By Captain Terry Camsey –
There’s a chain of shops over here in the U.K. called “Past Times.” They sell memorabilia and reproduction artifacts and games from years ago…mainly Victorian times and World War II.
I guess what they are really selling is nostalgia, and that seems to be what many people seek, judging by the crowds of people who usually are jostling to see what is on the shelves. Maybe it’s a tendency to see the good old days through rose-tinted spectacles that makes the shops so attractive, perhaps even a longing for the good old days that weren’t–in reality–that good in some respects. (My dad had flat fingers from where his hand got trapped in the mangle when, as a boy, he fed clothes through the wooden rollers for his mother!)
Maybe it is regret for some who, seeing on sale at a handsome price stuff that they threw away as “junk,” wish they had held on to that “rubbish” a little longer. Maybe a longing for things past…in a bid to recapture a warm fuzzy or two!
We might, of course, interpret the name of the shop as “Pastimes,” and that puts a whole new complexion on the issue…that of escapism. Of keeping occupied to take the mind off reality. Isn’t that a trend of the times. It certainly is over here, where it seems to me escapism is a national pastime…escapism and fantasy. How else can one explain so many game shows, sports matches, surrealistic dramas, cartoons…not to mention the proliferation of virtual reality games. All a way of getting away for a brief time from the frustrations of real life.
The shops sell antique and quasi-antique knickknacks, too. I saw some toy soldiers once, and they reminded me of the lead soldiers I used to play with as a child, forbidden now because of the dangerous effects of lead on the body. Again, we didn’t know the value and threw most away. I remember that boys used to bite the heads off and then try to stick them back on again with a matchstick threaded through the hollow parts.
A few years ago my family spent Thanksgiving with Ivor and Janette Bosanko. We were in their garden under a large umbrella to shield us from the sun. All of a sudden, a gust of wind blew the umbrella top right off its aluminum pole. Fortunately no one was hurt, but, remembering the lead soldier trick, we stuck a broomstick in the pole and threaded the umbrella top onto it. It worked fine, but the umbrella was at second floor level!
But, thinking of pastimes and soldiers also reminds me of the war games that we played as children and which some adults still play, whether on a table or with paint-firing guns. We would drill the soldiers, line up our cannons (which were, again, loaded with matchsticks) and tanks and play at being soldiers. In our minds we were actually “there” on a battlefield. We could smell the cordite, hear the loud thunder of the guns, lay out and tend to the wounded…
But it was all in the mind.
Some people like playing mind games, don’t they, judging by the word puzzles that appear in many papers and magazines. They are great for stretching the mind. I, personally, spend time on a regular basis thinking “outside of the box” asking and pursuing the “what if…” questions.
Then there are those who are seriously into games or exercises that measure their intelligence quotient. In fact, MENSA has members, I believe, in many countries of the world.
Past times…nostalgia…rose tinted spectacles…longing for the good old days…regret…
Pastimes…escapism…fantasy…virtual reality…antiques…lead solders…war games…mind games…
It’s so easy, isn’t it, to be so caught up with past times or pastimes that we can be diverted from the main thing…Ruth Bell Graham wrote: “What if we sacrifice the living for the dead? Divert attention from the present holy war? Why must more die while those who could help dwell in modern ghettos of a time now gone? Perhaps some evil force would have it so…and still they die. Diversionary tactics? Is that why? Who in this holy war is the “master of diversion?”
MENSA. I don’t know what the letters stand for. But, if we are not careful, they could well stand for…
Mass Escapism Negates Salvation Army!
Let’s not let it.