When I was young (1)

Yesterday, I was enlightened, amused and bemused when I read an article with the intriguing title: “33 things the kids of today will never understand“. The big thing for me is that what was on the list came and went quite a way into my adulthood, and while I agree with the statement regarding most of the things that were listed, there were certain things listed that I didn’t understand then and don’t now. For a bit of fun and a departure from the more weighty stuff I typically dish up in these postings, I thought I would cast my mind way back to my pre-teen years growing up in my home town of Southend, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. I have resisted the temptation to harp back to the good old days that in any case never existed, at least not entirely, and present my own alternative list of things that fit the bill that only those around then would  appreciate.

  1. These were before the days of woman’s lib, gay rights, permissive society, computers, digital electronics, Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Spice Girls, David Frost, Doctor Who and England winning the football world cup.
  2. There were only two TV channels: BBC and ITV, and television screens were less (often a lot less) than 20 inch,  were black and white and interference with the picture was a regular occurrence, and then many had no TV, including my folks up to I was nine.
  3. Bill and Ben Flowerpot men, Andy Pandy, Watch with Mother and Woodentops plus the launch of Crackerjack and Blue Peter.
  4. Hopscotch (for girls), British Bulldog (for boys).
  5. Saturday afternoons might be spent watching Grandstand on BBC TV and, as an alternative, watching wrestling on ITV.
  6. We (at least the boys) watched Robin Hood and the Lone Ranger on television and acted out some of the scenes at playtime.
  7. Playing conkers and marbles took place in the school playground and swapping cigarette and tea picture cards to build sets.
  8. Drinking from one third pint bottles, milk during the mid morning school break.
  9. People wrote letters to, and occasionally telephoned (although limited due to cost and, besides which, many were without their own phone), those who were too far away to visit.
  10. With occasional exceptions, a woman’s place was in the home.
  11. Looking on with pride world globes and maps and noticing how much was covered in pink, marking countries that were part of the British Commonwealth.
  12. Playing all day in the local park (which had no swings or children’s playground) without adult supervision.
  13. Buying 2p packet of chips after our cub pack meetings.
  14. Half penny (even farthings), threepenny bits, sixpences, shillings, half crowns, ten bob notes, in regular use (all pre-decimalisation).
  15. Things measured in pounds, yards and gallons as opposed to kilograms, metres and litres.
  16. Collecting “penny for the guy” and celebrating Guy Fawkes Night with bonfire and fireworks on November 5th, and only on that day. Halloween was unheard of.
  17. Cinemas were a big deal and Saturday morning children’s cinema was often eagerly anticipated and well attended.
  18. Nothing much going on Sundays when it came to organised sport and entertainment, and shops were shut, but there was always Sunday School, which was well attended.
  19. Door step deliveries, not just milk but other stuff too, and then there were the doorstep collectors – HP repayments and insurance premiums.
  20. Local, independent shops to cater for most everyday needs and a flourishing high street that catered for all other needs.
  21. Wide range of comics to choose from – a veritable treat – and then there were the war comic books and Superman and such like comics from America.
  22. People paid in cash (sometimes cheques and postal orders).
  23. Most people did not have cars and relied on public transport.
  24. Trains going almost everywhere in the country and they were steam driven, at least earlier on.
  25. Most people lived in rented accommodation (usually council houses); with home owners being in a minority.
  26. Few black people around and the same for those from other faiths and, when there was discrimination, it was often fairly overt.
  27. People were more deferential, respectful, acquiescent, formal, easily contented and class conscious, e.g. voting for parties along class lines and addressing people by their proper titles.
  28. We hanged murderers.
  29. The Common Market, later to become the European Union, was starting up and Britain wasn’t in it, thanks to the French veto.
  30. Few children went onto university and most left school at 15.
  31. According to British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, we had never had it so good.
  32. Given the state of technology at the time, which amounted to type writers, type setting machines and tele-printers etc., record keeping, and there was a lot of it, was largely paper based.
  33. People didn’t travel abroad anywhere near as much as they do now and many did not holiday far from home if at all. Day trips to Southend, Blackpool etc. were a popular attraction.

Overall, are the changes for the better or not? Why the changes? What changes can we expect in the future? For a consideration of these and other questions, look out for the sequel to this post 🙂

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