Melting Time
American playwright, Eugene O'Neill, one said about the concept of time 'There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now'. Though Eugene did drink a lot you know. Plus watch 60-minutes documentaries such as this one made in 2012. Well, he would have, if he was still alive or course.

The Up Series

This second instalment of this award winning documentary series, '56 Up', continues from where the previous episode left off (click here for review). However, this time round, the lives of four different candidates 'out of the twelve' will be relayed. There names are Jackie, Suzy, Nick, and Simon. And what now follows is a breakdown of their respective tales.

Now it is pretty safe to say that Jackie's has had a somewhat grounded life by nature. You see, although in her younger days Jackie never wanted to have children, but always wanted to get married, by her late-thirties she was divorced twice and had three children, and is now living as a single parent Mother in Scotland.

Moreover, due to her having contracted arthritis in her forties, she is now being cared for by two of her children. Though, in turn, she is more than happy to care for her new Grandchild. 

At an early age Suzy's time on this planet was a rather confusing one for her all in all. She went to boarding school because her parents spit-up. Plus in her twenties she was living in Paris and working as a secretary for a short while.

However, by her late-thirties, things changed for Suzy quite a lot. She got married. She had three children. Plus she is now living in a very comfortable house in England with her family.

The life of country lad, Nick, has been a somewhat lop-sided for him to follow really. In his youth he went to boarding school. In his twenties he went to University. Plus by his early forties he was divorced and had a child.

Nonetheless, also during this time, Nick decided to go to America and eventually married a nice American lady, whilst studying and teaching the principles of Nuclear Energy over there. Occasionally he travels back to England, and touch base with his brother and his aged parents whenever he can.

Just like most of the other 'participants' of this program, Simon's early life was quite a dark state of affairs in hindsight. Boarding school. Divorced and with kids by his mid thirties. Plus his career was mainly as a domestic packer in a freezer plant.

Still, when he married a caring lady in his early forties, Nick's frown turned up-side down. He now has a son who he is proud of. He and his wife are both involved with foster care. Plus instead of transporting frozen boxes around a large warehouse, he is currently transporting baggage around an airport.

After watching '56 Up' last week, I felt that perception would be the key to this particular installment of this show. Therefore, for a change, I decided to watch this it with my parents, just so I could get a different take of how other people saw this documentary.

It was a good idea.

My Mother kept on saying "Oh my God! Haven't they aged", whilst sipping her cup of herbal tea. Whereas my Father kept on grumbling under his breath "Poor b*stards. Life was tougher in those days" before scratching his nuts (pistachio) and drinking his tea too. But as for me on the other hand? Questions and Answers. That's all I saw. To elaborate...

The Girls From 56 Up

Question: How do our experiences shape who we are today?
Answer: Now this question has been used to promoted this specific incarnation of this series, and I cannot help by surmise that it is an highfalutin one to answer as well.

Yes. Past experiences do shape who we are today. Life is what you make of it. And in turn it makes of us what it will. Aesthetically, every single person is the sum total of our environment and society, compartmentalised within the path we have travelled and how he have coped our time and our conditioning.

Who is to say that our earliest dreams and aspirations have not in some way steered our adult counterparts? Take Jackie for instance. As a kid she said she wanted to be married . And she still does too. Nick also stated that his future outlook began when his teacher assumed he liked airplanes, which then led him into the field of engineering. Plus, in addition to this, Simon and Suzy's future had also been shaped by the way that they felt as children in boarding school.  

This is how the past changes the future. The Past + External Forces / Our Decisions = Life.

The Girls - Then and Now

Question: Is this program a study, a documentary, or a piece of annual entertainment?
Answer: In this episode both Suzy and Nick said something very interesting about how the public perceives who they are by watching this show. Now for me - personally - I like to think of this documentary as a slice of life captured in a focused, fractured, and entertaining way.

You see, on a certain level, you can view this program like my Mum does. A cosmetic snap-shot of how people visually and emotionally change over time. Whilst, on another level, you can view this program like my Dad does. As an associative real-life 'retroactive family album', where you recollect things from your own past through others via a conceptual foundation. Also, on yet another level, you have to understand that this documentary is not an in-depth study of the human condition. Instead, it is an entertainment based program reliant on communal memory and intriguing characters that you are compelled to follow.

Well, why else would the participants be so diverse, huh? There is the working-class. The higher-class. The down-on their luck. The shit on their shoe. The eccentrics. The alternate. The congenial. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera. Obviously this program was designed by associative means, and has only stood the depth of time due to the vision of one man, Michael Apted. More about him next time week.

To be continued...