Sunday, August 24, 2008

Iain Dale's Meme - What were you doing when.....?

I've never really understood what a meme was. I looked it up on Wikipedia once and lost the will to live.

Basically in blogging terms it's one of these quiz things that one person asks and then tags loads of other people to do it. Iain Dale, the Tory one, not my tribute blog started one off asking what people were doing at the time of certain great world events. No doubt I am committing some huge blogging sin by answering it before I was tagged to do so, but I never was one for convention. I just liked the look of it and thought I'd have a go.

So, here are my answers to his questions:

What were you doing when......

Princess Diana died, 31st August 1997.

I was lying in bed as it was my habit at that time never to get out of bed on a Sunday morning until Alastair Cooke's Letter from America was finished. The alarm was set to go off 10 minutes before it was due to begin. When the alarm came on, I was vaguely aware as I stirred into consciousness of someone saying something about the Royal Family being in mourning. I assumed that the Queen Mother had gone, like you would, and basically turned over to get back to sleep. When I heard the words "those two boys", I was out of bed like a shot and down the stairs. I put the tv on and couldn't quite take in why people were laying flowers at Kensington Palace so I checked on the Teletext.

I will admit to being one of the many millions who found her death hard to deal with. As a not entirely happy teenager, she had been a bit of an idol for me. As I became an adult and understood some of the pressures she had been under and some of the complexity of her character, I had a huge amount of sympathy for her. She didn't need to bother with land mines and stuff like that - she could have pocketed the divorce settlement and gone shopping for the rest of their lives. Yes, good, ordinary people die every day without the same fuss being made of them - at the time a friend of mine lost a colleague in a terrible road accident, which was an equally awful thing to happen. Diana's death hit me a bit simply because she had been my teenage idol - in much the same way as so many Celtic fans were devastated at the death of Tommy Burns earlier this year.

I guess the other thing to say is that Diana's death represents the one and only time I have ever been touched by anything Tony Blair said.

Margaret Thatcher's Resignation 22 November 1990

I was doing a college oourse at the time and as soon as I found out that she had gone, I actually skived off the rest of the day to go and watch the news coverage. Being a softie, I did feel a bit sorry for her. I thought the Tories were pretty much rotten to the core anyway and a change of leader wasn't going to do them any favours.

Not everything Margaret Thatcher did was bad, but I see every week people having to deal with the consequences of the selling off of Council houses - now we have an appalling shortage of social housing at a time when many people are mortgaged up to the eyeballs and repossessions are going to hit.

We are still suffering the hangover of the years of underinvestment in crucial public services and, as an aside, I think we as a Party need to deal with that before we start talking about reducing the overall burden of taxation.

Attack on the Twin Towers 11 September 2001

Anna was just over 2 at the time and we'd been to our Toddler Group. I came home and turned on the tv to watch Teletubbies, as I think it was her programme of choice at that time, to see what was going on. I phoned my husband at work and told him what was going on. His former boss, who was deeply unpleasant at the best of times, growled at him that he should just get on with his work. Uncharacteristically he had the good grace to apologise the next day once he had seen for himself the scale of the attacks.

I think my emotions were both of horror at what was going on, but even greater fear about what George W Bush would do in retaliation.

England's World Cup Semi Final against Germany, 4 July 1990

I can't remember why, but I watched it in a pub in Newbury with my husband and some friends. I think it was the first time in my life that I had got emotionally involved in wanting England to win.

Assassination of President Kennedy 22 November 1963

I wasn't born - I shall have to ask my husband what he was doing.

There are a few other events that shook me to the core, so I thought I'd add them to Iain's list

Dunblane Shooting - 13 March 1996

This was the horrendous shooting of 16 primary 1 children and their teacher by teacher. I was working, in Worksop in Notts, when my boss (I had a nice compassionate boss at that time, as now) came through and told us all what had happened. I think his wife had told him. We were all so shocked and stunned.

The reality of it really dawned on me years later when I had to leave Anna at school - I would have no control over what happened to her. At least if I was with her and anything bad happened, I would have a shot at trying to protect her, but I had to hand her over to other people who would be responsible for her. There is nothing anyone can do in the face of a random gunman, though.

I have never been able to understand the NRA lobby in the States - to me guns = dead people and we do have a right to be very careful about who we allow to use them.

Lockerbie Plane Crash - 21 December 1988

This was the day we moved into our house in Ayrshire. We were surrounded by boxes and heard huge numbers of sirens. We lived a good hour, if not more from Lockerbie, but our local emergency services must have been sent down there. It was a very shocking and awful loss of life. We had moved onto an Estate not dissimilar to the one where the plane crashed. A few more moments and the plane would have been over us.

Elvis Presley's death - 16th August 1977

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of family holidays we had when I was growing up - I think this was number 2 of 3. We went to spent 4 nights with my Great Aunt Vera and Great Uncle Sandy at their then home in Blanefield in what must now be East Dunbartonshire. Bob and I went back there to try to find her house a few years back but couldn't. If the truth be told, I didn't much care for Elvis or his music - I have more time for it now but I didn't think it was that great. News of his death broke on the last day of our holiday. I can remember my parents being quite shocked about it all. It wasn't until I got to school the next week that I found that one of my friends was devastated at the loss of her idol.

I'm not going to tag anyone else - in true Liberal fashion, feel free to take this one up if you want to.


Steph Ashley said...

My understanding of the original sense of the word meme is something like this: it is something which is spread from person to person which changes their behaviour or impels them to start doing a certain thing (like, say, skating), but unlike a gene or virus, it's not a physical thing - more an intangible sense that something is cool or desirable.

It's not surprising that its meaning has grown to encompass these particular spreads of blogging 'writers block aids' (not writers blockades, though that would be interesting..) Everyone who keeps a blog knows someone who is prolific in their output and never seems to run dry of ideas - and we all want to be that person. So when someone comes up with a 'fill in the blanks' option for us, a ready-structured post, it's just too tempting to do them to 'keep your hand in' while you're working on other more original ideas.

I'd love to do this one, but only three of those dates are since I left primary school, so I'm going to have to pass!

Caron said...

Steph, thanks for that - a good explanation, but, oh, you do know how to make someone feel really old.


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