Sunday, 17 October 2010

Times, Are They Really A'changing?

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! 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.


the fly in the web said...

Don't tell me.
I represented unions and their members for years against the worst that Thatcher could do...and at that moment I was glad to have the backing of the EU law..
but moving to France I saw the other no one is protected in the private sector.

Sueann said...

Ah! Well said my dear friend. Times have drastically changed!
"Flee Market"!! How appropriate! Ha!
Cell phones and iPads are now the norm and things we seemingly cannot live without!!!! Who knew?

Valerie said...

Those were definitely the days, my friend, and I was definitely able to identify with most of the scenarios you wrote about. Although I enjoy certain modern trends, I still think the good old days were less complicated, less worrying and almost stress free by comparison to life as we know it today. I enjoyed reading about the stallholders fleeing from the camera.

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

I'm not that "old" yet and I think the "good ole days" were far better than these new modern ones...

Keith said...

"Clamping down on benefit fraud. . ."

Don't I know it! I had a visit last Friday from some pompous ass from the "Ministry of Nosey Parkers" who showed me his identity card and invited himself in to "ask a few questions".

He wanted to know what benefits I was on, my income, my savings etc.,

I am 73, live alone and never had a penny from the state (not for want of trying, I might add!). All I get is my Old Age Pension.

As he had my dossier in front of him he should know that. I think he was just fishing to see if I had anything they didn't know about.

I told him in Anglo Saxon to "please go away" and even held the door open for him as he scurried out!

Lane Mathias said...

Your posts always bring back such memories.

Aren't you glad you kept your diaries?!

Unknown said...

Unbelievable the changes that have taken place over the past 25 years and not all for the better of mankind.

An English Shepherd said...

As Heraclitus said, Nothing endures but change.

Wizz :-)

Anita said...

This post reminds me of my journals from the 80s and 90s. I wonder if I should read them; I'm sure I will again, but now, I feel more "in the present" living each day and trying to get the most from it - facebook, blogs, cell phones, and all!
Mostly, it's the simple things that will never fail to give pleasure though...the sun, laughing, etc.
I hope to see 100 years old, so I'm a little over half way.
Where am I going with this? I know! :)
EnJoy your day!
Oh, by the way, I've had another male to comment on my G-rated "Breasts" post. Now there are two of you. :)

Anita said...

Oops, I meant to say, "I don't know!"

fizzycat said...

Thanks for passing by.Great market story,very funny.
At the grand old age of 43 I notice new stresses.
When I was younger a birthday was a birthday.You might get a gift or see a relative.Possibly get a phone call.
Now you text, facebook, write (email) or speak to the person (sometimes several of these).Communication was simpler and more direct.I'm not sure if we have lost, or gained in this.

Gill - That British Woman said...

a post to make you think. One thing that always confuses me, why is time at a premium now, when we were younger there seemed to be so much more time in the day.....

Gill in Canada

Troy said...

Interesting your comment about computers being unheard of in 1985. I started a new job in June 1985 and there was a PC in the corner of my new office (not on the desk). I switched it on but remember being absolutely clueless as to what to do once the green square dot flashed in the top left corner of the screen. So very different from the computers of today.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Fly in the web
Strangely enough I was a union rep for many years. A mixed blessing

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Can't cope, won't cope, I'm a happy dinosaur!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Re people who won't work, nothing changes but the problem is not easy to solve.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Not sure, and when does one become old. I'm old when it suits me!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Loved it! We 'aint dead yet!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks. I dont know why I did it. It covers different times but all written in 1985.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Gaston Studio
Just read your comments re you on your blog. Fascinating.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

English Shepherd
Heraclitus indeed! Are you really merely a teenager?

Grumpy Old Ken said...

You sound very 'with it'. Good for you!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Forty three, I remember it non too well. But must have been stressed with two daughters growing up!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Ah the joys of getting older!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

i had forgotten we had computers at the British Celanese in the 60's that filled a room. we lowly clerks were never allowed near them!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Enjoyed hearing all that Ken. More please! :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I also remember being at college (London Uni) and the computers were in special places (locked away in the library) and there being a computer block. Times have changed indeed. Not necessarily for the better.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi. Did we refer to those huge ones as computers then, i cant remember. Doesn't time fly!

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