Not so much a rant, more an observation . . .

As a child of the 1950’s, who was born on the outskirts of Bristol, my horizons were contained by the neighbourhood I lived in. I was born “at home” – not for any trendy reason – but because my father went to get the Mid-Wife on his bike (we didn’t own a car – no one in our street did) and I decided not to wait!

I was delivered by the next-door-neighbour, who became my Godmother, a wonderful and sadly missed woman called Dorothy Nolan (Aunty Doll). I was (and still am!) the youngest child and only son, so had my own bedroom, if you can call a “box” with a single bed and small wardrobe – and nothing else in it – a bedroom.

We, like nearly every other family in my street, didn’t have a TV then. We had an enormous valve operated radio, which took about 20 minutes to warm up, and that was the family focus at meal times. Especially Sunday’s – Sunday lunch with “The Navy Lark”, “The Clitheroe Kid” or “The Al Read Show”; Sunday tea (either cheese on toast or mashed sardines on toast) with “Sing something simple” with the Cliff Adams or the Mike Sammes Singers (God, it was awful!). No TV – No computers – No DVDs or CDs – No PS3 or Wii or whatever.

I firmly believe, that because our outlook was restricted, we were the better for it. No fridge either, so food was always fresh and locally sourced (quite a bit from our large back garden). I am aware that some will swiftly remind me that this ensured that women generally (and my mother specifically) were tied to domesticity. I can’t argue with that, she was; but we all (my siblings, my father, even me) did our share of jobs as well, though – of course – as was the case in those days, the “lions share” fell upon my mother. She was home all day, my father was out, mostly looking for work. He left the Army and struggled, until the 1960’s to find something permanent.

Memory is an unreliable thing, that too I am conscious of, but I sincerely do not recall being “bored”. We played football, cricket, whatever the season dictated, in the street and surrounding area all day. As I said, there were no cars to cause any problems with that. Everyone DID look out for one and other – comics and books were circulated amongst the kids in the street; if you got a new football for Christmas, you were suddenly everyone’s “bestest friend ever “!

A woman up the top end of the street even hand rolled cigarettes and sold them individually! I can sense some readers clouding over with anti-nostalgia sickness from the “we were poor but we were happy” line!! OK, I didn’t contract rickets or polio, so perhaps I have a lot to be grateful for!

Why am I saying all this? – because I feel that one cause of so much depression, illness and anxiety in the world today is the constant drip-feed of aspirational programmes on TV; about the better house, the designer garden, the second home abroad or the exciting holiday that many cannot afford and most will never enjoy. If you are stuck at home nowadays, you metaphorically have your nose rubbed in your failure to achieve the dream life. The only relief from these shows, are the imbecilic “you are all benefit scroungers” mockumentaries; they – of course – REALLY cheer you up . . . .

PaulK 🙂

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lescromps on February 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Wow that;s stirred more than a few memories,were we happier? well I am sure there was a freedom that kids today don;t enjoy,I had a great childhood spent on the moors wondering miles camping out at nights miles from home great.I think people today worry to much about what they think they need,not what they;v got.


  2. I agree Paul. I tried to write something similar a while back but it didn’t quite happen!
    How can someone fail to feel bad when they are constantly being told that they’re not earning enough, that their car/house/clothes/children’s school/holiday isn’t quite good enough? The constant pressure to perform better, earn more, aim higher has to take it’s toll sometime.


  3. Posted by Lynn on February 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I agree Paul! Boredom for kids wasn’t invented then. Long days in the street of skipping, playing ‘runouts’, days in the local park (here’s a jam sarnie, see you at 6)…oh the memories. But we survived and were better for it IMHO! Oh, lets not forget making carties out of an old pram base, playing marbles on the drain covers (we didn’t even get typhoid – H&S hadn’t been invented then either). It saddens me to see the children in school now who go home and get straight on the X – Box, or whatever the fad of the day is.


  4. Posted by Lynn on February 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Also; in the 60’s we dug up anthills, poured boiling water down holes and what did we have? DEAD ANTS. Try doing that now….Animal Welfare will be round, you’ll be on the 9 O’clock news, and social services will be coming round……


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