Whilst I was out and about today, I dropped into the little shop that sells Filofax refills.
I know these are incredibly old hat, but it's amazing how useful they are when the systems are down.
Anyway, a family tradtion is that I give Mrs. Lear her new diary every year at Christmas. My mother used to do it. I will admit that whereas there used to be 2 pages per week, its now down to one page per week - no appointments for the Ms. Lears for the last quite-a-few years makes the difference.
The lady in the shop was most helpful, insisting that I should look at the cards ( it is a card shop after all).
Quite apart from the ever-increasing risquee-ness, I am astonished at the ever increasing range. Not just get well, new job, sorry, cards for every conceivable birthday, wedding anniversary, anniversary,moving house and on and on ad nauseum, but even " Congratulations on your first day at school."
Ah, me, how life has degraded.
People in my day ( I'm just saying that so you know how old I am) didn't have any of that kind of nonsense.
To give you an example, a friend of mine, now into what I think should be called the end of the beginning of his life, was despatched from the North of Scotland for his first day at his Boarding School.
His mother, a kindly and generous soul, gave him ten shillings ( that's 50p) to get a taxi to take him from the station in the midlands to his " House". The kindliness and generosity was because otherwise he would have had to drag his trunk and tuck box a couple of miles, which at 13 and a half would be quite a job." And don't you stand any nonsense , " she told him "just tell the driver to take you directly there."
And with that she gave him a manly grasp round the shoulders and marched off to catch up with the guests who had left earlier for the grouse moor.
Young Beanpole ( he was then, he is now somewhat more than merely rotund) duly settled down to read the Hotspur, and arrived at his destination, some 9 or 10 hours later.
Feeling very grown up, he organised his trunk into a taxi, settled himself into the back seat and gave the driver the address of his House.
" Can't do that" said the driver.
Now YB was made of pretty stern stuff, and with his mother's words ringing in his ears, he leant forward and said " Now see here, I don't want any nonsense, I just want you to take me directly there."
Nowadays of course this would almost certainly end up with social-workers being called and ASBOs handed out.
But the Taxi driver was of the old school, who tended to do as he was told, and promptly drove to the address. On arrival, he jumped out of the car, dumped the trunk, took the ten bob from YB, and drove off.
YB looked about him.
There was nothing there.
On looking more closely, he discerned a few smoking embers on the other side of the wall that ran along the pavement.
At that point, he opened his tuck box, took out the ginger pop and ginger bread, sat on the box and started to guzzle. The shades of night started to gather around him.
What had happened was that the House had burned down during the night.
Of course, no-one had thought for one instant to tell the parents. After all, schools and teachers actually were properly in loco parentis. YB was eventually found, still sitting there, about an hour later.
I'm not sure YB even told his mother - she would probably have given him a clip round the ear for making up stories.