Coupland is 54, a few years older than me and, like me lucky enough to have actually owned a pre-internet brain and can therefore compare past and present. It's quite a concept and makes me feel privileged to have been born in the 1960's, a generation of children who may well have been the last lot to grow up in a world of self-discovery and wonder, curiosity and creativity as well as in my case anyway, hunger and quite a bit of deprivation. I didn't know I was deprived though so it didn't really matter. I knew I was hungry quite a lot but then I just assumed everyone else was as well. Wasn't it a great feeling to see your big brother walk up the road with a rabbit tucked in his belt, or to not get caught whilst scrumping? (Younger people will need to google)
A big joy of childhood was the library, a big quiet building where one could wander for ages and ages and go home with lots of dusty books under your arm. (yes, yes, today you know exactly what you want to read, you've seen the reviews online and a pristine book will arrive wrapped in a box) I still love the library, I still sit down in my Lloyd Loom chair and retreat into the world of 11th century Paris or Tudor England or anywhere in the world at any time at all for that matter, even space if I feel so inclined. The library today though is a noisy affair with lots of bleeping going on and people talking into their laptops. Old people shuffle about too embarrassed to ask how to actually borrow their books as the machine has replaced the librarian.
In my day my friends and I on the rare occasions that rain stopped play, would idle away time colouring in. That meant using colouring pencils to colour in pictures in a book. Now, that's an exercise in 'mindfulness.'
The thought of being stuck indoors was a frightful one. Why would anyone want to do that? There were, (still are actually) trees to climb, rivers to swim, orchards to strip, fields to scour. I think I spent about a third of my childhood in swimming pools, proper swimming pools with a proper deep end, not namby- pamby shallow 'safe' boring drips that pretend to be pools today.
Then there was school, Primary School was good fun, Secondary School not so much but I did learn a lot. Curiously although I hated Physics, my teacher to my hilarity was called Mr Grime, I learned an awful lot although didn't realise it at the time. Who knew flow tanks would have been so helpful?
I wasn't allowed the luxury of further education and went to work in London just short of my sixteenth birthday. At twenty I was promoted to a Chief Referencing Officer, fancy being a chief of anything at that tender age. My job was to travel across all of the London Boroughs collating evidence of land ownership. This would see me chatting to a Lord and Lady in Kensington one day and a big burly gypsy on a caravan site the next. I loved that job and it has stood me in good stead as a researcher.I expect all the information I found by trawling around with my pencil and pad can now be found on the internet, not so the myriad of stories behind the facts however.
Nearly thirty years later, my pre-internet brain is shared with my post internet brain.
Today as I walked around the park with my dog I came across a lot of young mums pushing their babies in their buggies. Ducks, swans, herons, cormorants, woodpeckers, parakeets, tits, a sly fox all totally ignored, bright orange and red crinkly leaves left underfoot and not kicked up in delight, squirrels left alone to squirrel their nuts. All the while the babies moaned and the mums listened to music or talked loudly into their hands-free sets.
The dog trod in a sticky pile of something and was covered in burrs, as I extricated them I realised my hand was covered in poo. I had my wellies on so climbed down the old roots of a tree into the stream and splashed about as I washed my hands, I dried them on a waxy leaf... much to the horror of a lady walking by who politely passed me a packet of disinfectant wipes.