Friday, 9 August 2013

I've just re-read an old favourite. Jack Finney's collection of short stories 'About Time'. The tales are all set around the time of the late '50s, early '60s in the USA, JF being an American author with cultural concerns. The hero usually works for an ad company and commutes to the big city with briefcase, suit and, oh yes, trilby hat.
However, in all the stories the main protagonists do not like the time they're living in, but yearn for (and usually get, through some sort of time travel) an earlier period, round about the '20s and 30's when life was a lot slower and by inference, cleaner and better. They speak lovingly of open-topped bullnosed automobiles, dollars that buy a lot more and trams that go dinga-ling-ling. Nostalgia.

Funny thing is - well, not so funny, perhaps pathetic? - the time his heroes are desperate to escape from is the time I send my heroes back to when I write similar stories. To me the '50s and early '60s were a lot slower and cleaner, and by inference, much better than now. I guess the golden time is childhood for many of us - not all, I grant, for some had an unhappy time of it - but certainly for me. The summers were hotter, the winters cold but crisp and snowy, the books I read more amazing, running across the fields and fishing in the streams more exciting than bashing away on a keyboard. JFs heroes go back to their childhood years as adults, but me, I'd like to go back and be a kid again in the same era. Yeah, a bit pathetic.

PS The picture has nothing to do with the text. I just like it.

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