One of the things which always amuses me about Quakers is their disengagement from popular culture. This is not deliberate – we’re not the Amish – it’s just that certain aspects of culture like the obsession with celebrity or memes on social media, pass them by. They are quite as au fait with politics as anyone could wish, but when it comes to the latest trends – nada. Zip, zilch, niente. Not a flicker – so I have to be careful when texting Friends not to use abbreviations like k, btw or np.
So it’s unlikely Quakers would be aware of nom. Having had teenage children, I am only too aware that yum yum has been replaced with nom nom, or sometimes, if a meal is particularly delicious, om nom nom. It’s just as expressive and I guess every generation has to invent its own slang; but what amuses me is that the Quaker committee on which I sit is known as Noms. It’s short for Nominations but it always makes me think of eating something delicious. Yet I doubt anyone else makes that connection.
We had a Noms meeting last night, via Zoom (confidentiality forbids me to say any more) and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that in many ways I prefer Zoom meetings to real ones. For a start you don’t have to make the extra effort to get out of the house in the evening (which, since I’m obsessively punctual, means that I always overestimate the journey time and arrive too early) you can make yourself a drink without worrying whether your host/ess will have herbal tea or soya milk since you are an Old Fart who drinks no caffeine after midday and no cow’s milk at all; you can check out and go to the loo or scribble some notes or look at your email, all whilst pretending to be fully engaged in the meeting. It’s so much more restful. Plus, if you’ve forgotten to bring something you can just nip upstairs and get it. Then when it’s all over you can just kick back and flip on the i-player without having to drive or walk home. Zoomy bliss.
Sometimes I worry about what kind of person I’m turning into. I’m finding lockdown far too easy;enjoying sitting down of an evening to watch TV or play computer games with The Son; I don’t feel the need to travel or go to the pub or the cinema or a restaurant. Never in a million years would I have dreamed I’d be like this – and sometimes it bothers me that I’m turning into my parents: getting up early, in bed by ten, not going out. Then again lots of the things I like doing have been ruined. Travel is ruined by climate change – I can’t fly with a clean conscience, beaches are spoilt by pollution and litter (and too many people) and even my favourite beach, Southwold, is spoilt by guilt because half the town is now given over to holiday rentals. I love Cornwall but I wouldn’t go there now because a) it’s a long drive on busy roads and b) it’s too crowded. Where is there to go? How can one travel nowadays without causing or witnessing environmental damage?
Answers on a postcard please (now there’s a dated expression).