Nowadays, when we get upset if our broadband speed falls below 2mb it’s fascinating to reflect on the changes which have taken place within one lifetime. My uncle, Peter Gresswell (see yesterday’s posting), when he was well into retirement, wrote a history of the village of Stanton St John, the village near Oxford in which he lived for most of his adult life. In it he noted that:
Electricity was connected in the 30’s and 40’s but some houses were not connected until after the war. Some black and white 9 inch television screens were in the village by the early 50s. Mains water came in 1947; before that, water was taken from the eighteen wells in the village. Mains drains, i.e. piped sewage disposal, did not arrive till 1970; before then the village was riddled with individual septic tanks and soakaways.
My uncle believed that a serious point wasn’t worth making unless it could be done with humour, and he included this postcript to the book, under the heading:
(for those born before 1940…)
On a more frivolous note, some of the changes affecting people’s daily lives in villages as well as towns in the last half of the 20th century, are set out in this anonymous proclamation for people over 60 in this year 2000. Much the same applies to those over 50.
We were born before television, before penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, plastic, contact lenses, videos, Frisbees and the Pill. We were born before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ball point pens; before dishwashers, tumble dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothes… before man walked on the moon.
We got married first and then lived together later (how quaint can you be?). We though “fast food” was what you ate at Lent, a “Big Mac” was an oversized raincoat and “crumpet” we had for tea. We existed before house-husbands, computer dating, dual careers; and when a “meaningful relationship” meant getting along with cousins and “sheltered accommodation” was where you waited for a bus.
We were before day care centres, group homes and disposable nappies. We4 never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yoghurt and young men wearing earrings. For us, “time sharing” meant togetherness, a “chip” was a piece of wood or fried potato, “hardware” meant nuts and bolts and “software” wasn’t a word.
Before 1940 “Made in Japan” meant junk, the term “making out” referred to how you did in your exams, “stud” was something that fastened a collar to a shirt and “going all the way” meant staying on a double decker bus to the bus depot.
Pizzas, McDonalds and instant coffee were unheard of. In our day, cigarette smoking was “fashionable”; “grass” was mown, “coke” was kept in a coal house, a “joint” was a piece of meat you had on Sundays and “pot” was something you cooked in.
“Rock music” was a grandmother’s lullaby, “Eldorado” was an ice cream, a “gay” person was the life and soul of the party and nothing more, while “aids” just meant beauty treatment or help for someone in trouble.
We who were born before 1940 must be a hardy bunch when you think of the way in which the world has changed and the adjustments we have had to make. No wonder we are so confused and there is a generation gap today… BUT…
We have survived!