Friday, 12 September 2008

Where were you..?

Gracchii tagged me in a politics meme, so I thought I'd comply. It's quite interesting to reflect on this, although a pattern definitely emerges. Plus it enables me to get up another post this morning and leave for the library fairly promptly. So here goes.

Where were you when you heard about…

The Death of Princess Diana: I was at home with my parents (this will be a bit of running theme, since all these events happened before or very shortly after my eighteenth birthday). I was vaguely waking up when it started to dawn on my mother that all was not as it usually was on Radio 4. Like many people I suppose, we assumed at first that the Queen Mother must have died and were terribly surprised when it turned out to be Diana. I remember being very relieved that it hadn’t happened the day before, because that would have been on my father’s birthday, and equally relieved that the funeral was on the 6th September and not the 5th, because that would have been my birthday. That probably makes me sound rather selfish, but my thirteen-year old self quickly became tired of the extent to which the nation poured out its grief on a woman most of them had never met, and never would have met. To be honest, I suspect my twenty-four year old self would have the same reaction. Whether the nation would or not is perhaps a more interesting question.

Margaret Thatcher's resignation 22nd November 1990: I was at home, since I was only seven at the time. I do remember it though, in fact it was probably one the first major political events of which I was aware. I sometimes think how odd it is that people of my age have one of a couple of big 'end of an era' landmarks as their first political memory, usually either Thatcher to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Attack on the Twin Towers 11th September 2001: Again, at home, only a few weeks before I left for Cambridge for the very first time. I think I had just come home from work (I was selling ice cream at a Stately Home that summer, the long summer after I finished school) and I was talking to a friend on the phone. My mother came home from the supermarket and had heard about it on the radio in the car, so she just walked through the door and turned the television on. I wouldn’t say this event politicised me, but coming only a week after my eighteenth birthday it was certainly heralded the start of the era in which I tried to think properly about what happens in the world. Even though I used to read the newspaper every day, I don’t think I’d even been properly aware before that Bush was a Republican President and what that meant for America and for the rest of the world.

England vs Germany World Cup Semi-Final 1990: This was the first football match I ever watched. Come to think about it, it is one of only about three that I have ever watched, and most of those seem to have been England vs Germany World Cup/Euro. I was too young to stay up the end so I had to go to bed at half time. I don't think I missed much.

President Kennedy's assassination 22nd November 1963: As I am sure you will have realised by now, this happened twenty years before I was born. Actually, it kind of comes as a surprise to realise it is only twenty years, since it seems to belong to a much more distant era – I suspect as a result of the combination of black and white television and because I don’t remember much until the mid-1990s. I do, however, remember my mother telling me several times that she had as a twelve-year old heard about it from a neighbour walking home from school with her twin sister, and I remember being surprised that something political could happen that had people telling each other about it in the streets. Then of course September 11th happened and provided the same moment for my generation.

I tag Doug to continue this further, largely because I want to see if any of these have any resonance for an Australian, plus anyone else who feels so inclined.


Magic Cochin said...

Interesting read OV.
I remember finding out about Diana's death - we'd just got a dial up modem hooked up to a computer at home but had yet to try surfing the web. The evening before someone had recommended looking at the CNN site, so very early on Sunday morning and still in our jymjams we logged on and there on the screen in giant letters were the words 'Diana dead in Paris crash'. Woooah! was this some sort of sick joke?
A moment we'll never ever forget!


coelacanth said...

Diana for me - my friend told me on the phone (while I was at home with my parents).

My response: 'Pft. As if. You expect me to fall for that?'

Gracchi said...

Sal interesting list- its odd I had the same reaction to Diana in that I couldn't get that upset about it. I still treasure the fact that the FT reported it on an inside page- preferring to note that the DOW had fallen that day!

artyprat said...

I'll have a go at this meme:

1) Diana - I was at home, reading Teletext about 7a.m. Ran and woke my parents up to tell them. It did seem really weird: what was she doing in Paris? Who was this Dodi? We were so innocent!

2) Twin Towers - I was working in a warehouse packing boxes of charity cards in the summer vacation. The radio was on, so we heard the news. We didn't believe it. It was a movie stunt or it was a spoof. It wasn't until 5 p.m. when my mum collected me and confirmed it, that it was real. Until then, my image of the U.S.A. had been that it was a safe and hospitable country. How things change.

3) England vs Germany - no idea, no worries. No interest in sport, ever!

4) Kennedy - Oddly enough when people have mentioned pivotal moments in the 1960s to me, they talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis most. My dad remembers readings of Revelations at school, as they felt the world WAS about to end. One of my old teachers remembered staying up late to listen to the radio, being convinced that at any minute a Nuclear War would start.