I read history books, the history of mankind, and the history of the world.
We live in a world of threats .
And fear (mongered mainly by the media and the government)
I observe that I am better off than the aristocracy of a few hundred years ago.
This observation came about during a conversation with a friend who rescues greyhound dogs, now that greyhound racing is being curtailed. She owns a greyhound.
She’s lucky, she says, because back in the Good Old Days(TM) only the aristocracy (think “Henry VIII”) were allowed to own greyhounds.
“So you are better off than Henry VIII!” I remark.
Unlike the aristocracy of the 1600s (Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, Dukes, Earls, Lords, Barons etc) I do not live with glassless windows in a draughty stone building. I live in an electrically-heated apartment in downtown Toronto.
With the boom in condominiums the area is crawling with middle-class citizens, especially young people with smart phones, twenty-four hours a day. I am unlikely to be mugged, and if I am there are well-meaning citizens around to help me.
No unlit alleys for me on my way home from the pub.
My apartment is warm and well-lit; I can read hundreds of books (from the millions available to me for free from the Toronto Public Library) at any time of the day or night ...
... with a mug of hot tea, coffee or chocolate, made with boiling water from an electric jug (a flick of the switch ...).
My (electric) refrigerator is full of healthy food and drink, and I can restock it from any of the five supermarkets, all within a twenty-minute STROLL from where I live. The furthest supermarket can be reached by electric streetcar if my legs are tired.
The supermarkets provide a disgusting range of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy all the year-round. Strawberries are slightly cheaper in season, but otherwise ...
I add herbs and spices to my dishes if I feel like a little piquant flavour, but I don’t add spices to hide the smell and taste of rancid meat. There are cartons of iced-cream in these supermarkets. And there are grocerybrokers who will deliver to the door of my apartment.
If I want to chat with my friend, it is not a one-day or two-day trip through the bush to establish contact, but we do, each, have to locate our tiny cell phones and one of us has to stab at ten digits with a forefinger.
I have not yet died of the plague, boils, or an infected scratch or a dog-bite. Pigs do not root around the garbage outside my door, and I have no hesitation whatsoever at drinking the water from the various taps around my apartment. And the pipes never freeze.
That’s the same water I can use to draw a soaking hot bath five times a day, if I choose, and never run out of hot water for baths, showers, dish-washing or laundry. Although why the automated washing machines in my building need hot water I’ll never know.
I don’t actually go to the Toronto Public Library to order books – I can do that using my laptop at a nearby coffee shop. I place books (and movies and music and ...) on “Hold”, and a nice young man locates the books, pops them in a little truck, and drives them to my local branch at Yorkville Public Library where they will appear in “my” position on “my” shelf. Magic!
I use the same laptop to send words like “hyphenated” and “nonhyphenated” to my son in Adelaide, South Australia, and quick as a flash he replies with “monosyllabic!”. Fun!
I use the same laptop to gauge the speed of the heavy winter rain storm traveling up the valley of the Ohio River, judging whether I have time to nip out to the shops, or whether I should leave the errand until tomorrow.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
“Eat your heart out, Henry Tudor!”