On Remembering and Forgetting

We’ve all heard it – things were different – better, colder, hotter, freer, brighter, cleaner when I were a lad. Many of us will have heard the plaintive – TV might have had only two black and white channels in the fifties, but it was more fun back then. The sun was always shining in the summer and every Christmas was white. Those were the days, these words redolent of so much dismal, elderly reminiscence is something I hope to avoid. Nevertheless my memory is so full of useless flotsam and jetsam; things best forgotten and things better remembered that I believe it is necessary to perform a tidy up.

 How soon has time, the subtle thief of youth,

Stol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year!

 John Milton was a mere stripling – less than a quarter of a century old when he wrote these words. Could he not have waited a few years in before letting us know that the best years of your life are over before you noticed? Or do we all have selective memories? As a Scotsman I recall Wembley 1967, when Jim Baxter played keepie-uppie in the centre circle while the World Champions looked on bemused. I was actually there in Wembley Stadium with my Grandfather. Scotland won, by the way, and we crowned ourselves the unofficial champions of the world. However we conveniently ignore the 9 -3 drubbing and Peter McCoy’s atrocious goal keeping performance a few years later. Forgetting can be a wonderful thing, especially if you are a Scottish football fan.

I know many folk just a few years older than me who can remember exactly where they were when they heard of JFK’s assassination. To my utter chagrin I can’t; in my defence I was only nine years old and more interested in football. I can however take you to within a metre or two of where is sat when I heard that two aircraft had smashed into the twin towers. I can remember with crystal clarity how the rest of that day was spent in horrified befuddlement as the events unfolded live on TV. There really aren’t words that are sufficient to that act; only weeping for the victims and incomprehension of the motives for such a grotesque event.

Perhaps Christina Rossetti was right after all.

Better by far you should forget and smile
         Than that you should remember and be sad.

My work background is in operational meteorology and in my career I have been involved in forecasting for everything from bananas to jumbo jets.I joined the Met Office 1974 as an observer at Glasgow Airport. After training as a forecaster, I worked as an Operational aviation forecaster at various defence sites and airports. In 1982, I moved to Glasgow Weather Centre as a forecaster and STV broadcaster till 1988. He then took up a post as Senior Forecaster London Weather Centre, then Senior Forecaster ITV where I qualified as a trainer in presentation techniques for the ITV Association. After being diagnosed with MS, he moved into management and became Head of London Weather Centre in 1997 followed by a period of front-line management for Southern England and Europe covering London and Cardiff Weather Centres and the Met Offices on defence stations from Akrotiri in Cyprus to St Mawgan in Cornwall. He took up the post of Met Office Chief Advisor for Scotland & Northern Ireland in March 2008 and moved to Edinburgh. I retired in September 2014. My one claim to fame is once performed a comedy sketch on TV with Manuel (Andrew Sachs) from Fawlty Towers in support of Comic Relief.

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