Like almost everyone else I bemoan the passing of time. Plus like many others I occasionally pontificate as to how life was often, if not better, certainly different in our distant past. Our memories often deceive us and nostalgia takes over. What's the saying,* 'Viewed through rose coloured spectacles.' (Seeing life only positively, in other words, seeing everything in a cheerful and optimistic way.) What's particularly interesting in my case is the fact that I kept a very comprehensive diary for one year, 1985; the year itself of no special significance, but its all there, in black and white. Remembering of course twenty five years is a fair while ago. Whilst you're reading my efforts, can you remember events from your past ten, twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty years.
Diary excerpt, October 1985.
'Paulette continues to attend her Keep-Fit class whilst I prefer to write, watch television and drink home brew.'
Nothing new there then, even allowing for the fact that my wife is eight years younger than me. The home brewing has gone (A necessity when we were young and poor, home brewing is no longer in vogue. Most of us are financially better off compared to the 1980's)
My TV watching is so-so and I am still involved in various aspects of writing. (No blogging then a days)
Twenty five years on, I've had various serious health scares, am diabetic and suffer from fairly serious mobility problems caused by arthritis. My wife was diagnosed a Coeliac in 1987 and also has serious arthritic problems (Despite the Keep Fit). The children are grown up, with children of their own, so life goes on, history in part repeating itself. Progress in a way, mustn't grumble.
Diary excerpt Nov 9th 1985
'My mother died, worn out at the premature age of forty six. I am forty six today.'
My mother died of pneumonia. No one should die of pneumonia, particularly so in the reasonably sophisticated, fairly developed western world. I am not in brilliant shape, with the diabetes and everything else, but they, the modern NHS keep me going. Nowadays my world seems full of geriatrics, in front of me in the queue at the supermarket, at the football, scoffing two for one meals in the pub. Those of mature age certainly 'rule' in 2010. Progress, yes or no?
We have a market at Allenton, adjacent to where I lived at the time. Opened in 1961, consisting of 90 stalls on Fridays and Saturdays it was lively if considered somewhat downmarket. And if Fridays and Saturdays were less than upmarket, the flea market on Tuesday evenings was even less salubrious. Stalls offering every conceivable second hand goods, junk of the highest order, to even less wholesome customers the norm. Shady goods, shadier deals, the shadiest of dealers; great fun, but not for the fainted hearted.
My daughter Sarah aged sixteen befriended a stall holder, helping on his stall on occasion. Her innocent looks and youthful well scrubbed complexion standing out like a beacon amongst the great unwashed. Nevertheless I was proud of her efforts and once took my camera from its case, ready to record her efforts for posterity. Ready to record, not ready for the mass exodus of stall holders within range, who had no desire to have their efforts within the black economy recorded on film; I was indeed naive. Few if any wished their efforts to be available for examination by anyone, and particularly anyone who might conceivably be a tax inspector or the like. Taxes, tax forms, who needs 'em! Benefit fraud was alive and well in 1985.
Fast forward to 2010, a coalition government eager to exert its authority. And what is the 'flavour of the month' at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. Clamping down on benefit fraud of course. Oh well, what's a mere twenty five years between friends! And by the way, Tesco have bought the pub, The Mitre that adjoins the market. Plus all the nearby houses. And guess what, they've bought the market site too. Ah well, that's progress, 2010 style. ( I looked up Allenton Market on the Internet to refresh my memory. A non too erudite web site referred to the market as a 'flee market'; a Freudian slip perhaps! http://www.derbyphotos.co.uk/. Amazingly enough Allenton Market was also listed as a 'Gay Derby Cruising Area'. Even at seventy we live and learn.)
An old man's memories but backed up by the written word. Other memories may not be so accurate. But there is no doubt life changes and inevitably moves on. 'It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.' (Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities.) We smoked in public and went to places like Skegness and Yarmouth for holidays; cruises, not on the agenda. Firms like Cadburys were British and a job was for life. Cameras used films and computers, the Internet, solar panels and i-pods were unheard of. Global warming and the word stress were not in our vocabulary. Plus we knew of Al Green, but Al -Quaeda, never. Times past, but the memories linger on. In the words of Mary Hopkins, 'Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end'. Perhaps, only perhaps she had a point.
*Used figuratively in the 1850's and first used in print in 'Tom Brown at Oxford'. 'Oxford was a sort of Utopia to the Captain.....He continued to behold towers, and quadrangles, and chapels, through rose-coloured spectacles.' And at the risk of being utterly pedantic, the word is coloured, Yahoo, not colored! Just another example of life in 2010, American style.