To be honest, it does mean that you can't mindlessly put TV on in the background. Another way of thinking about it is that you reduce the possibility of double-screening because one of the screens is more-or-less redundant. But yes, it seems that during a briefly unsupervised period of attempting to turn on Thomas the Tank Engine earlier this evening, the baby has disappeared the remote control for the Virgin box. Bastard. He has definitely been outside since the last time now-lost controller was spotted, so there is the outside chance that he has hidden it under a pot in the garden. I shall not be enjoying trying to explain this story to Virgin. That level of cantankerousness has only really got going relatively recently. He has been able to identify the cupboard containing the better food for six or so months already, and takes great delight in launching his lunch as far away as possible if he doesn't think it looks any good.
I did meet (ish - I did not have a hold) a much younger baby at the weekend, though. One of the members of the college where I was at university had just had her fifth child (yes, five) and it decided to attend the reunion weekend with her. It was an event where the non-members rule was otherwise strictly enforced (causing great enragement in a number of households), though. Disappointingly, the outgoing president (Lord Eatwell of Mangetout) did not make an appearance, although I look forward to my letter asking me to fill his shoes. He was a constant presence when we were students, unlike the former Vice President who did attend on Saturday, and at the time it was Q550, an appeal for injections of cash from former and current students. That's nearly six hundred years of history of which we form a small (insignificant, perhaps) part. But a part nonetheless. And perhaps, some day, Edward Strelley will become Queens' most famous fictional alumnus. Perhaps.
That shift might allow me to take back some of the ownership of the place which has inevitably diminished in the twenty years since. It's cruel, in a way, to invite old students back just to remind us of what was once, but I think most of us can look back on it fondly and say that although it was a great time, we do not regret its passing. Some lament the no-longer, but others felt rather that it is better to be who we are now than to spend too much energy on what is now the distant past. I don't know, because there was a bit of me that longed desperately for it all to be 'live' again. That me - the one that went then - was lazy and unfocused, but I don't resent him for that particularly. One friend of mine feared that the twenty-years-ago version of her was actually pretty terrible, and apologised to anyone who would listen. She has not yet forgiven herself, even across more than half of her life. By way of an example of how that might work, I met one person who had recently been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Twenty years ago, I dismissed him - I think that is the right verb - as strange, unfathomable even. Now, with twenty more years of people and experiences to go on, I can make much more sense of him, appreciate how he sees the world, and be a much kinder and more accepting person than I was.
It would be wrong of me to berate myself for the failings of teenage me. Teenage me certainly didn't, which is strange, considering the extent to which adult me might dwell on these things. Part of what I take (some, limited) pride in is the fact that I have changed myself to be closer to the ideal ("be excellent to each other"), driven out some of the racism or xenophobia or homophobia that was a definite part of the world I inhabited before leaving for university. It's hardly surprising that people were looking back, given the context, and equally unsurprising that there were some bits that we perhaps would prefer not to remember in great detail (or be reminded of, having failed to form memories of them at the time). Without those experiences (or the lacunae!) we would not be who we are.
Scarred for life? Perhaps. I prefer Billy Connoly's 'windswept and interesting'.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought