Past, present, and future

I spent a day in London this week. Perhaps because I’ve been thinking about blogging, and genealogy and history and people I was struck over and over again by the same past/present/future theme.

We visited the Shard. One of London’s newest buildings, and certainly the tallest. The day was foggy, and we were above the clouds, but I could see Tower Bridge through the mist.

Descending in seconds to ground level, our next stop was the Borough Market and the Market Porter pub. Ancient places of work for Londoners, brought up to date by evolving into a tourist destination as well as a functioning market. The pub maintains its old opening hours, you can buy a pint from 6-8.30am should you choose.

London never stands still. I was a Gamesmaker for the 2012 Olympics, and I haven’t spent much time in the city over the 4 years since, but much of what was shiny and new then is being overtaken by the even shinier and newer. The future is happening all around us. St Paul’s Cathedral flanked by and dwarfing a pair of tower cranes.

My grandmother was born in 1908. In her lifetime we advanced from travelling mainly by foot or by horse, to landing a man on the moon. Her life spanned the 20th Century, but she saw neither the 19th, nor the 21st, as she died in 1997. I loved to hear her stories, but it was my sister who sat down with her, late in her life and drew a family tree of as much as she could remember of her and my grandfather’s families.

At school I thought that history belonged in the past, that it was best kept in an old box, and brought out like a photo album to look at images of the past. My history teacher wasn’t very inspiring, or we weren’t a very receptive bunch. I have a friend who is a wise historian and I have gradually realised that not only does the past have lessons for us, but the past has set the foundations for our present and our future. This is by no means an original thought, but those of us who were not taught by wise historians sometimes take time to come to these conclusions. And frankly I’m quite proud to have figured it out by myself. With a little help from my friend.

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