Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ

Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us AGE.


I do not want to think about the generation immediately older than myself. I am an only child, my father is 98 and lives in England – I live in Switzerland, problem enough. My sons are now old enough to look after themselves, one being at home. I am not really interested in learning anything from the older generation or younger. What do they understand least about me and what can they learn from me? They have their own lives to live and so do I.

The gentleman in the photo is my grandfather pictured in his uniform from World War I (1914-1918) and it seems that in Europe this year there will be many celebrations commemorating the centenary of this war. My grandfather was not a young man when he was pulled into the army. He was in the medical core (see the emblem on his sleeve) and my dad told me his main occupation was collecting the dead. I think that expression sums it all up.

My father was a baby when his father left for the French fields of war. My grandfather returned after the war and my dad asked his mum who that man was in the uniform. She answered “your father”.

Who was my grandfather? I remember him as an elderly quiet person, sitting in his chair in the corner.

According to my dad his younger years were not so quiet. He spent one night in prison as he assaulted a man that insulted my grandmother. Yes he had quite a temper. Dog racing was quite a hobby of the men in my part of East London. My grandfather visited the dog track with his colleagues and my father gave him some money to put a bet on a dog for him as my father could not go. This was the night when my grandfather arrived home in the early hours of the morning, quite inebriated. Yes, the dogs won, but there were no profits to be shown. They had dissolved into refreshments at the bar.

His working life was a night watchman at the Lloyds Insurance Company in the city of London. He worked his whole life during the night. It seems he was successful as during the war years the company kept his job open for when he returned. I remember he had a lovely old clock celebrating his many years as an employee of Lloyds. My dad told me of Friday evenings when he was a boy and the complete family would go to the local market of Stratford. There were oyster stalls and it was the custom to eat oysters. I was surprised; I have never tasted an oyster in my life. It was often combined with an evening at the local cinema or at the Theatre Royal in Stratford.

So what did I learn from grandad: protect the honour of your partner and do not spend the winnings from the dog race on liquid refreshment.

Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ

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20 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ

  1. I thought that was an interesting prompt as it was so focused towards younger people. Took me ages some time ago to work out what generations X, Y and Z were when I first heard the expression. For those of us born in the mid 20th century, it’s almost irrelevant.

    As ever I find WordPress guilty of ageism. They could have at least have mentioned baby boomers, let alone people born even earlier in the 20th century.

    It’s a super photo. You are lucky to have something so old. I have nothing dating back to WW1. Nor any stories of it either.


    • I agree with the comment above about ageism. I felt I was being manipulated into demonstrating respect for the younger generation. I am surrounded by them. They are everything they are purported to be, but the main thing they are is YOUNG. And like all young people they think they know something and they are someone and they are complete. I thought that, too when I was 18. My job — 30+ years of this job — is to come into contact with, sometimes confront, and ultimately dissipate the arrogance and ignorance that are the natural attributes of youth, to help them develop the humility, openness and curiosity that are necessary for us to learn anything. This vocation is challenged today by hand-held computers and fast answers to questions offered by dubious authorities. So…while my Gen Y student might think (because he/she has been taught to think this) “It’s because I’m young that you don’t respect me” the truth is that I DO respect them but I do not AGREE with what they say. For this generation things are very, very, very personal. This makes my job difficult but I can’t kick much. My generation raised them. 🙂


      • I do not envy you forming the minds of the next generation – not an easy job. They grow up in a world of smartphones, online, computers etc. etc. We had to learn it, they have it in their blood. I do not think it is so easy for the next generation sometimes.


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  5. “Protect the honour of your partner and do not spend the winnings from the dog race on liquid refreshment.” That’s a LOT 🙂 I never knew my grandparents and mostly what I learned from my parents was that if I didn’t go to college, I couldn’t go to heaven. That was a lot too.


    • I never actually knew a lot of my ancestors (my grandmother had 11 brothers). When asking my dad about his uncles he seemed to put them into two categories – the ones that liked their drink and the others that liked a gamble – what a lovely family 🙂


  6. I find very moving how the personal stories of the men who lived during the I and II World Wars were tied to events that had little to do with them directly and yet changed their lives. I am from France and although my grandparents didn’t go to war I have heard many, many war stories.
    I also enjoy the richness and diversity of your blog very much.


    • Thankyou for your comment. I grew up in a London still showing the results of a second world war – ruins of bombed buildings and hearing stories from my parents. It was all part of my background. France must also have it stories to tell I am sure. My uncle was in the so-called D-day landings in the Normandy.


  7. Great post, great picture. I have also a picture of my grandfather in uniform with his family before he went to WWI. A farewell picture. Luckily he also came back, the family grew and my mother was born after the war.


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