Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Eccentricities, Habits, Life Style Choices, Comfort Zones

This is autobiography.

There are things about myself which I understand by linking them to early experiences. We took a daily newspaper when I was a child and I am pretty sure that among the earliest newspaper headlines I read were those which catalogued Comet air crashes. There were lots of them in the early 1950s. In my child's mind, aircraft became things which crashed. I doubt that my mother did anything to disabuse me; she was full of anxieties and would simply have refused to fly if the opportunity had presented itself. It never did.

So I am not that surprised that for most of my life, flying has been a source of anxiety and, for many years, something which was simply impossible. I flew once in 1967 or 1968 (in a Comet)on a very short haul; I did not fly again until about 1995. Then I flew intensively for a few years, most of it with Ryanair and easyjet on short hauls. I even began to make day trips and I flew in BAs small turbo props, which are surely not for the faint hearted. I ventured as far as Israel, Ukraine, Armenia. I have never flown across the Atlantic.

After several years in which I lost my anxieties, a couple of bad trips put me off. A very bumpy, crowded flight to Dublin; a flight back in a storm from Munich with a loud bang which the person in the next seat told me was lightning striking the plane. I did make a point of flying again soon after that, but then I did not get on a plane for four or five years; I started again in 2009 but made just two trips.

There are other things about myself which I cannot link in an obvious way to things in my past and which I do not really understand.

I live a very silent life. I work at home but almost never play music while I am working. I never, ever listen to the radio. I have a new and fancy home cinema system and in the evenings I watch dvds. But the system has no aerial and is not tuned in to receive TV programmes. I never watch TV and do not have a TV licence. In the past five years, I have watched a handful of programmes: during the UKs recent election, I went to my daughter's to watch one of the Leaders' Debates. Before that, I can't remember what I last watched. Certainly very little after 9/11, which I did watch all day.

My car is equipped with a sophisticated sound system (I bought the car second-hand) but I never play CDs or listen to radio, even on very long journeys across Europe.

I have a landline phone for broadband connection. The phone itself is switched permanently to silent; I don't answer it. If someone rings me on my mobile with Number Witheld, I don't answer it. Most of the time I use text messages and emails to communicate with family, friends and clients. I love sms and email.

So what is this? Is this silent world an eccentricity? A habit which I don't challenge enough? A life style choice, screening out a cacophony of media babble? Or simply my comfort zone, outside which lies anxiety? And, for the purposes of this piece of reflection, why?

That is the question to which I don't have a clear answer. I know that one of my motives for switching my landline phone to silent was my irritation with timewaster calls. Now I listen to the messages but I don't always return the call. The same motive may explain why I don't listen to radio or watch TV: I am too easily irritated by them. Bu that doesn't explain why I listen to so little music when I belong to a generation - and I was part of it - which grew up on rock and roll. So it's not just about irritation.

I am comfortable with my choices, except to the extent that I recognise that they are eccentric. There's the rub: a life style choice which marks me as a bit odd.

1 comment:

  1. I quite like leaving you long answerphone messages saying "pick up, pick up, I know you're there!"

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