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The family is defunct. Long live the family.

Have you heard it said that in modern society the family, and especially the extended family, is defunct? That so many of us of working age have become so driven by various pressures to earn money to keep a roof over our heads that we have abandoned things which would have been considered our natural responsibility a hundred years ago? I don't share that somewhat pessimistic view, and I've noted over past months that the generation younger than mine is taking a patriarchal / caring role that I'm not familiar with from a few years back. "Leave xxxx with me / I'll look after yyyy" type stuff. And it is ... reassuring beyond the mere physical logic that I can do so, trusting in the knowledge that xxxx and yyyy will be looked after with a positive approach and a good commitment ... saving me significant worries at times which would otherwise nag and gnaw at me. That latter's written very personally and perhaps selfishly - I like to think and hope that I do various things (in return, though not accounted for on a "brownie point" scale in either direction) which in turn help from me.

House Building in MelkshamThese things aren't dead ... but they have changed from the perceived view that popular history shows us. Popular history shows us the generations of a family all living together in the same house, be it one of the grand country houses of "Pride and Prejudice", or the squalor where Bob Cratchett's family lived in Scrooge. [I suspect, by the way, that popular history casts a distorted view - I'm minded of that TV program where people trace their roots back and they discover just how tough life was for their ancestors in the slums of Carlisle, or how their ancestors are actually Catholic rather than Protestant, but converted to get a better life]. So - how have they changed?

In a more affluent society, we have fewer people per household; modern figures show a drop from 2.6 to 2.3 per household, with much modern housebuilding driven not be an increase in population, but by a need to increase the housing stock in order to cope with the same number of people. And house building in the UK, it should be noted, only includes a proportion of "affordable homes" with many larger units - for an average of 2.3 people per household (and very often two choosing to share a bedroom), there's a lot of 3 and 4 bedroom houses being built around places like Chippenham, Trowbridge and Melksham.

StagecoachSo - with this trend towards physically separated living, why do I say that the family thrives? Perhaps there's a joy of personal celebration there; there's an element of it for sure, but there's also the looking and seeing around - how our networking has moved to a very great extent from the physical to the virtual / electronic. I was waiting in a cold waiting room at Chippenham station a couple of days before Christmas for a train up to Swindon, with a dozen strangers. Two or three were sitting. Another two or three reading. And six of the twelve were busy on their hand held devices - texting in one form or another - keeping in touch.
• Two hundred years ago, if you went on a long journey away from your family, it could be weeks or months before they heard that you had made it, informed by someone making the opposite trip.
• A hundred and fifty years ago, a letter would tell you in a day or two that you had made it.
• A hundred years ago, a telegram with hours would convey the message.
• Fifty years ago a phone call would re-assure your family that you had made it.
• Today, you can text and phone from along the way (and if you don't, they can track you if they wish by watching public transport online and dynamic traffic reports!).
So - although physically far more apart, we're actually much more in contact.

Train at SwindonAll this new technology in 200 years - railways which brought us post; electricity which brought us telegrams, then telephones; computers which have brought us email and much more - has reduced the predominance of the traditional family, where Peter and Jane lived in the same street, and knew each other even before they went to school together. From similar families, and with similar brightnesses and temperaments, they got married after they left school, with Peter working at Charles Magg's Rope factory, and Jane having half a dozen children, with a couple of them surviving into adulthood (in 1900, 14 out of 100 died as infants). They lived their whole lives with a few miles of where they were born, and Peter and Jane's life expectancy, 100 years ago, would have been 50 for him and 55 for her. [source]. These days, with the faster-changing wheels of life, the partner-for-life thing is less prevalent, simply because far fewer of us have lived in a world where the circumstances and location of our school life and late teens have remained broadly the same though our first jobs, our settled jobs, and our ongoing life. Going away to university is a great breaker-up of the static town / village life, for starters ...

