October 17, 2010

The Good Old Days?

I think it is human nature to look back and remember "the good old days" (hereafter TGOD) with misty-eyed joy.

I certainly do. But it wasn't everything that was good, was it? It just seems that way now. Less complicated. Freer. More care-free. Cheaper, obviously, but we tend to forget that the price of things is tied to income, and since most of us back then (just like today) were on or below the average salary, it was just as expensive. Back then we could never imagine a pint of beer costing £3.50, or a loaf of bread costing £1.30, or the cost of a litre of petrol (never mind a gallon) costing £1.20. Fags at nearly six quid a packet? Do be brief. A can of coke costing £1? Jog on. Our TGOD were back when things cost a fraction of what they cost today.

Forty years later I visit nations in Africa, and I can buy a loaf of bread for 6 pence. I can buy a coke for 12 pence. I can buy a litre of petrol for 10 pence. I can buy 20 smokes for 35 pence. Yes, most of these developing nations are inhabited by the poorest of the poor. Bread at 50 pence a loaf would rot on the shelves. Fuel at £1 a litre would go unsold. If the market can withstand higher prices, then that is what happens. Supply and demand, but only if the price is right for that particular market.

When I was very young (mid sixties), freedom meant running around after school in bare feet and a pair of shorts. I was as brown as a berry. It meant swimming in rivers, fishing, catching snakes, finding massive bullfrogs the size of footballs, diving for balls in the local golf course lake and selling them back to the course pro, and generally lazing around in the sun. I could probably still do all that if I wanted to but the climate here doesn't lend itself to barefeet and snake-catching. TGOD in Rhodesia was when we had one black & white channel on the telly. It only ran for 6 hours a day so my folks would hire in a film and a projector and invite all the neighbours in to watch old films. Then, TGOD in South Africa were when they launched SABC. In colour! One channel in English and one in Afrikaans. We would watch either channel and be just as captivated. This was the early seventies and life still contained some magic. TGOD is highly subjective and everyone has a different version, and crucially, a different time period for their own TGOD.

The reason my title has a question mark at the end is because I wondered, stupidly I suppose, if today, right now, will become someone else's TGOD five, ten, or fifteen years from now? And why?

Will it be because "Back in 2010 we only had 5 million CCTV cameras, nowadays we have well over 40 million. Several in every home, just as the EU mandated"?

Will it be because "Back in 2010 we only had UK coppers to worry about. Now there are 27 different uniforms on the street and they all carry guns, which they discharge without any obvious provocation"?

Will it be because "Back then there were no food riots"?

Will it be because "Back then we still had the £. A real £, mind you. Before they ended cash money"?

Will it be because "Back then our first language was English"?

Will it be because "Back then we weren't microchipped"?

I could go on. And on. But you get the picture. What is it that defines "The good old days" and what is it that will define now as the good old days in the future?

Everything seems to be getting worse, everywhere and all the time. And we encourage it. We encourage it because none of us say "WHOA! This is it. This is where we draw a line. This is where the rot stops".

I am distinctly uncomfortable with today. These are not good days, so for me they will never become the good old days.

Do we soldier on, as we are? Do we keep telling ourselves that ignorance is bliss?

Or do we try to change things now, while we still can?

CR.

24 comments:

FireballXL5 said...

Yes nostalgia is a wonderful thing, keeps me sane, much better looking back than forward!

Sounds like an idyllic life you had back then in Rhodesia Capt. shameful how successive governments have turned their backs on the white British passport holders over there who have been looted, raped and murdered by the Mugabe regime.

The sixties were my growing up decade too, I think there was generally much more optimism about then, the music, the cars,the fashions, white heat of technology looked primed to deliver us a fantastic futuristic world. Hope abounded. It never quite happened though did it, the seventies put paid to all that.

One difference this time I think is that the youngsters don't think there's much of a future for them, more people are waking up to the view that the way to a promised land isn't the route we've taken in the last forty years.

Captain Ranty said...

Fireball,

I just proved my own point, didn't I?

It was good but it wasn't idyllic. Mugabe was tearing around killing, bombing, maiming. Our lads were in the bush hunting down the Terrs. It was almost perfect in the early days when Unle Ian Smith declared UDI but looking back, the black Rhodesians were always going to win.

I missed out the illegality of apartheid in South Africa. The way blacks were so badly treated. Arrested for fuck all, gaoled for months without trial, the banning orders that said some people could not "gather" with more than one other person, house arrests that went on for years in some cases.

Maybe we do just tend to remember the good stuff.

The bad stuff creeps up, slowly, unannounced, and seemingly unimportant. Until it is.

Our only hope is in the youth.

Maybe it always is, in each successive generation.

CR.

Caratacus said...

Thanks CR; one of the most thought-provoking posts I've read for a very long while. First reactions are to agree with you ref TGOD, my childhood is memorable for its freedoms too. Friendly plod, safety in an ordered society where shitbags were dealt with summarily and often without recourse to due process, etc.etc. When I started driving petrol was 5/11d a gallon (equal to 6.6p per litre), but then an average wage was £12 a week...

