Children can tend to roll their eyes whenever events in their parents’ youth are mentioned, most especially films from their parents’ past…
“We’re going to have an 80’s film club,” I announced to the family this weekend. It had just been my birthday and I got two DVDs – one from my brother who remembers the 80s and one from myself. I thought the kids might be interested in broadening their horizons from BTS and Pokemon. They weren’t.
On Saturday afternoon I put Breaking Glass in the DVD player. I was a bit of a Hazel O’Connor fan back in the 80s. My musical taste can only be described as eclectic at the time. It stretched from Wham! to the Jesus and Mary Chain, but most definitely did not include Ultravox [which my kids now play to me on a loop as I made the mistake of tensing when Vienna came on the radio]. Daughter two hardly looked up from her phone and her only comment was about Hazel O’Connor’s make-up – “big mistake”. Daughter three was similarly dismissive, even of the beautiful “Will you”. They were also slightly amused that I knew all the words to all the songs. I pointed out how prescient Hazel O’Connor had been about man-made destruction [“He said behold look what man has done, there’s not a world for anyone…”], though I emphasised the hopeful message at the end – “Hope can be salvaged when all else has died”. I went on a mental health website for kids the other day and the last bulletpoint for what parents can do – “Be hopeful” – has stuck in my mind.
Next on Saturday night came Ordinary People. I loved that film. I was going through a difficult time during my teens and it gave me an overinflated view of the role of counsellors. No-one ever came close to Judd Hirsch. Daughter two did actually watch this one. She agreed it was an acting tour de force and a really layered look at family dynamics at a time of crisis. I’m not sure daughter three was paying attention. She was more interested in the latest message from Jimin [BTS singer]. Daughter one had come to visit – briefly – to pick up some more clothes and a kettle and to have an eye test. The thought of an evening of 80’s film club was not enough to tempt her to stay.
It’s not that I live in the past all the time. I am well up to date with the latest news [too much so], I know every detail of BTS’ lives, I am trying very hard to understand Pokemon and Super Mario. It’s that there is no dividing line between the past and present.The past exists alongside the present and bursts into it at any given time, even when you don’t deliberately go looking for it. It can be a kind of wisdom or warning or hope – or all three at the same time.