Times have, indeed, changed. Delegates on our courses come from all over the world; most of them are based in the UK, with an average journey of perhaps 100 miles to our hotel and training centre, but talk with them over lunch and you'll find they're much more widely connected, and with families with a further wide range of connections. There's the Irish chap who live in Southampton with his Brazilian girlfriend; her mother is Portuguese, so she's able to live and work in the UK as an EU citizen. Then there's the Biafran scientist who came to study at Oxford, and who's so bright that he's now involved with important medical research ... and who talked over the dinner table of how he and his siblings used to run for cover during the civil war in Nigeria when the airport runway that they lived close to was being strafed - literally "running into the bush" to avoid the bombs. And there's another, remarkable, lady from Africa who came on a course while working in Reading; I understand that she married a Norwegian she met in her work, and now lives on "a remote mountainside" (seriously, I had a village name and it looked pretty much middle of nowhere).

Family TreePerhaps you'll be thinking that I'm confusing "family" and "friends" here. Special friends become partners, and become family. And sometimes our 'family' extends to this to whom we have no blood ties, nor even a partnership relationship. This isn't necessarily a new thing in the current generation; I've heard comments along these lines about people who were around in my Gran's time ... and she was born (I think I can give an age away now!) in 1893. And family are worldwide too; from three continents even here within our group physically living in Melksham, and all very much in touch with the wider family, America, Africa and Europe.

The modern, wider family is supported by the wider social networking sites such as facebook ... the "microblog" sites such as twitter, the employee / work networking sites such as linkedin, to mention just a few. As I've been writing this article, this Sunday morning and mainly for pleasure, I've learned of the world's news, of what friends are doing, of family's online footprint, and of notable happenings in some very specific subject areas that interest me - and that latter would have been a significantly hard thing to keep tabs of in the days before these electronic communications.

CarnivalAnyone can follow me on Twitter. And I welcome friend requests at my Facebook Page and Linkedin Page ... taking a wide view of the term "friend". If you're someone I know / have trained / work with, please connect if you've not done so already. If you like what you read and want to join in, I'll welcome your readership, your connection, your thoughts - you becoming a contact and friend; in such a case, please do make it clear in your introduction note that yours is a specific request, as I'm rather tired of requests purporting to come from bikini-clad bimbos which spam large numbers of potential contacts, looking for an "in" through which they can build up a database for marketing something which may be near to, or far from, themselves.

I am, though, a little old fashioned. I'll agree to disagree with people about their views / ways of doing things, and still call them friends; friends should be from a broad church. But I refuse to confirm, as a friend, any of that tiny handful of people I've come across in over 50 years who have maliciously and significantly done something that's unnecessarily caused real anxiety and distress. Should I "forgive and forget"? Perhaps I should, but I may not always be 'big' enough to do so, and in the extreme cases (there are only 2 or 3 people) I certainly can't move on if there's no remorse shown for the maliciousness. Hmmm - if you're one of these, you'll know who you are.

Writing a blog article takes time. And writing a long one (like this) takes a long time. So why do I do it? I do it ... for the pleasure. for the learning. for the keeping in touch. for the recording. and for the making of new contacts who may come across some of the things I write, especially the technical stuff, and themselves pick up useful tips from it. If you've enjoyed reading this and want to see what I write from time to time, please bookmark The Horse's Mouth. If you're on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, please 'follow' me ... and you'll find that you'll see the headlines of what I write, so that you can choose to read what you wish, and ignore the diverse areas that I may get myself into, but which hold little interest to you.

