Monday, 13 January 2014

What I Don't Miss About the 50s I

BBC Light Programme - always playing Tea for Two, The Scottish Soldier and Wonderful World, or kitsch arrangements of decent music (Sing Something Simple)

barley sugar, butterscotch and “car sweets” in tins
beetroot in white sauce, cold mutton, boiled cabbage, boiled potatoes, junket, mince, radishes, stale bread
tiny rations of butter (it really had been rationed for about 10 years)
tiny rations of sugar (“It doesn’t need it! It’s sweet already!”)
butter pats, butter curls, butter knives and sugar tongs
hugely elaborate and unnecessarily formal table settings for the tasteless, stodgy, repulsive, DRY food
being forbidden ketchup or chutney or anything that might have made the food slightly more bearable
being forbidden to wash it down with the water which was the only liquid you were given to drink
being made to eat the food you didn't like first
not eating the new bread until you’d eaten all the stale bread (so you never ate fresh bread)

fear of “spoiling” children
telling children they were lazy or selfish, instead of dyslexic or shy
boarding schools
bullying and being told to ignore it
withholding: There was always some reason why you couldn't have what you wanted.


Chinese Checkers, Chinese puzzles, halma, jacks, jokari, ludo, origami, quoits, diabolo, rounders, tiddlywinks (competitive games that required a talent for maths or advanced motor skills, and lacked any element of fantasy)

collecting cheese labels, beer mats, bus tickets, postcards, car numbers, silver paper, stamps, dolls in national costume (You were always being urged to collect things because you were supposed to have a hobby.)

dip pens, fountain pens
hard loo paper

no choice
not being able to complain to anybody
not being able to dislike anything – you had to “learn to like it”

nylon nighties
nylon sheets
paraffin, its smell, and the delusion that you could heat a room with a paraffin stove
superstition that being warm was bad for you, and suffering was good for you

buff, fawn and camel (colours)
boys and men dressed exclusively in buff, fawn, mustard, grey, forest green, burgundy, charcoal, khaki, airforce blue

terrible parenting advice telling you to put your baby outside in a pram for hours and leave it to cry

sports like walking races, hurdling races and water polo

unfunny jokes
unheated railway waiting rooms
unheated rooms

You had to do a lot of unpleasant things to "build character", but at the same time you just "had" a personality. The “character building” crushed your confidence. You were then derided for having no confidence due to your defective personality.

And then along came the 60s, bringing the Beatles, Instant Whip and Lyons sandwich cake, hurrah!


  1. simultaneously depressing (the memories! the horrors!) and cheering that life is so much nicer now. Couldn't agree with you more. Also: having to eat everything on your plate.

  2. Yes - having to eat everything on your plate! Eeeeuuugggh!!! (Thank heavens for paper dolls.)