If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?
If my grandmother came back for a visit, she’d be shocked rigid by modern society and everything in it, including me, my place of abode, the way I dress and my lifestyle, which she would doubtless consider hedonistic. Not that rigidity would be wildly abnormal, for her. She believed implicitly in upper-middle-class Victorian values, including a straight spine and a stiff upper lip. The sad thing is that I know there was so much more there that I never saw.
My parents, on the other hand… Oh how I wish! They wouldn’t be shocked by anything. They’d be bug-eyed with excitement and so would I, falling over myself to cram everything into one visit.
Look, Mum, this is a computer, and if you press this…and this… Did you ever imagine…?
Yes, Dad, the PM is an elitist $%*!, and he’s cut the ABC budget… At which my father would go ballistic, having fought tooth and nail against previous cuts when he was ABC Chairman. But I’ve still got my fishing rod, Dad, and yours, as it happens…
They’d be delighted that I’m living where I always said I would – in the little seaside town where we had our summer holidays. But what, they’d say, happened to your writing ambitions?
Life, I’d say. Life’s what happened.
But then again, what would I know? Maybe they see them more clearly than I do, every day. In which case, a few tips from their unfailing store of wisdom would be hugely appreciated.