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Some Advice from Bygone Times

SOME ADVICE FROM BYGONE TIMESWe learn from experience that no one ever learns from experience, but that doesn't stop people giving us advice. "Never fall in love with a tennis player, love means nothing to them." And yet I've never seen a headline that read, "Psychic Wins Lottery," have you?

Frankly, I preferred life when apple and blackberry were just fruits, and it occurs to me that when dead people share their thoughts with you - if you see what I mean - they rarely have a vested interest in doing so.  Séances excepted.

Not that some people's thoughts weren't pretty muddled in the past, BG.  (Before Google.)  The poet Thomas Gray, who used to compose elegies in dark churchyards --how could he see to write? -- advised us that "many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air."  But why is it blushing if no one can see it?  And how come it is so full of life in the desert in the first place? 

David AitkenThe worst medical advice in history would probably include the 'fact' that smoking was good for you.  A 1966 leading medical textbook claimed that pregnant women could safely smoke half a pack of cigarettes per day.  And there was a fellow called Walter Freeman who reckoned that lobotomies could cure mental illness.  He was known as 'Mr Lobotomy', perhaps because he owned a mobile lobotomy service.  He sounds to me as if he needed his head examined.  He did notice, however, that recipients of a lobotomy felt a lot better when it stopped.

Other bad advice from the past was not to let children play a wind instrument in case it injured their lungs (rather than their listeners' ears?)  In the 1930s, to make sure infants got enough fresh air, one borough council in London proposed that parents hang baby cages outside tenement windows.  Hmm...  Reminds me of the quote: "If you fall, I'll be there."  (The Floor.)

Parents at one time were advised not to be forever cuddling their offspring, as this could lead to them becoming "spoiled tyrants" as teenagers.  How did that pan out, I wonder?  Modern advice often isn't much better.  Although my father did supply 2 solutions to my youthful inquiry regarding the best way to pick up girls: 1. "Be yourself and treat them with respect." 2. "Pretend to be in a band." If life was fair, Elvis would be alive, and all the impersonators would be dead.

A final general thought might be worthy of consideration.  If no one travels back from the future to stop you doing something, how bad can it be? Sometimes it's better to let bygones be bygones. That's my advice, anyway.  



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