Thursday, April 23, 2009

We Like What We've Seen And It's Stove Pipe Jeans

Two posts ago I wrote about my intention to do a restoration on an OK Dinghy (International sailing dinghy class). One of the photographs I posted was of myself standing in front of my new OK dinghy in 1968. It was one of three photographs all of which complemented the information about this class of yacht in the body of the posted text.

As with blog posts, people make comments and they are usually supportive and kind as were these three comments.

Delwyn commented: "I wonder how you ever got into those stove pipe jeans... "

Kathryn stated: "..But I too wondered about those skinny jeans and how on earth you managed to get into them."

Janice amongst other things wrote: ".... and I haven't seen a pair of stovepipe pants since "A Hard Day's Night". "

Now it seems that amongst my musings about restoring a sailing yacht, technical information, a bit of history etc, etc, the nostalgia of old photographs and the poetic qualities of sailing yachts - it was the tightness of my jeans that came in for the closest scrutiny and comment. These three had seen beyond the obvious and the 'official information'.

Now a more egotistical Alden would of course grab hold of these comments and envision an Alden on stage with a piece of enhancing garden hose down the front of his stovepipes strutting a Mick Jagger swagger, or envision a recumbent stovepipe clad Alden windblown whilst musing and pursing, or see a relaxed Alden, stovepipes casually on a shoulder, naked except for a rose stem clenched between his buttocks whilst singing a love sonnet to his paramour - but before we all throw up, let me make my point and it is this:

So often we think that what we see is what everyone else sees. So often what we think is of high interest to others is of small interest. Often we are using a one track mind, while others are using a wide angle lens - and they see exactly what you are seeing and a whole lot that you don't see -and amongst the whole lot you don't see - they see things of greater interest to them and possibliy to others - others may see completely different things which interest them.

I remember as a child being taken with my brothers to the Port of Lyttleton by our Grandmother to see a very large ship. I think it was called the "Dominion Monarch." It was one of the largest ships to have ever visited Lyttleton. We had seen ships before but we had never ever seen in the harbour before the thing that really took our interest. It was a Sunderland Flying Boat and it was anchored just across from the wharf we were on. A floating aeroplane! we exclaimed and couldn't contain our excitement.

I remember our grandmother being particularly miffed by all this. She had bought us by train all the way from Woolston in Christchurch through the rail tunnel to Lyttleton, dragged us down onto the wharf to see a ship the size of the moon and here the ungrateful little bastards were in a swoon over a bloody floating areoplane. Humprff she humprffed, "This is the biggest ship to come to New Zealand she said sternly..... " we sensed that she was displeased with our luke warm reaction to the ship and I remember trying to placate her by saying, "Gosh, it IS big granny," with my head turned and my eyes fixed adoringly on the Sunderland flying boat.

I also remember taking a class on a visit to a local hobby farm where they were able to play with and pick up a wide variety of animals. When we got back to school all that the boys wanted to talk about and draw was the row of army trucks they had spied from the bus window on the way to the farmlet.

Today I commented on my friend Kelvins blog about his visit to Florence in Italy and stated that amongst all the grand historical splendour one of my most vivid memories of my visit to Florence was of a local street performer who played Vivaldis Four Seasons exquisitely on a large number of water filled glasses with a couple of spoons -

Every day in the classroom as a teacher I can deliver something of importance to children's learning and have a child tell me that the spider they have been watching for the last 15 minutes has finally caught a fly in it's web high up by the window - "See Mr Smith, he's been waiting there for ages."

Despite the fact that teachers and others may find this behaviour infuriating or even rude at times, I think it is a valuable human mechanism which we should celebrate - its this wide lens that guards against indoctrination and the mind numbing world views of dictators and others who would enslave us with the perspective from their narrow lenses - it enables us to see new ideas, new possibilities and a wider perspective.

If people hadn't used a wide angle lens of the mind we would never have had flared jeans, dungarees, low riders, skinny, boot cut, straight, leg flare, jeans, destroyed -- stovepipes of course have their place amongst all those styles, all denim of them.


Delwyn said...

A great read Alden-

I did think twice when I wrote that remark whether my attention should have been elsewhere!

But I too love to see the things that people pull out of a post and the way a post triggers responses that may be very tenuously connected to the topic but arrive nevertheless.

You have made a good point about our lateral minds - thank goodness for that ability to think and see and perceive sideways as well as in a logical line. And for the surprise that other minds travel on completely different tangents.

Take Lyttelton for example, I remember on a number of occasions going there with grandparents who were sailing to Wellington - which could have been the other side of the world to me - and the noise and emotion as the ferry set sail, toilet paper streamers and crying and "Now is the Hour" - my god they were only going to the Nth Island!!!!!
It was the other side of the world!

what about muffin tops....that's where I am at now !

Kathryn said...

Amazing how such simple remarks about a pair of jeans brought on such deep thinking on your part, Alden. (And such a lot of imagination, too, I might add!)

However, unlike Delwyn, I didn't think twice about commenting on your jeans.

Lyttelton conjures up all sorts of memories.
The first drive through the road tunnel on the day it opened and so many cars pulled onto the side of the road because their radiators had reached boiling point after travelling at a snail's pace for so long.
Walks over the bridle path on a hot school holiday day out.
Visiting with family to get a look at the royal yacht Brittania, and the resident members of the royal family (and we were all dressed in our Sunday best!)
Embarking on the overnight inter-island ferry as a 14 or 15 year old to travel with a girlfriend to Wellington to visit my older sister for the school holidays. Very brave & excited girls (and very brave parents - who would let their children do that these days!)
And then last year, on a visit to NZ, I saw Lyttelton Harbour again and I had no idea it was so beautiful, or that Lyttelton was so picturesque.

Thank you Alden. Your Blog brings such a lot of pleasure.

Katherine said...

I remember the bad teeth (such a shock when he opened his mouth) of the young, handsome souvenir-booth man outside Florence Cathedral...

The glasses-music must have been great. I'd remember that too!

Alden said...

Delwyn, Lyttleton and the inter-island ferry certainly has a significance for anyone who has lived in Christchurch and completed any inter-island travel.

And you are right the small words or ideas that can trigger a flow of conciousness which then turns into a blog story is as intriguing as it is unpredictable.

You say "what about muffin tops... that's where I am now" - this made me laugh out very loud, because it has a personal significance for me and is very very very funny - I am only sorry that I can't share anything about that except to say it made my day.

Alden said...

Kathryn, thankyou for all your remarks, all of the points you make are part of our shared history and the history of all who have lived in ChCh.

Your remarks about the Royal Yacht and Sunday Best struck a cord with me because I was on one of a number of yachts with my father that welcomed the Brittania to Lyttleton - the skipper had told us all to wear white shirts because the welcoming of a royal yacht was a serious business and we had to be dressed for the ocassion, - which with hindsight is such a load of old cobblers isn't it!

And yes Lyttleton is very beautiful. Whenever I go over Evans pass and stop at the viewing area, I always have to be dragged back into the car - I could sit and look,look,look all day at the place that holds such sailing memories for me.

Alden said...

Katherine, I have seen that bad teeth thing myself and it can be a bit uncanny especially if the person is very young, but there is one other thing that really really struck me about Europe and it is this.
--- I have never seen so many people smoking cigarettes, on the streets, in the cafes, eveywhere - the prevalence really struck me, - obviously there doesn't seem to be the same antismoking awareness, or they don't have the same amount of non smoking laws in force.

Delwyn said...

OK you can't do that

you can't lead us by the nose then drop us off like that

we demand the story!!!!

censor it...

Alden said...

Ok I will give you the story - just give me a little bit of time to think and make one up.