David Bouchier

Petros Giannakouris / AP

At school we learned a poem by Shelley called Ozymandias that began with the words: "I met a traveler from an antique land," and I always wondered where the antique land was. When I came to Long Island I discovered that it was right here, down in the Hamptons, where selling antiques seems to be the main industry in whole towns and villages. There is a mysterious force, like gravity, that attracts old furniture and what are humorously called “decorative objects” to certain places. This force has not been definitely identified by scientists, but I think it's called money.

Courtesy of Pixabay

I very nearly posted a photograph on my Facebook page the other day. This would have been a rare event. Normally the page simply sits there, unchanging, like a picture on a gallery wall. Some of my friends post pictures of themselves, their friends, relatives, pets, airports they are passing through, and even meals they have cooked or eaten in restaurants. But I don’t want to force my friends to live my whole life at second hand, it’s just not that interesting.

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The labels “introvert” and “extrovert” have been around for a hundred years to describe two personalities we all know well. Introverts are reticent, quiet, and quite enjoy being alone. Extroverts are more sociable, generally louder, more talkative, and more active. These are stereotypes of course, but where would we be without stereotypes? Most of us have no trouble in accepting one or other of these labels for ourselves, and for me it’s easy. On a test of introversion, I scored 100 percent, which is the best I have ever done on any test.

They say that nostalgia is never what it used to be, and that’s true. But still it never goes away, and renews itself in each generation. Nostalgia is the warm feeling we get when we imagine the good old days. Television, and especially public television, is a wonderful source of ready-made nostalgia, with its apparently endless series of quasi-historical dramas, many of them British, like Midwives, Home Fires, Victoria, the perpetually repeated Downton Abbey, and now The Victorian Slum.

The German philosopher Hegel, whose theories have given more headaches to more students than any number of keg parties, once said: "What we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."  If Hegel was right, you have to wonder why we have traditions like Memorial Day, which are designed to remind us of the past.