Spock started it which encouraging free expression yet his own son committed suicide and his was the type of advice we were encouraged to take.
Not all parents are good, we know that as well but the way things are, it seems the majority has to suffer in order to protect the minority, surely there are better ways.
The family nucleus seems to have been replaced by the street gang family.
I’ve heard foul language being used by grandchildren to their parents and grandparents and sometimes with the threat to report them.
So much authority has been taken away from parents and with that seems to have gone, the skill of parenting, respect for elders and authority.
What will happen with the next generation I wonder.

But for the grace God there go I

We are usually very charitable people and sympathise with people in less fortunate circumstances than ourselves.
They are always grouped into little modules, or big modules as the case may be. Refugees, immigrants, unemployed, undesirables, homeless and no matter what group they belong to, we have an opinion.
Sometimes that opinion is just an opinion, without feeling or sympathy.
We hear sad stories through all the media sources now, some genuine, some are not and some folks choose a way of life different to ours, some have a way of life by accident.

My daughter’s recent encounter with a homeless gent was enough to put a face on at least one problem ‘module’, homelessness and all we know is he didn’t start off that way. However through that, I was reminded of the story of someone who had lived not far from me and who was born in the latter half of the 18th century, Tommy Raeburn, also known as the Ayrshire Hermit. He was by no means homeless but for the sake of a fairly minor disagreement, he must have looked as if he was.

He was the only son in a family of four.
His father was known to be a quiet, honest, frugal man who eventually took possession of a farm in our area, a farm which Tommy inherited on his death, while his three sisters received nothing from the inheritance and had to go out and fend for themselves.
In the meantime Tommy, a bachelor and quite dour, kept the land tilled, he also retained a servant of his father’s to take care of household & dairy duties. Margaret or Meg, as she was known had been in the family for many years and it had been thought that with the dismissal of his sisters, this was to make way for Meg to become the ‘Laird’s’ new wife. This was not so, instead he did try courting the daughter of a neighbouring farmer but at the last minute, on approaching her home, instead of paying court to her, his nerves must have given way and he sheepishly asked directions to a neighbouring village.

He came to and agreement with his cousin, a neighbouring farmer about allowing his cousin to cut across his land as a shortcut to town, saving him an extra mile on the journey in exchange Tommy could have as much land as he needed.
Eventually a quarrel broke out regarding the arrangement and Tommy threatened to close off the right of way.
The case went to court but as the arrangement had been legally executed, Tommy lost the argument and vowed from that time on, he would never shave his beard, cut his hair, change his clothing, nor till the land until his ground was lawfully restored to him again.

After a while, his appearance is reported to have been ‘beyond description’.
His clothes were so patched that the original coat could not be distinguished.
His hair and beard described like sheep’s fleece ready for shearing and his shoes worn out and made into clogs.
He was a man of over 6 feet in stature and would have made quite an imposing figure.
He became a tourist attraction and many people visited him from the surrounding areas. He welcomed visitors and was most hospitable to them, offering lemonade and ginger beer.
He entertained them displaying his ability of taming wild birds and would have a robin peck crumbs from his beard.
He is reputed to have made good cheese and whisky although a substantial part of his income came from such tourism.

Although nicknamed the Ayrshire Hermit, he was not a recluse and a visit to his farm was considered a popular outing by young people. Tommy Raeburn died on June 1843, aged 73 years, leaving an estate of £2,400 which was divided amongst his relatives.

(£2400 in 1843 would probably be worth about £78,000 today)