Saturday, 8 January 2011

Sepia Saturday: Time, Travel, and Twain

This post, originally published in August, 2009, pre-dates my discovery of the excellent Sepia Saturday. I think (with a little editing) it should probably make a reappearance, here.

One of my favourite Mark Twain quotes is, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

I think I like it for two reasons. First of all, I feel slightly distanced from it in that my father wasn't around when I was growing up, so at 21 I somehow felt exempt from ever having been a callow youth – although, of course, I had been as callow as the next. Secondly, it's just a great quote to pull out when you're into your middle-years. By this time, if few people credit you with having attained any real wisdom, they might at least be impressed by the fact that you can quote Mark Twain verbatim!

Unconventional Grandmother, with youth emerging from callow into yellow

The night before this post was originally published, BBC Four screened the Woodstock movie on the 40th anniversary of the event. But it had also been 40 years since the first man landed on the moon and the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

In his own youth, my grandfather was assured that any notion of a man travelling to the moon should be  regarded as little more than nonsense, sheer science-fiction. As it happened, he witnessed the lunar experience in 1969 from the comfort of his armchair along with many of us. But for him, Woodstock, The Beatles and their like must have seemed as distant as the stars.

Strange though, to think that if I referred to anyone over thirty as 'grandad', I never made a direct association with my own grandfather. So what was I saying in those days when our generation thought it had all the answers? Something for the psychologists and sociologists to clear up, or back to Mark twain?

17 comments:

  1. What a fantastic photo, love the car,your dark hair and beard but most of all I love your poses; what a wonderful grandmother you had. You must have had a close relationship with her, somehow this shows in the photo.
    I think the quote is so good, I have always thought it was brilliant. I don't really remember what I thought of my parents when I was growing up but this quote certainly is true of my daughter and how she thought of us!

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  2. What a quote! But would it have the same cachet if applied to grannies and granddaughters? I thnk not... could this be that little girls grow up so fast, there is less distinction between the generations?!
    Or perhaps I'm merely a granny who's reached a state of second childhood, and can't tell the difference?

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  3. I love Mark Twain quotes! And that is a brilliant photo.

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  4. I think if Mark Twain learned that about his father by the age of 21, he was doing very well. For many, it's a much longer journey!! Love the picture, Martin. And your granny looks great.

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  5. I always love your Sepia Saturday posts, Martin. They remind me of my own life back home in Derbyshire. I remember watching the moon landing on TV. My own paternal grandfather said it was all a trick, they never went there. Hmmm?

    Nice post, Martin.

    Weekend wishes to you and yours.

    Paul

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  6. And how ironic to know that my own children suspect that the moon walk was done in some back lot soundstage and not real at all.

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  7. Sure, Mark had the answer - it's all there in the quote.

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  8. Oh, yes, Twain was a wise fellow. Love the picture of you and your grandmother -- you look very much like my brother at the same age.

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  9. Now it strikes me that it is YOU are the grandfather and will soon be reaquainted with the callowness of youth.

    That is one fab car, Martin. And the yellow shirt's not bad either!

    Kat

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  10. That picture says more than a thousand words to me, apt and interesting though your words are. (And what a fantastic aerial that car had, looping over it!)

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  11. marvelous photo....and one of my all time fav twain quotes....such a wit....just pursued a friend's copy of the new (twain)autobiography and it 's a must have!! check it out if you are a sam-o-phile

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  12. When I was a teenager and first heard that wonderful quote, I scoffed with all-knowing wisdom. Many years later when my own teenager stood in front of me and exclaimed, "Mum, you don't understand anything!", the import of Mark Twain's wise words stuck home.

    Terrific post, Martin. The callow youth has turned into a lovely man.

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  13. I don't think I have read this excellent post before, so perhaps it dates from before I discovered what is one of the best blogs around. And there is something beautifully balanced about the photograph.

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  14. i would have this pic blown-up large and framed to stand proudly somewhere in the house. nice memory!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  15. great phot, and one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes as well!

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  16. I was struck by the photo: was it posed or did you both just naturally stand with your arms folded? My father often folded his arms that way and in several photos (when I was a youth) I imitated him just to tease him. I don't think he ever got it. Great post!

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  17. That is a smashing photo! Your Twain quote reminded me of a saying my wife's grandfather had. It went :- Twenty knows, and thirty thinks he knows, and forty asks his Dad.

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