Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nostalgia and all that

While my main internet connections are down, I have been sorting out papers and books that have essentially been in stasis sine we moved house a few months back. In doing so, I have been caught by multiple possible stories. I have also been swept by waves of nostalgia.

So far I have written two stories connected with the 150th year celebration of the Armidale Demonstration School (now Armidale City Public School) - Armidale Dem turns 150 , Do you want your reunion publicised?

I have also written two columns for the Armidale Express that will appear here over the next two weeks. My editor is pleased with both.

There is no doubt that nostalgia is a powerful thing. However, it is a little more than that.

In writing about the Dem reunion I have been trying to bring back a little of the feel of Armidale in the past.

If we broaden this, each part of New England has a different texture of life. Each is unique. I can't bring back all this, I can only select, recognising that the picture I present is partial.

I think that the distinctive thing about the Dem reunion is that it wasn't just a school reunion, but also a city reunion drawing together many who had gone around the world. The connections overlapped well beyond the school.

For most of us, to be a New Englander is to leave. In the absence of our own state, New England just doesn't have the jobs to hold us.

The numbers are actually staggering. For every past and present Dem student in Armidale, more than twenty live elsewhere.

Something like 1.4 million people now live in New England. I haven't calculated the number accurately, but the number of us living elsewhere is now well over 5 million if we included kids. The number could be higher than 10 million if we include grandchildren.

New England is like a Greek island, a place that bleeds its people.

The thing that stood out with the Dem reunion was the pleasure of those who made it back. Most could not return now. My own girls still think of New England as the place where they were born, but life has taken then away. They won't return. But the links remain.

In Armidale, I was asked a number of times how my history of New England was going. I had to answer that I was making slow progress,.

There was a very real interest in the book because it may tell a story to people about their own history, a history now ignored. I came back determined to make progress.

In the meantime, my blogs and column remain my weapons. I will continue to tell the story as best I can.      



Rod said...

Oh, I'd love to return to the highlands. I've got closer in the last few years as I'm living on the Northern Rivers. But I'd like to find good paying work so I can be settled back in Armidale or some other location on the Northern Tablelands. I guess I'm fairly lucky in that I'm sort of back in "New England" but the high lean country is what I'd like most.

Jim Belshaw said...

I love all parts of New England, Rod, but like you the Tablelands are my blood's country!

Have you seen Gordon Smith's photo blog? http://las.new-england.net.au/