The Internet, the online community is truly a great way of keeping in touch with the world, with business contacts, with friends and with family. Long live the Internet!
(written 2011-01-09, updated 2012-11-04)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z100 - Daily life
  [4222] Five lessons learned or re-learned on my travels - (2013-12-15)
  [3743] Sunday - no longer a day of rest - (2012-05-28)
  [3553] Changes to morning routines - (2011-12-16)
  [3463] Busy weekend of contrasts. - (2011-10-03)
  [3319] Moving on - a task for the hotel staff! - (2011-06-08)
  [3316] Twitter Phishing Trips ... and a great new alert service - (2011-06-04)
  [2868] A move towards the family - (2010-07-12)
  [2580] C course inspires new teaching examples - (2010-01-16)
  [2450] Family Gathering at 404, The Spa - (2009-10-11)
  [2401] Back Tomorrow - (2009-09-10)
  [2371] Quiet summer days? I think not! - (2009-08-22)
  [2264] Learning about others private lives - (2009-06-30)
  [2217] Enjoying the summer weather - (2009-06-04)
  [2164] Updating my public profile - Graham Ellis - (2009-05-09)
  [2159] A long day to guess where - (2009-05-06)
  [2141] Town Crier competiton - (2009-04-25)
  [2121] Out in the Vale of Pewsey - (2009-04-07)
  [2118] Spring Sprung - (2009-04-05)
  [2106] Learning to Twitter / what is Twitter? - (2009-03-28)
  [2105] Hire Car, from Atlanta Airport - (2009-03-27)
  [2090] Melksham to Georgia - (2009-03-19)
  [2068] Playing Catchup - (2009-03-06)
  [2064] East of Melksham Countryside - (2009-03-02)
  [2034] Through Snow and Flood to Linux and Tomcat - (2009-02-10)
  [2030] The final step to being British - (2009-02-07)
  [2027] Who sticks by you in the snow? - (2009-02-05)
  [2024] Carry on Training - in spite of the weather - (2009-02-03)
  [2008] The Month Ahead - What is happening in Melksham - (2009-01-25)
  [2000] 2000th article - Remember the background and basics - (2009-01-18)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [1953] End of Training, 2008 - (2008-12-20)
  [1810] Middle aged subsidise young and old - (2008-09-26)
  [1643] A lack of technical content - (2008-05-16)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1303] Heading Upstate New York - (2007-08-14)
  [1272] Behind closed doors? - (2007-07-22)
  [1189] Meet, greet and welcome - (2007-05-16)
  [1178] Ducking stool for Melksham? - (2007-05-06)
  [1151] Gordon Dodge, R.I.P. - (2007-04-16)
  [1138] The Holiday - unlikely romantic comedy? - (2007-04-08)
  [1100] Wondering where I have been - (2007-03-06)
  [1061] Take vehicles off the road - put all the passengers into one - (2007-02-01)
  [1057] Selling by phone and Skype - our policy - (2007-01-30)
  [1056] Another frantic posting! - (2007-01-30)
  [992] Enthusiastic, but .... - (2006-12-16)
  [978] Wellhouse Manor, Hotel, Melksham - (2006-12-10)
  [921] French Exchange - (2006-11-11)
  [911] Letter Home - (2006-11-01)
  [908] And so to Inverness - (2006-10-29)
  [897] Too much for the National Trust - (2006-10-18)
  [882] Rocks, hard places, trains and funerals. - (2006-09-30)
  [843] To join an organisation? - (2006-08-23)
  [817] Working on Weekend in Wiltshire and others - (2006-07-29)
  [777] On Crosby sands - (2006-06-25)
  [752] Over zealous police activity? - (2006-06-09)
  [724] Helping mental health through diet, exercise and other lifestyle matters - (2006-05-18)
  [706] May day away - (2006-05-01)
  [698] Catch up weekend - (2006-04-24)
  [692] Healthier eating - (2006-04-20)
  [655] Can some food be TOO different? - (2006-03-23)
  [654] Making use of disabled facilities - (2006-03-22)
  [645] Lost Camel - (2006-03-14)
  [635] Odd one out. - (2006-03-06)
  [623] Behind every face is a person and a story - (2006-02-25)
  [613] Greetings from Dublin - (2006-02-20)
  [612] Coming or going? - (2006-02-18)
  [605] Design your day with a walk - (2006-02-13)
  [584] Loosing breath with Gerald - (2006-01-31)
  [580] What to do with milk - (2006-01-28)
  [516] Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03)
  [474] Vintage Bus Day - (2005-10-23)
  [473] Looking different in town - (2005-10-22)
  [455] A Stengthening day - (2005-10-04)
  [446] Up early - (2005-09-16)
  [363] Greetings from Edinburgh - (2005-06-29)
  [330] An O level comes in handy - (2005-05-30)
  [307] Farming yesterday - (2005-05-10)
  [283] Natural or man-made? - (2005-04-18)
  [271] Different course every day - (2005-04-07)
  [238] Difficulties with a trolley - (2005-03-07)
  [232] Diverse activities - (2005-03-01)
  [228] Beard Justification - (2005-02-26)
  [206] Fox and Python - (2005-02-08)
  [149] Fish stocks - (2004-12-12)
  [110] Friday, busy week! - (2004-11-05)
  [26] Matching Cat - (2004-08-24)
  [20] Not two the same - (2004-08-20)
  [19] interesting products and subjects - (2004-08-19)

