Heston Blumenthal can turn a collection of ingredients into crab flavoured ice cream. The ‘A’ team can make a tank out of a 1980 Chrysler and the contents of a barn. A group of Californian tech heads can come up with things like iPhones. Pharmaceutical wizards in white coats can come up with new drugs and formula 1 geniuses can form pieces of plastic into championship winning aerodynamic devices. Yes, making something must be incredibly gratifying for any man.
I say must be because, like so many others, I can’t make anything. Sure, leave a bicycle in bits I might be able to take a stab at reassembly, and I’m a small cog in the amazing, but unnoticed, leviathan that is the World wide logistics system. But there is nothing I can point to and say, “yes, I had a significant hand in creating THAT”.
That shouldn’t be a surprise. Despite the supposed individualism of our society we are all now more then ever cogs in the machine. The tinker, the tailor and the candle-stick maker have been replaced by the personnel manager, the sales administrator and the warehouse worker, and there are far fewer people who can say “I made that”.
Except… there is one way that we can still bring a personal creative mark to the World. A privilege to create where we don’t have to study, gain experience, have any certificate of competence, have any flash of unique inspiration, climb a career greasy pole or slave for years in potentially fruitless anomity. We can create new life. And not just any new life, but human new life.
A scientist may study for years in order to have an attempt at cloning or make some minor genetic change to a simple organism. Yet any man and woman can create a entirely new, unique, made in God’s image, other person as soon as they feel it’s the right time.
And we make that person not just in the physiological sense. After the miracle of nature comes the responsibility and privilege of nurture. Our daughter may become famous, a prime minister or great scientist. We hope and pray she becomes a good person. Whatever happens we know the World will be a better place because of her very existence; humanity will have a new, unique, addition. My parents imparted their ideas and moral codes to me, and then as my own person I’ve adapted and developed those teachings to determine how I live in society. Now our daughter will become her own person as well who will adapt and develop what we’ve taught her, and how she brings that to the World will be our lasting legacy.
Getting stuck out is one of the hazards of a truck drivers life. The legal clock is always ticking and when it strikes 15 hours of work that’s it, you have to stop, roll out the sleeping bag, whack on the night heater and spend the night in the cab. I usually do day work so I’m dependent on ‘planners’ (notice the quotes) to ensure that the wagon, and me, are safely back well before one of us turns into a pumpkin. Especially on a Friday.
Of course we are not just subject to the law of the land, but also the laws written by Mr Murphy, and there is plenty to go wrong in transport.
A couple of Friday’s ago it looked like such a confluence of laws was about to happen. After a long day I was still two and half hours away in Hereford, in an interminably slow queue of trucks waiting to be unloaded, with plenty of time to listen to the radio telling me of the snow chaos that was being visited on the UK road network. Not so long ago this would have OK, an adventure even. These days I just want to get home to my pregnant wife.
Eventually it was my turn to tip (unload). “Have you been there?” says the lad driving the forklift, gesturing towards my head. Ah yes, I was wearing my Nurburgring baseball cap. Yes, I have.
And that was it, he was off. He had a Golf with super-dupa bits, his friend had an Astra with 240 hp, he knew some good rally drivers, this about cars, that about cars. He was a Special Car Nut, an absolutely petrol fuelled obsessive. I recognised him, because I used to be him. And I wasn’t that interested. Then his boss came out, and it came about that I mentioned that I had to get home to my expectant wife. He asked a question or two, and then I found myself bubbling with enthusiasm.
So then I realised something else had changed with me. Old obsessions had slowly receded into being just passing interests. Why? Because I’m going to be dad, and nothing is as good as that.
PS I did manage to get home that night.