Like many people I watched some of the Jubilee offerings over the weekend. For me it was special in a personal way as at the end of August I am looking forward to my own Platinum Jubilee. Yes I was born in the year that Her Majesty succeeded the throne. So, all her jubilees have connected to mine.
I have the joy of being a baby-boomer. It is a joy because we boomers have been so lucky- born after the war that cast a shadow for so many years. We’ve lived through times that gradually got better. Our parents and grandparents endured wars and hardships and understood what it meant to fight for democracy. They faced it all because they had to. That stiff upper lip was reinforced by everyone else. Keep calm and carry on wasn’t an ironic jokey slogan, it was a way of dealing with life. Have a cup of tea.
“We were different, going our own way, and no one could stop us.”
And we grew up in the sixties – a time when music, fashion and life were made anew. We really had the sense of changing the world for the better. No longer were young people going to be miniature versions of their parents. We were different, going our own way, and no one could stop us. They didn’t stop us – unbelievably the world conspired to let us be different. We didn’t pay for our higher education, we weren’t rich, but we had money in our pockets. We could buy the latest single or go out for the night.
“There was this norm that everyone had to be, and God help those people who stood outside that norm”
Over these 70 years I think the best thing has been the way we accept people more, we are less deferential, less judgemental (although if you want it you can look for it on social media). I liked school. My teachers cared about me, and they gave me sport, music and theatre out of school hours – they gave me their time. But looking back the pupils at my all-boys school were often sneering of others. The norm would be racist or anti-Semitic jokes, homophobia. Some of them were bullies. There was this norm that everyone had to be, and God help those people who stood outside that norm. That’s the biggest change I have seen. When I watched the Jubilee pageant I saw my country and its diversity, its relaxed acceptance of differences between people. A country more at ease with itself.
We know there are huge challenges and problems in the world, and we are living through difficult times but essentially we know most ordinary people have their hearts in the right place. They know when people are wrong, and they are less afraid to call them out for it and they will lend a hand to help people.
I hope that what we have experienced can be passed on. That sounds patronising and far be it from me to impose my vision on anyone else, but I want people to have a choice. In many countries the citizens do as they are told and, like in my schooldays, they have to obey a norm – even when that norm is sexist, racist or homophobic and is intolerant of disability and religious diversity.
I hope you will forgive me my little rant, but I’d like to feel that the countries of the world can act together as we shall have to – to save the world. An opening up rather than a closing down. A big part of that is dealing with the bullies – the people who are always convinced that they are right even if it means walking on others.
My Jubilee hope is that the good feeling that I have witnessed and watched grow can be built into the future of the world.