Saturday, 3 July 2010
Are" Friends" Electric
She asked if I'd seen anyone come into the allotment, I said no. I asked what was in her handbag, "You know, it's a woman thing - everything. My car keys, my house keys, my mobile, cash credit cards and the key to the allotment - I can't get out." We had a look in her shed. she'd trashed it looking for her handbag. "It was in the shed",she said. "Would anyone see it?" I asked. "Yes, the shed door was open." I looked with her. "A fresh pair of eyes", I suggested. And so it was. I went to the spot where she'd been picking her broad beans and looking at 45 degrees I spied the bag. "A new pair of eyes." I repeated.
She had approached me in an almost matter a fact manner. An innocent question behind which lay a storm sea of anxiety. Her car keys, house keys, credit cards all snatched in an instant and who knows to what effect. Into her car, to her house, logging onto her computer; accessing names and addresses of loved ones, reading e-mails. Rifling through drawers, stringing the cat up, smashing the loo - all this could happen in her (and my) mind. But it didn't. The keys and credit cards were in her handbag by the strawberries.
But for an instant that horrifying primordial fear struck and all the demons reared up: and then they were gone.
We think we're so far from the black nights and phantoms; the sudden sound and the torn guts or snapped neck. All our safeguards, regulations, risk assessment give us the sense that we control and understand our environment. Shit, we created it.
But we don't. However much we predict, forecast and prepare; we are going to be hit from behind. All we have then is our native guile and intelligence. Those skills and instincts honed on the savannah of Africa, in the ice fields of Europe, in the deserts of Asia. That is what we end up relying on: but for many of us, me certainly, those skills are long dormant. My life has been predictable; childhood, education,work, retirement all mapped out. Not by me but by social forces. Government; trade unions, employers and an orderly market.
So here I sit, cocooned in a massively interconnected world. Each part dependant on many other parts to keep it functioning. We do this connectivity because....it benefits us all.. our effort is repaid a hundred fold and so it goes...and so it goes. Except, someone, somewhere, may ask why. What happens if this bit of the network is interrupted?
Well, if that happens let's hope you and I can remember the colour of the savannah grass and how it feels to outrun the hyenas.