Many years ago when I first held my first grandchild in my arms the emotions, can I admit, almost knocked me out. There was I with a newly born son myself, and a couple of years later a grandchild.
Look, every child in my view is per se one of the wonders of this world but the first grandchild – a boy called Dylan Jake – was something else.
My daughter brought him to Brussels where I was at that time representing the then President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia now called Serbia. If the truth were told I had secretly longed for a grandchild just as much as I had longed for my own children and I was 40 when I had my last child.
Can I say that all these memories stem from three factors?
- I spoke last week to my granddaughter Charlize in Italy and I could not believe just how I would feel after the conversation which was quite perchance.
- My conversation with my other grandchildren a couple of months back called Sterling (I call him Euro) and Penelope.
- My conversation with my oldest son Mike who will be a father for the second time with another boy – yes, yet another Di Stefano walking the planet.
These three factors permitted to be so happy that it could not be contained yet, oh yes there is a yet – what will the future of my grandchildren actually hold? Have my children thought of that? More important, had I before having children?
I have written in my diary, of late, just how upset and sad I am reading in the papers about the plight of children being bullied and then committing suicide. I read of the schoolgirls and the pressure on them experiencing depression, self-harm, eating disorders sexting and the worst of all, gender uncertainty.
You know I ask myself – and I guess I am not alone in my generation – what the hell happened to the bright new world that our parents envisaged and what we as parents and grandparents now had in mind when creating human life? I thought that the world I would raise my offspring would be a world of untold possibilities, choices and equal opportunities for all.
Believe it or not since 1973 May 17th that is the world that I have been fighting for ever since being recruited by Martin Royston Chambers who a few years later had an unfortunate road accident in his Rover car – accident or what?
Yet in this so called new world of today, I fear for my granddaughters and am apprehensive of my grandsons.
Let me give but one example perhaps of which my generation is actually to blame. The porn industry has taken over almost every blessed aspect of life. In my time the sexual revolution preached out loud “have as much sex as you can with as many as you can.”
So today, all intimate sexual acts are reproduced graphically on screen. Gosh, even the new female Dr. Who has filmed in the nude in other films she made.
The problem is that all pornography is now pushed gift wrapped but with its core foundation being nothing but poison.
On the other side, the traditional roles have become more and, more and, more despised. Golly gosh even adverts showing a housewife how to be a housewife are now banned! Madness totally.
I think the world has become far more painful, unrewarding and extremely complicated. In the sixties, women wore miniskirts and burned their bras with years later realizing that burning of the bra meant no breast support and gravity did the rest so breast surgery was required. Not so good an idea in the long run.
Now let’s look at today. Just as in the 1960s women burned their bras and wore miniskirts today the situation is worse and lessons and errors of the past have not been learned.
Today, it’s almost as compulsory to use the mobile phone for sexting and taking naked selfies as it was in the 1950s for boys to wear sideburns below the ear and winkle picker shoes.
It seems to me that only one section of society today – women of ethnic or religious minority – dress to protect the values of their ancestors. Those, the law today fail to ban!!!
In the meantime other young women brutally expose their bodies, catering to the every whim of male fantasy and they say they do this to express their freedom. For me, that freedom is about as interesting as a broken toilet seat.
When I was young I worried like hell about arriving in class on time, passing my exams and obeying the dicta of my parents. Yes, I rowed like a tiger with my mother over the length of my hair, my sideburns and argued with my dad over whether or not I could have flair trousers and if God actually existed. Some rows ended up with me being beaten – yes – but – although we argued my generation generally listened and obeyed our parents.
When I came to England in 1961 it was on the basis that only exceptional results in education could guarantee me with a great future and prospects.
I had a pop group went on to Opportunity Knocks and I wrote a hit record but my parents told me straight “we dida no come to England for you to grow your hair long anda sing…..” you get the gist.
When I was at my first school it was three miles from home and many time I would walk to home to save one shilling and six pence bus fare and I felt safe doing so from Wollaston to Irchester all country lanes. I had extra curriculum activities, sports, chess, art etc. My school was not just about getting good grades but about achieving your full capabilities.
Today – it’s all about smart phones and the virtual world of winks and followers. Sorry, that is not what I had children for!
When it was time for girlfriend well if you got a kiss on the cheek you were considered lucky. It was drummed into you that you should never go ‘all the way’ as we called it. That would be fraught with complications.
My gosh in one soap the other week a young girl is asked to strip naked and sent the photo to a boy and all her friends egg her on.
I do feel so damn sad for all youngsters who for example will never receive a wonderful romantic letter by post, a poem, bouquet of flowers or a wonderful dinner for two with no strings attached. Today, it seems there is always an ‘angle.’
I guess the difference between today and when I (granddad) was a boy is that my generation, although being the liberators, we had boundaries. I knew what was expected of me even though I protested vehemently against it but I did as I was expected.
Today so many have no limits and the result is that they grow up being in a state of total confusion. Why do you think the prison population has gone from 30,000 in the 1960s to almost 100,000 plus today? Confusion brings violations of the law that leads to prison!!!
In my days, for example, most teenagers threatened to leave home. When I was ten years old I got on my bike, put a bottle of water in a bag and was leaving home. When I arrived two miles to the nearest town – Rushden – I was so afraid I raced back before my parents got home.
There was no diet industry in my days and no junk food. Most families had three-course meals – soup, a main course and pudding. Yet most girls I knew had quite slim waistlines and do you know why? Because they did not sit on the sofa watching TV and playing with their phones. They walked, had hobbies and had recreations and they danced. When Rod Steward came to Irchester with the ‘Small Faces’ he played at Parsons Hall to about 400 youngsters amongst whom one of my school friends called Janet Harrington, and yes she was blonde and Rod dated her sister for a while, who let me tell you ate well yet still had a slim figure.
To end this, I hope and pray for my grandchildren that one of them can lead society away from the abyss. A rich and rewarding life is not always one filled with encoded choices of TV stations. I hope my grandchildren can enjoy the luxury life of more time than children of the last ten years and I hope they will be creative and day dream. I don’t want my grandchildren jailed by all those so called ‘equal’ choices but to be loyal to themselves.
I never relished the word grandfather because I felt too young to be one. But I can’t run away from it because of the love I feel for my grandchildren and children. No more should you run away from the love than I ran away from being a grandfather.
So here’s to grandfather/Nonno Giovanni. I have arrived, maybe late but here to stay.
NB: Some images retrieved from Google, will remove at owner’s request.
Letters written by Giovanni di Stefano deciphered, typed and published by Caroline.