Steve Jobs and the Art of Spectacle making.

Steve Jobs and the Art of Spectacle making.

I have changed my mind about ‘Apple’. Steve Jobs was a creative genius and may his soul rest in peace. I watched a program about Steve’s life on TV last night and it just blew me over.

If ever there was proof of ageing stultifying opinions, my previous haughty disdain for any gadget with little buttons, was in the pudding. The proof of the pudding is that very often, people with advancing years resist the jigging about of the younger ones and fresh ideas. It must be a form of dormant jealousy that pops up when it starts to dawn on us, that that’s it, the fag end of life is nigh. There is little I can do about it now except repent and try and improve, become tolerant of little buttons and their pushers. Perhaps take up dancing lessons or knitting.

Years ago, on the train chockers with passengers I once stood up for a woman who looked a bit pale and tired. I was perhaps seventeen and working for Spectacle Makers and Co, a company in Clarence Street. My job was to grind lenses to their prescribed specification. A horribly dirty job that included splashing slurry of water and fine grinding powder on the future lenses of chunks of glass that were fastened on a metal rotating chock with the use of hot tar. It was then a world of concave and convex measurements with strange and exotic workers initiating ceremonies involving blue ultramarine dye rubbed around the novice apprentices’ private parts.

When I stood up, gallantly offering my seat, I was astonished by the reply,’ do I look that bad, she said?’ I mumbled something like’ no-sorry, you look OK’. Of course, I moved carriages and never stood up since, even if they were pregnant and close to breaking waters. The world of convex surfaces taught me a lesson and pregnant women did not break my resolve to remain seated.

Some many years later, with the Balmain local ALP Branch firmly in the hands of right wing crooks and welders of steel containers smuggling drugs and importing loose women, I queued up to renew membership. Suddenly a few large burly blokes entered the Balmain Town-Hall. One came behind me and said ‘make room for a pregnant lady, you poofter.’ I retorted, ‘you are not pregnant and you are not even a woman but could be a poofter’.

Pandemonium broke out, especially when a fire extinguisher was pulled from the wall and hurled through the upstairs window. The police, who were next door never even turned up. They were in cahoots with the punch throwing right-wing thugs. All the women at the meeting turned pale. The member books were stolen, lights switched off and we all (the bleeding left wing faction) adjourned to the local William Wallace for schooners and solace. My bleeding nose was soothed by a woman called Elisabeth, I remember it still. My pain started to wane after the fourth schooner coinciding with Bridie King’s band starting up a wild and tempestuous blues number. It shows that the world of pregnant ladies and my cruel refusal to get up for them in trains finally caught up with me.

It came back to me on the train last week, this time between Mortdale and Central Station. There I was, standing up swaying amongst all the Iphone pushers and shakers. I was hoping a young person would get up and gallantly offer an elderly gent a seat. No, not even a hint of respect, they kept bent over their world of Apps and GPS’s. “It tells me I am on the train”, someone whispered to a friend; really, wow?

Perhaps pregnancy and old age used to be neck and neck during the past when it came to standing up in public transport.

I’ll try it on crutches next time or shall I just faint and dribble a bit?


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9 Responses to “Steve Jobs and the Art of Spectacle making.”

  1. Elisabeth Says:

    I’m not yet sixty but getting close thereto, Gerard, I too wonder what it might be like to have someone offer me a seat on public transport. Recently on a crowded Melbourne tram I noticed a woman who could have been my age through I was sure she was more frail. I had managed to get a seat but I wondered all the while as the tram rattled along how I could orchestrate a seat for her.

    No one else seemed to calculate the seriousness of age or pregnancy from what I could see. It was the luck of the draw as to whether you managed a seat, nothing to do with age or frailty.

    I’m with you as far as acknowledging the strength of new and fresh minds as far as innovation is concerned.

    May my mind and yours – as is evident through your writing here – for ever stay young.


  2. Tincup Says:

    I will always open doors for women, stand up on public transport for a person that clearly needs the seat more than me…especially the elderly…one of my decent qualities is my altruistic and respectful behavior towards the elderly. It is the very young and elders that I seem to relate to more than the middle aged group where I belong.

    As far as technology goes…I have mixed emotions. Technology seems to be a double edged sword on many fronts. If we could harness technology to serve us rather than allowing us serving technology…then we can make good use of the phenomena. Technology can create mass destruction, eliminate jobs, but it can also create something like the Hubble Space Telescope or enable communication and research.


    • helvityni Says:

      Tincup, I believe you Americans are much more polite than Australians…
      Funnily enough when living in Holland (for three years), I used to miss the Aussie friendliness…the Dutchman be very direct, too direct at times.
      In Australia, it’s the younger generation that’s misbehaving…


      • helvityni Says:

        …the Dutchman can be…


      • Tincup Says:

        helvityni, there is the front in America to be friendly in the form of a smile while taking your money. I am talking about a genuine effort to give up a seat for a person that needs it more or opening a door for a lady. I lived in Dusseldorf for five years and got a taste of the German coldness or directness that may also be attributed to the Dutch…but I prefer that to a false form of friendliness. The Aussies I met when traveling through Europe were great people and very friendly, but they would be in their early forties by now…so I don’t know what has become of the new generation down under 😀


      • helvityni Says:

        Yes, Tincup, the main offenders are the youngsters…maybe they are like that everywhere now…
        I sometimes read some American Word press blogs and I’m surprised how civil everybody is, on our local ones I’m sometimes driven to tears, and not necessarily by the young ones 🙂
        I have to also say that where we live, a small country town, people are very helpful and polite…
        Also when travelling overseas, the first ones to strike a conversation with you are usually Aussies, but of course not the very young ones 🙂


      • Tincup Says:

        Civil can be deception. I often find those that disagree simply don’t engage for they think they already know the answer. I prefer more heated discussions followed by a cooling down and reflection period where you may discover you learned something. You hit a point key to one of my beliefs whether it is true or false. Smaller populations or a smaller population is essential to human relations remaining humane. When our number get too large we tend to become desensitized and the power structure that be have the advantage.

        As far as the young go, those approaching 18 or being forced into the workforce…one must ask why they may have an edge or contempt….look at what we have left them 😀


      • helvityni Says:

        Heated is fine, but only if people stick to the subjet matter at hand, ad hominems I can’t handle..
        Pre-teen and and younger teenagers have always horrid, but now the late twenties act worse than the teens of my era 🙂


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    When I offered my seat so many years ago and it was rejected, Australia was a different place. Perhaps the woman was genuinely upset that she was thought of as needing a seat because of her age. She wasn’t old though!
    The incident, like so many others stuck with me, and is probably of no great importance except to write about decades later!
    I hope my mind will remain as agile and alert as yours. I enjoy your writing very much especially when it likes to linger in the world of present and past experiences.


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