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Mother in Law

This weekend we were in Nottinghamshire to celebrate the 75th birthday of my partner's mum. The journey back to Manchester takes a couple of hours through spectacular Derbyshire valleys and woods, and there's nothing like an awesome view to give a bit of perspective on life. I was thinking about Joan's generation and the admirable qualities they have and the changes they have experienced over the duration of their lives. Things that must have seemed etched in stone as certainties evaporating over the decades. Like many women of her age, she is completely selfless, putting everyone before her. She is about as non-materialistic as it is possible to be, not lusting or craving 'things'. She was born just before the second world war, growing up as a child in a time of austerity, then thrown into a period of nearly full employment as an adult. The roles of men and women were very distinct and clearly defined, for better or worse. The world was in many ways much more physical, most people's jobs were hands-on especially in this neck of the woods where mining was the main industry. People used the high street, walking from shop to shop rather than driving to a supermarket or ordering groceries online. The garden fence was the Facebook of it's day, and people still congregated in the local for a drink at the end of the day. If I was Joan I'd feel quite perplexed if not cheated by the world of today. The town she lives in had it's industry removed in the Thatcher years after a prolonged strike that caused hardship and conflict. This has led to an employment void for years leaving social problems still resonating today. The high street is more or less completely gone, the corporate vampire Tesco draining the last drops of strength by opening a huge two storey mega store on the edge of town. Ironically siting a statue of a miner at it's entrance. Many of the pubs have closed or are struggling to survive. The town is sadly a shadow of it's former self. However Joan and her contemporaries have experienced worse hardships and wouldn't dream of complaining. Personally I take inspiration from her values and attitude, and intend to be a little more like her from now on. Happy birthday Joan!


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