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!
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?