Day 17 — Gran’s lifetime: under a century

Today would have been my Gran’s 97th birthday. I’ve used that as the impetus for this pome.

WARNING: it is quite long; probably the longest I’ve ever posted for NaPoWriMo (though my anti-Jazz rant was up there). If you choose to skip to the last stanza, I’ll quite understand, & you’ll still get the general gist hahaha.

*****

Gran’s lifetime: under a century

1. Introduction
It infuriates me when people say
oh we can’t change things too much
think of our economy : et ceterablah!

2. Birth Year
In 1924 : the year after : the invention
of TV : the British Empire : is still 
gleefully : exploiting her colonies :
Australia has been an actual country 
for only 23 years : the USA only has
48 states : Adolf Hitler is still in prison :
the Winter Olympics begin : commercial 
radio is first broadcast : the first aerial 
circumnavigation of the world 
is completed : in only 175 days (today 
it takes a little over 2 days : 50 hours)
surrealism is born : movies are still 
silent : & Hubble blows up the universe
discovering : Andromeda is not
a nebula : as long thought : but another 
galaxy : & that the Milky Way : itself 
is only one : of many

3. The Not Quite 100 Years Following
in the succeeding : century
the twenties roar : jazz begins torturing 
eardrums everywhere : before causing
a great depression : nazis somehow
convince an enlightened society 
to eat itself : the USSR rises & falls
we fight a second World War : 
a Cold War : & a War on Terror 
we invent : drop : then are terrified 
by atomic bombs : stop drop & roll :
you’ll still die : but you’ll feel like 
you tried : bikinis make babes 
into bombshells : boomers are born : with a bang
& immediately begin : annoying everyone :
teenagers are invented : along with rock 
n roll : the Holocaust continues 
to horrify us : but later genocides 
get less attention : as ours grow ever shorter

Gandhi marches for salt : Mao takes 
a long one : we promise two new states 
but only officially make one : leading 
to years of unrest : dozens of countries 
shake off : shackles : declare independence

we orbit the earth : & bounce on the moon
pocket calculators : are briefly a big thing
scientists genetically engineer organisms 
(bacteria then mice) : a child is born 
via : in vitro fertilisation ; the culture counters 
revolts against war : conservatism : 
oppression : patriarchy : sexuality

Pong is considered cutting edge :
Commodore 64 wows the world 
with a massive 64K of memory :
the first Macintosh then smashes 
that paltry amount by : doubling it :
Gameboys : Rubik makes a cube

gramophones : give way : to record 
players : to cassette tapes : to compact 
discs : to mp3 : to online streaming 
from the cloud

computers shrink : from buildingesque
then : room-sized : to being : our personal 
playthings : then laptops : mobile phones : 
smart phones : tablets : iWatches
chips are implanted : in our bodies
hidden : in COVID vaccinations*

mobiles shrink : from the size 
of bricks : to fitting into pockets 
& are on their way : back up to brick

multinational corporations :
became the most important entities : on earth
free trade agreements : bloom
like mushrooms : from the dung 
of laissez faire economic policy :
stock markets crash numerous times 
& are salvaged : poor people are demonised
banks go bankrupt : & are bailed out : 
poor people are blamed : for being poor
supertanker container ships : begin 
impersonating small cities 
& pumping out : the equivalent in emissions
the assembly line : makes production 
massive : & turns men into machines
archaea are classified as a new : 
separate : domain of life

we survive Y2K … easily

we transplant hearts : break 
the sound barrier : genetically modify 
crops : map the human genome :
use X-rays see inside ourselves : 

we invent: satellites : Concorde : Skylab 
(even though it falls on us) : the ISS :
high-speed rail : container ships :
& buildings really start scraping the sky

as well as: Velcro : Tupperware : Frisbees : 
The Slinky : modern Solar cells : the pill : 
AstroTurf : ultrasound : the CDC 6600 
supercomputer : ATMs : MRIs : 
email : earlier than you think (’71)
face lifts : stainless steel : silicone : 
polystyrene : PVC : polyethylene
& nylon : & multiple other plastics : plus
thousands of chemicals : for industrial 
& domestic use (though whether these last
are good : or not : is debatable)

