The Pig in the Python, the Great Demographic Bulge, the Baby Boomers: however you like to describe us, those who grew up in the years following WW2 were remarkably numerous. Between 1945 and 1965 there was a 50% increase in Australia’s population— and we were it.
Ours has been in general a fortunate generation, experiencing more extensive and rapid changes (mostly beneficial) than any previous generation. Now that so much of our living lies behind us and so little of it remains ahead, memories loom large.
When remembering the past begins to slide into obsessive reminiscing, it’s especially likely to trigger — on the part of anyone too youthful to appreciate our vast repository of wisdom — the ironic response “OK boomer.” We try to treat such cruel dismissiveness with dignified forbearance.
For those who, whatever their age, are willing to test the possibility that boomers may occasionally have something to say that’s worth listening to, I recommend a noteworthy podcast series. Compiled by the writer Iris Lavell, it can be found at this site:
Episodes so far include informal interviews with a musician, a sailor, a painter, a soldier — and an author: that’s me. I talk particularly about some of the things that have shaped my writing of historical fiction.
Many boomers are drawn to historical novels — not, I think, as an escapist impulse but rather because the experience of imaginary time travel can enlarge our understanding of the present. Most of what we read in our newspapers or see on our screens is set within a framework of contemporary assumptions, and this is reinforced by the narcissistic preoccupation of most social media with updates among circles of friends who share the same outlook (or inlook). If our minds are not exposed to anything other than the self-absorbed here-and-now, we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture that the past can provide.
It’s a topic I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog, for instance here.