Saturday, 23 August 2008

On seeing the next generation

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our elder son and his wife were expecting their first baby. Well, on Tuesday, after some delay, Simeon John finally emerged into the world. He is doing very well and we hope to see him and his family this weekend.

Inevitably one’s first grandchild brings back memories of his parent’s birth.
John, Simeon’s father, was born in Beirut in the spring of ’82. It was a jumpy, uneasy time as we were expecting an Israeli invasion any day. After seeing the new baby, I remember heading off through the badly lit streets of West Beirut where PLO gunmen lingered nervously in doorways, up to the bright lights of Commodore Hotel which was one of the few places where you could guarantee getting a phone line out of Lebanon. The place was full of journalists trying to file stories about the war brewing in the south. Eventually, at what seemed an enormous expense, I managed to have a few minutes on a crackly, distant line and passed on the good news. The next day I took some photographs and got a roll of film developed (some of you youngsters may not remember this process), had duplicate photos printed and sent them off by airmail to the grandparents. I think it must have been two weeks after the birth when the photos arrived in the UK. With Simeon’s birth, the happy father (who has inherited an interest in photography from both sides of the family) e-mailed us some good digital images within hours. Technologically the world has changed a lot.

Incidentally, six weeks after John was born the long predicted war erupted with appalling violence and where we lived and the hospital came under sustained artillery and aerial bombardment by the Israelis. We fled an already encircled West Beirut and then Alison and John were evacuated courtesy of the French Navy while I stayed on for another few days. We were out of all contact for the next week or so. One would like to think that the technological changes over the last quarter of a century have been matched by political progress and the Middle East is now a saner and safer place. Oh well….

Anyway Simeon’s arrival means of course that we are grandparents; we will by agreement be ‘Grandma’ and ‘Grandpa’. Frankly, I’m still coming to terms with this. I only just seem to have got out of adolescence and now I am a grandfather? Well I can live with it. The main thing is that it is a great blessing. To have children is a blessing and to see them have children is doubly so.

Anyway next week I hope to talk about the other new addition to our family, my new iPhone 3G, which currently carries on it – amongst other things – yes you guessed it, pictures of Simeon John.

Have a good week.