Saturday, 22 November 2014
What I Don't Miss About the 50s 2
Now UKIP are trying to drag us back to the 50s, let's remember the good old days. (Thanks to friends.)
There is an ancient attitude, too, that I saw in my mum and which seems to have disappeared along with the wireless and the mangle and the lardy cake: no fuss, no moaning. (Liz Jones meets the Pullein-Thompson sisters.)
Dirty jokes and dirty stories – that co-existed with repression and being unable to talk about sex (or advertise condoms or sanitary towels).
Novelty records (There’s a Moose Loose about this Hoose, the ant and the rubber tree plant, Would You Like to Swing on a Star, They Swam and they Swam Right Over the Dam)
Idea that you shouldn’t hug or touch a child too much. (And you shouldn’t pick up and cuddle a crying baby.)
Idea that you had to wash vegetables in cold water, or they would go limp. It couldn't even be slightly tepid. And potatoes don’t go limp. You had to risk frostbite and what’s much more important – you had to SUFFER.
We were exhorted to form clubs and design our own badge. But they never told us what the point was. I suppose we could have had a club house in imitation of adults’ golf clubs and social clubs. They were always trying to turn us into adults too soon – except for the sex part.
Tin bath in front of the fire.
Ice on the inside of the windows in the morning.
Coats on top of the quilt to keep you warm.
Burst hot water bottles.
Weekly wash day when the kitchen was full of steam from the gas clothes boiler.
Short trousers till you were at secondary school.
Sadistic teachers with leather tawses.
The smell of my grandmother cooking tripe. (JB)
Even worse having to resort to violence to stop people bullying me.
Very few sweets even the Sherbet was rationed.
Violence on the Streets.
Water freezing solid in the glass in my bedroom.
Children being abused - and the cover-ups.
Being forced to go to church and Sunday School.
Being forced to be a Christian - which I am not.
Having to Read the Bible out in classes, didn't make sense then - even
Seeing children in dire poverty, we appear to be moving back to that.
Having everyone in one room as that was the only one with heating.
The sheer pomposity that abounded the "class society" yes even as a little
un I remember that. (TD)
Some more reasons to loathe the 50's: Being routinely beaten by teachers (from the age of six in my case) with implements including shoes, rulers, straps, canes and cricket bats. Brutal, brutalising and utterly ineffective.
Pollution: the London smogs were appalling and killed large numbers of people. Rivers and canals were bio-hazards and disgusting beyond belief.
Housing: I never met anyone with central heating. Houses were heated with coal fires (hence the smog), typically only in one or two rooms. Homes were freezing in winter. Many were draughty and cramped. Even in the early 70's I visited slum houses in East London with no inside toilet. In the 50's north these were commonplace as were back-to-backs* with a shared toilet block at the end of the street. Then imagine getting up in the night and trudging down the road in a northern winter to use a shared toilet.
Parenting: It seemed to be a grim business for most parents, with children being seen as creatures needing to be forever disciplined and constrained. The idea that spending time with children might actually be fun seemed not to have occurred to many people.
Safety: Many workplaces were positively lethal. As were the roads. As a seven year old child to get to school I had to cross a six lane road (with central reservation) having no speed limit.
Food (again): Many families in the north couldn't afford enough food. Despite full employment money was that short.
Even if your experience was different, surely you can see that for many people the 50's were grim?
* Before anyone comments, check that you know what a back-to-back actually is ;-)