The forgotten

SIMPLER TIMES: Blackpool was the place to holiday in 1950’s England.

I seem to recall there being no inflation between Queen Victoria’s ascendancy to the throne in 1819 and the near end of her reign in 1901.

Imagine, what you pay for goods is the same as your great-grandma paid. In my lifetime I recall being paid £9.12.6 (€11) per month and paying 10/- (60c) for 200 cigarettes. A single pack of 20 Benson & Hedges is now £7.65.

By adding a Christmas card to my purchase the bill comes to the equivalent of my month’s salary in 1959. Back then I imagined earning £20,000 each year.


My fantasies bought me a nice home, exclusive holiday, a dream car. Today, £20,000 would mean I couldn’t afford to eat and pay the rent.

It is charming to see an elderly person explaining what life was like ‘in their day.’ Even more fascinating would be for grandpa to sit back and let the children tell him how they picture his life.

The chances of having a home telephone, let alone a smartphone, are slim. You need to call someone; you use a state-owned telephone box – if it is working.

A friend expects to hear from you so you pull up a chair. Taking your pen and pad you spend up to an hour writing your letter.

It will be posted tomorrow after you have purchased a stamp from the Post Office. Your friend will receive your letter a few days later.

But, what joy there was to hear the clatter of the letter box and to find on the hall mat a handwritten letter from someone dear to you.

It isn’t the same when you open an email. We could fix our own cars, grow our own food and look forward to a holiday at Margate or Blackpool.

You have a problem with that?

Where does youth go when they leave school today? My classmates went into the armed forces.

Did they like the experience? They haven’t shut up talking about it since.

I enlisted in the Merchant Navy and I saw a world that James Conrad and Albert Schweitzer had experienced.

Torrevieja and similar were quaint fishing villages then. Sorry, you don’t get the same buzz alighting at an airport as you do mooring as flotillas of African canoes and Arab bumboats arrive with their colourful cargoes accompanied by a bedlam of chattering.

My evocations would raise a smile on the lives of children today but the broadest smile is mine. You see, I just managed to enjoy the last days of Nirvana before being suffocated by a materialist self-obsessed world that is constantly at war and values only the tinsel and not the tree.

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