Saturday, 17 March 2012

Subtle change, Blink and You Miss it.

    An Indian reader recently took me to task for daring to suggest India was a Third World country. (The point I was making if I rightly remember was that your survival in early years was partly dependent on where you are born.) The writer seemingly had qualifications, lived in a city and had an 'important' job. All very interesting. A recent Indian government report states that more Indian households have a mobile phone than a toilet. (private toilets 4% of population) 17% need to fetch water from more than a kilometre away. Only 2.3% of households have a car; 66% of Indians still cook on firewood, cow-dung, crop waste or coal. I suspect, sadly that too many either do not know how the other half live or are in denial.

    I am seventy two years of age. So I clearly remember life and changes over the past sixty plus years. You might find some of the following interesting. They are NOT world shattering observations, just small things in the main that show subtle changes in one man's lifetime.
Toys at Christmas and birthdays. In particular I remember a small, around 4 inch long jeep. A WIND-UP toy. I wonder at what stage wind-ups vanished from the scene. (It was my eight year old grandson Tommy's birthday this week. Presents included an IPod and a Wii game.) 
I also had a pocket watch, again wind-up. I probably swapped it for something else. Much, much later in life I had a computerish type watch that was all singing, all dancing. (The children I taught in the seventies had noisy alarms on watches that went off in lessons until I took a fire bucket into a lesson!) When did this sort of technology creep in I wonder.
    I had a bike, second hand with a dynamo that created light by a wheely thing rubbing against a tyre. Hard work, the faster you peddled, the brighter the light. I remember it well!
We collected BRS numbers and the obligatory locomotive numbers and names. Gradually diesel trains became the norm, far less interesting than their dirty, smokey predecessors.
We listened to Dick Barton on the radio and in the blink of an eye he was no more. They filled in our canals, called schools comprehensives and built bypasses round town. (Derby has just completed an inner ring road designed forty years ago!)
    People worry when they start to forget things. For goodness sake, what do you expect if you live to be over thirty! I remember the first Eagle comic (1950) and the moon landings; (1969) they have specific dates. Most things do not; like us, they just fade away. Remember drip dry shirts. Where and when did they go. When did you last see a 'What the Butler Saw' in an amusement arcade? Do you remember 78 records going and did you have a Dansette record player? I remember when they hanged people for murder in this country (In the morning whilst we were in school assembly) but wireless accumulaters and cameras with a film in them, not so sure; nylon stockings with seams, horses delivering milk and groceries, dubbin and smog, all gone.
    By the way, my Indian friend, I too lived in a house with no inside toilet. A pair of toilets, side by side down the garden. With pans underneath that they emptied on Fridays. But all a long time ago. Happy days!


Gill - That British Woman said...

I was just talking about indoor and outdoor plumbing with a friend the other day, our neighbour 30 years ago in Britain had no indoor plumbing at all. her one and only cold tap was in a shed just outside her back door and the toilet was at the end of the yard.....


Harlow said...

Other things we wound up or cranked were a Victrola, a ringer on a washing machine, an ice cream maker and, of course, starting the car.

the fly in the web said...

My father told me about carbide lamps on his bike...they went out, you peed into them and they came on again.

Sueann said...

What about jumping rope and playing jacks and pick up sticks?
So many things that brought such joy and companionship!
One thing that could go is the new word verification thingy!! I hate it.

Harlow said...

Cars had running boards, rumble seats, manifold heaters, and spinners for the benefit of one-armed drivers. It did make it hard to give hand signals before there were turn signals.

Harlow said...

Two more things done by hand and arm: water pumps (often with a tin cup attached) and gas pumps.

Galen Pearl said...

Like SueAnn, I remember jumping rope and playing jacks. And just riding bikes with friends around the neighborhood--our version of a biker gang, I suppose!

Mike and Poppy said...

Ken wrote: "They filled in our canals"

A lot of inland waterways enthusiasts have been busy over the last 60 years digging them out and returning them to water again. All despite the best efforts of the British Waterways Board.

Just started our 8 month long cruise around the canals. You can find us on


More power to your pen.

Mick n Mags