Saturday, 22 December 2018

Fifty Reminiscences


Merry Christmas to all my reader (sic). I have completed my usual pre-Christmas 36 hour fast and awoke on the second day with a clear head – and this is what popped into it. See how many of these reminiscences ring a bell. If you score more than forty then you are probably more than sixty. If you cannot remember any of this then… lucky you. 

Memories are factual (unless false) - not judgemental. Additions welcome, send to

I remember when:

Pubs were pubs and thriving
And freedom of speech prevailed, mostly
And women were women
And men were men
And children were allowed to be children
And a national conscience was shared
And parenting was the responsibility of parents
And poverty was not the lack of a dishwasher
And women wore skirts and dresses, mostly
And there were less laws and less lawless
And drugs were things that pop stars did
And people thought the police were there for us
And swearing in front of the children was bad
And swearing was used sparingly and to express strong emotions
And people did not swear on the TV and radio
And there were only two sexes, plus homosexuality
And smoking was sometimes prescribed rather than proscribed
And fox hunting was unpopular, but thought necessary
And green belts were places that you could not build on
And old people’s homes were a rare thing
And Prozac and Viagra were unheard of
And racism, unfortunately, did exist
And footballers were paid a decent wage
And banks and bank managers were trusted
And it was possible to repair things that broke
And weather extremes were accounted to the weather
And snowdrops were nice little white flowers
And Christmas lasted for a week at the most
And wearing a seat belt or crash helmet were both optional
And almost everything except churches closed on Sundays
And collecting car registration numbers was practical – though odd
And bicycles had three gears or one
And women who acted were called actresses
And to be gay was to be happy
And air travel was for the wealthy
And there were markets, but no supermarkets
And vacuum cleaner, fridges and dishwashers were luxury goods
And mobile phones, the internet and personal computers were from science fiction
And the genome was an unknown
And crisps were plain with optional salt
And cancer was incurable
And human life began only in the womb
And sugar was OK
And coffee was a little exotic
And teachers could hit naughty kids
And global warming was undetected
And chemical contraception was unknown
And buses had conductors
And leaving school at 15 or 16 was the norm
And only 4% of people went to university


  1. This list was sent to me by Bjorn Runngren of Sweden

    Before people carried books around and even read them.

    People believed in Father Christmas.

    Common pastime during the winter was skiing and skating.

    Then we had the cold war and now it's the hot war.

    Before a spade was called a spade.

  2. And here is a comment from and old and respected colleague which adds goodly number of reminiscences:

    And a national conscience was shared except for the spivs
    And a spiv wasn't president of the USA

    But when footballers were all on a fixed wage which was NOT decent.

    And central heating was unknown, you bought your coal at a discount in the summer and fan heaters were new.

    And Jack Frost ice patterns formed on the inside of bedroom windows.

    And when you turned on a light the bulb went pop and put the house in darkness.

    And you plugged the iron into the light socket because there wasn't a power socket ( round pin!) in every room.

    And banks and bank managers were trusted but banks closed at 3pm (don't even ask about Saturdays)

    But you had to make a good case to the manager for borrowing from banks unless you were middle class enough to have investments that you didn't want to break into.

    And personal financial advisers did not sell you credit you did not need.

    And John Bloom sold the new front loading washing machines door to door.

    Woolworths sold paper collars to put on your shirts.

    My grandmother who had worked in service sent my grandfather's shirts to the laundry.

    And there were pig bins in the street for your waste food.

    And the ministry of agriculture paid farmers a premium for each rabbit's tail they presented.

    And bicycles had three gears or one exept the few with four hub gears before these disappeared.

    And most of the bikes were made by British owned Raleigh in Britain.

    And TV police programmes were not about murder.

    And black and white Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour films seemed to be on TV every Sunday afternoon.

    And you could take your Ford car to the factory at Dagenham where apprentices would fit an exchange reconditioned engine.

    And Ford cars had manifold vacuum operated screen wipers which stopped when you put you foot down to go up a hill.

    And old cars had to go up very steep hills backwards because they did not have a fuel pump.

    And Police boxes were as usual as Ford Prefects. ( get it??)

    And buses conductors issued coloured tickets which we collected.

    And only 4% of people went to university I thought it was only 2%.

    And London Telephone exchanges had names.( part of which you dialled)

    And trunk telephone calls were set up by the operator who had to check whether the connection was good enough to talk over.

    And hospitals had nurses homes.

    And no one knew who Alan Turing was.

    Not all radios were superhetrodynes.

    And the Archers replaced Dick Barton Special Agent on the Light Programme.

    And the radio weather forecast was a full 5 minutes.


All feedback welcomed. Feel free.