Z700 - People
  [4736] Our changing world - (2017-04-17)
  [4728] Visiting Los Alamitos Bay Yacht Club - (2016-11-23)
  [4646] Sometimes you wonder about people. And perhaps you should not. - (2016-02-13)
  [4482] People in New York - (2015-05-02)
  [4349] When I am old, what will worry me? - (2014-12-11)
  [4193] Using our non-found page to help look for missing persons - (2013-10-18)
  [3981] Melksham - a town of some remarkable people - (2013-01-19)
  [3905] How should we choose our Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner? - (2012-10-27)
  [3775] Alan Turing - 1912 to 1954 - (2012-06-23)
  [3512] A colleague and friend who changed my life - (2011-11-07)
  [3466] Passing of Steve Jobs - R.I.P. - (2011-10-06)
  [3355] Family Pictures - (2011-07-12)
  [3298] Quiet Monday in - (2011-05-23)
  [3297] A long day, a long journey, and families and similarities the world over - (2011-05-22)
  [3268] Baby Pictures - (2011-04-27)
  [3184] Visiting relatives - (2011-02-26)
  [3055] Zyliana Kyrei Cox - (2010-11-16)
  [3034] Birth Notice - Aeryn Cassandra Ellis - (2010-11-07)
  [3008] Dulwich College Preparatory, and Sevenoaks, Schools - (2010-10-21)
  [2886] Congratulations, Kimberly - (2010-07-25)
  [2846] Catching up with an old friend - (2010-07-01)
  [2795] Simon says - (2010-06-05)
  [2503] Melksham manslaughter case concludes - sort of - (2009-11-14)
  [2132] Learning about Lurchers - (2009-04-18)
  [2100] Visiting Family - (2009-03-23)
  [2078] A lot has changed - but the memory lingers on - (2009-03-12)
  [1988] Melksham, Wiltshire. Town Crier Competition, 2009 - (2009-01-11)
  [1980] Michelle - (2009-01-06)
  [1916] Why I remember East Grafton - (2008-12-02)
  [1627] Amazing family members - (2008-05-02)
  [1570] London Midland ... Merrymaker ... Percy Danks - (2008-03-10)
  [1522] Paging Martin Noke, who petitions for more trains from Trowbridge to Swindon - (2008-01-28)
  [1385] Delegates of all shapes and sizes - (2007-10-09)
  [1279] The Gdansk fireball - (2007-07-27)
  [1238] The kind spirit of Melksham - (2007-06-21)
  [1197] Back off home with our best wishes - (2007-05-21)
  [1119] The Last Word on the road - (2007-03-26)
  [1107] Weekend Visitors - (2007-03-13)
  [1065] Graham Ellis - an Introduction - (2007-02-05)
  [1064] Light and shadows at Beach - (2007-02-04)
  [820] Robert and William Whitworth - (2006-08-01)
  [794] Perl delegate - much more than just a delegate - (2006-07-06)
  [771] From cat breeder to Cobol to Perl - (2006-06-21)
  [763] Much more that the world cup - (2006-06-15)
  [704] Erin Brent - rest in peace - (2006-04-29)
  [650] A person of few words - (2006-03-18)
  [611] Look out for the motor cyclist - (2006-02-17)
  [601] A fond memory of Sir Freddie - (2006-02-11)
  [543] The world didn't stop for Christmas - (2005-12-26)
  [530] Perl course during the week, getting married at the weekend - (2005-12-16)
  [423] A Victorian Lady - (2005-08-23)
  [392] No Smoking - (2005-07-27)
  [388] BBQ Season - (2005-07-24)
  [207] Canteen Dragon - (2005-02-09)

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Car Parking in Melksham - thoughts on the proposed scheme, and wider thoughts too
Some other Articles
Extra courses - C and C++
How does your browser find out about itself?
Burger me!
Car Parking in Melksham - thoughts on the proposed scheme, and wider thoughts too
The family is defunct. Long live the family.
C++ - putting the language elements together into a program
C++ objects - some short, single file demonstrations
When is a program complete?
New year, new C Course
Learning to write good programs in C and C++ - separating out repeated code
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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