develop : radar : transistors : ballistic 
missiles : jet aircraft : commercial television : 
commercials (sadly) : microwave ovens : 
hydraulic fracturing : lasers : fibre optics : 
radiocarbon dating

discover : black holes : quasars : parallel 
universes : mechanics who can repair 
your quantum while you wait : that everything 
began in a Big Bang : (probably) : DNA’s
double-helix; the Cosmic microwave
background radiation : penicillin

scientists develop vaccines for : polio : 
measles : influenza : diphtheria : 
pertussis (whooping cough) : tetanus : 
measles : mumps : rubella (German
measles) : chickenpox : hepatitis A & B 
& eradicate smallpox in 1979 

we survive : eruptions : quaking earth : 
strong winds of a multitude of kinds : 
droughts : plane crashes : bridge collapses : 
train derailments : nuclear reactor 
meltdowns : space shuttle explosions : 
a litany of oil & energy crises : the rise 
& fall of Berlin’s Wall : toxic gas leaks : 
oil tankers spilling their guts 

we fight a lot of wars : a barrage 
of wars : police actions : emergencies : 
civil unrests : invasions : genocides : 
& miscellaneous conflicts of all ilks.
protests : separatist movements : 
revolutions : dictatorships : martial 
laws imposed & revoked : coups d’état : 
military coups : run of the mill coups 
& attempted coups : takeovers : insurrections : 
assassinations : uprisings both popular 
& not : riots : troubles : tensions : 
& detentes : aerial bombardments : 
battles : bombs : suicide bombers : 
terrorist attacks : incidents : 
massacres : boycotts : blockades : 
systems actively designed to 
discriminate (some were even 
abolished : well one)

even the occasional peace treaty

*one of these things is not like the others

4. Commonplace Things We Take for Granted
washing machines : clothes dryers : 
air-conditioners : exercise machines : 
refrigerators : freezers : electric 
stoves : vacuum cleaners : cars ;
& a handful of magic devices allow us 
to experience knowledge : gossip :
stupidity : & even extraordinary content
from around the world — so much great 
literature : artwork : music : dance : & cinema 
it’s impossible to list even a fraction of it

5. Technologies Which Have Become Obsolete Since Gran Was Born
8mm : Super 8 : Hi-8 : analog slides (along with slide projectors & hand-held slide viewers) : overhead projectors : analog film : including photo developing : film splicing : disposable film cameras : Kodak itself for that matter : photo albums : flash cubes : photo booths : one hour photo saloons : & (almost) printed photographs : 8 tracks : cassettes : DAT : walkmen : diskmen : vinyl records (except for DJs) : MP3 players : minidiscs : boomboxes : VCRs (VHS & Beta) : floppy disks : Zip drives : CDs : DVDs : Blu-rays : LaserDiscs (oh that’s right : they were a thing : briefly) : telegrams : dial up modems : phone books : rotary phones : landlines (almost) : answering machines : phone booths : cathode ray tvs : pagers/beepers : dot matrix printers : fax machines : typewriters : encyclopaedias : card catalogs : punch cards : classified ads : street directories : road maps : alarm clocks : calculator watches : pin ball machines : space invaders : pac man : 

6. Jobs Which Have Become Obsolete Since Gran Was Born
Breaker Boy : Cigarette Girl : Clock Winder : Copy Boy : Dictaphone Operator : Elevator Operator : Film Projectionist : Ice Cutter : Knocker-Upper : Lamplighter : Lector : Leech Collector : Log Driver : Manual Part Loading : Milkman : Mimeograph Operator : Pinsetter : Rag & Bone Man : Rat Catcher : Sandman : Sawyer : Street Sweeper : Switchboard Operator : Telegraph Operator : Typesetter : Typing Pool : VCR Repairman : Video Store Clerk : indeed entire industries devoted to record stores & videocassette/DVD rentals : not to mention entire industries related to horse-drawn transportation : not mention no doubt many others: i’ve failed to mention

7. The Argument
& if you haven’t read every single word
of this poem i quite understand
i was deliberately belabouring 
relabouring & overlabouring a point
by listing the many many many many things
we’ve changed in under a 100 years
& many in much less than that

so don’t fucking tell me we can’t change
now — & fast

2 thoughts on “Day 17 — Gran’s lifetime: under a century

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