…mean to you? How do you view the difference between change and improvement?Are you someone who accepts the inevitability of change, or are you someone who blanches at the thought of changing something that is well-known and rather comfortably understood for something that is often one great, confusing mystery – when does change not become an improvement to the status quo of living? Consider the monumental changes during the 20th century, many of which can hardly be considered to have improved people’s existence; contemplate the modern world of electronics and instant communication.
If I had shown my grandfather a telephone the size of a playing card, he would have scoffed. If I had taken a picture with it, placed it next to a computer the size and thickness of little more than one of the upper-end glossy magazines, he would have scratched his head. If I had told him that something called e-mail would move it from ‘phone to computer, he have thought me totally daft. If he had known that the instant message had travelled those few inches from phone to laptop via Miami, Ulan Bator or goodness knows where else, he would probably have dialled 999 and asked for help!
Not as daft as it seems – who else amongst you can remember a ‘mobile’ telephone the size of a house brick?
Credibility is another thing often subject to change – what was once an unquestioned truth is now subject to a scrutiny that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. So, all things considered, what does change actually mean to any of us?
Recently, I conducted the East Grinstead Concert Band during the ceremony in which HRH Princess Anne unveiled a statue of the pioneering surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe. The advances he and his team brought to the practise of plastic surgery, through the reconstruction of severely disfigured Allied airmen at the town’s Queen Victoria Hospital during the Second World War, changed and continues to change countless lives for the better.
A century ago to the day, August 4th 1914, who would have thought that the conflict, which was predicted to be over by Christmas, would have such devastating and long-ranging effects on the entire planet? In our own time, there is the question of the change in our climate…
Being an Italophile and having one eye on retirement, I recently visited Bagni di Lucca. Enthused with that same spirit of exploration that sent armies of my fellow Anglo-Saxons to all corners of the globe, I set off from Lucca station with the anticipation of viewing the sites, especially the historic Royal Casino, Nottolini’s splendidly imposing Chain Bridge over the River Lima, the famous Ponte a Serraglio, and also of paying my respects at the English Cemetry.
At the end of a tiring day, sitting back on the platform of Bagni di Lucca railway station, I started to ponder the question of change in this peaceful part of the world. The River Lima, as it winds its way through the towns that make up what I now understand to be the larger Bagni di Lucca area, must have seen many changes over the years. Sitting on the platform of the attractively maintained station, it seemed clear that there had once been a garden area attached, presumably for the enjoyment of the flood of important, wealthy visitors who once frequented the famous thermal springs in the nearby towns. Sadly now somewhat overgrown, the outlines of the garden are still there, as are the well-established trees, but any sense of grandure has now gone: another instance of the fortunes of change? As I sat in the late afternoon warmth, I pondered how a return to the brighter lights of an earlier era might change the peaceful tranquillity of the area – would an increased flow of tourists be for better or worse? Perhaps in our instantaneous world, where so many seem to expect everything at the push of a button and to have it in their hand the day before yesterday, finding places such as those of the Bagni di Lucca area is one of the more rewarding aspects of change – or should that be reversion to a less hectic, more measured way of life?
As the train for Lucca came to a stop and I climbed aboard, it seemed to me that the towns of this particularly appealing area of a beautiful country really are something of jewels in the crown: perhaps not being in the mainstream of change is not such a bad thing after all. For my part, I’ll be back again at the end of this year to do the whole thing all over again.