The question of whether we try to change things answers itself - of course we do, our consciences cannot dictate otherwise. But I would say that change will come anyway, even the sheeple will come to a breaking point, maybe led by the example of the more excitable johnny foreigners as they start to storm the Bastille, the Reichstag or whatever. Then the fuckers at Westminster and their Obersturmbannfuehrers in Brussels will reap the whirlwind.

Going away for a ponder now!

Captain Ranty said...

Caratacus,

I agree. I think we will see some tremendous changes in the next few years, but will we want them?

The "change" is sought by each new generation and with luck, it is brought about by them as well.

But what if you don't like it? What if all this PC shite, the multi-culti, sharia law creating, the cameras, the whole EU abomination, IS this generations' change? What if they actually WANT it?

That's what worries me the most.

CR.

Anonymous said...

I too was a boy of the sixties. Poor yes, and so very happy. I laughed at the middle class hippies and rode my bike (always built them myself) like a demon.

Dad worked long hours, loading lorries with drainage pipes for the new motorways. Mum was the cook at my school. Dorset in the sixties was unchanged despite the war. Plenty of folk still around who spoke the Wessaxen dialect, sang and whistled as they went about their business.

People used to sing to themselves when I was a boy, sing to each other as well. Laughter on the corner where people gathered, strangers as well, and talk about nothing really as they waited for the shop to open. The good old days, when we were still one people.

Steve

Caratacus said...

CR - Haven't finished thinking about all this yet (I am a Bear of Little Brain), about PC shite, the multi-culti, sharia law creating, EU bullying, but I know this - I am an evil old fucker when it comes to protecting my family in particular and the downtrodden in general...

Harbinger said...

CR,

I did some investigating to see that only twenty years ago the cost of living has shot up by around 280%+ compared to the standard of living.
For example, although it's only 20 years ago, there is a huge change in the way things are:

1990:
Wage in a pub: £3.20
Rent of a room before bills a week: £25/30
Pint of Beer: £1.20
Packet of cigarettes: £1.80

2010:
Wage in a pub: £5.93
Rent of a room before bills a week: £95/100
Pint of Beer: £3+
Packet of cigarettes: £6+

When you look at this the results are quite staggering. I worked on the door back in 1990 and got £12.50 an hour. I'd come out after a night's work and with that wage (4hrs £50) I could either pay:
half my rent for the month
50 pints of beer
33 packets of fags

Now, the wage on the door an hour has dropped in some cases to £8 (and less). It means after a 4hr shift one earns just over half what they did twenty years ago and when you tally up what it will pay for as above:

1/3rd of rent paid for a week
10 pints of beer
5 packets of fags.

When you look at the minimum wage CR, in order to compare the rise in standard of living to cost you'd need to increase it up to about £9.60ph.
In a nutshell CR, society's been getting stuffed, by continued lower pay, reduction of overtime/doubletime and an increase in basic necessities with which to live - we've been getting fucked. Again this was all planned.

To see George Carlin at his best yet again, which deals with this precise situation:

George Carlin ~ The American Dream

Anonymous said...

Yet another kid from the sixties here as well.
Happy days, playing in ditches, farms and the countryside. No mobile phones, tiny black and white TV, no computers, yet my days were full. Everyday was outside no matter what the weather was, cars in my neck of the woods were so rare I would collect the number plates.
After working in London for 25 years I've now moved out to a tiny quiet peaceful village again, they still do exist!

defender said...

I was just a boy in the 50's, born and grew up in Jamaica, seen the Union flag taken down and the flag of independance raised. I have many happy memories of those times. I managed to make it til '79 when it became just too dangerous for me.
Today, I would'nt go back if I was paid. Sad really.

Caratacus said...

@defender That's one thing which many UK born Brits never really appreciate. The thought of never being able to return to the land of your birth because it's too bloody dangerous is one of the saddest things of all.

We're spoilt here and are in danger of losing it - or having it stolen from us - because of venal politicians AND general public apathy. I hope you have managed to make a decent home here. (If you're anything like my Simla born cousin, you're probably more British than I am...)

Sue said...

I don't think it's necessarily nostalgia I feel. It's a sense of loss, like someone has died.

Life wasn't better, it was different. The atmosphere was one of hope and people used to smile and greet each other in the street. Some even left their front doors open.

I remember clubbing in central London and walking back to the east end in the middle of the night and nobody bothered me.

The atmosphere is now hostile, distrustful and we have lost control of our lives and our country (and make no mistake it IS STILL OUR COUNTRY).

I was once proud of being English/British and someone has taken that away from me. I'm not proud of being a European.

I regret that I didn't notice what was happening earlier, I regret that I didn't try and do something before it got this far.

It's never too late. We need a plan.

Sue said...

I was born in Libya by the way, I was born into the army. My dad was the original Alf Garnett, we even had the Queens photo on the wall.. I was brought up fiercely proud to be British.

Richard said...

Just a note of caution: every generation says this. The idea of a Golden Age, when things were better, people were kinder, kids nowadays, and so on, goes back a long way. They were saying the same things in Athens, 5thC BC.

However, I think you can safely say that Britain in 2010 is objectively worse than 50 years ago. Society is more violent (a punch-up then is a gun crime now) and thgere is definitely less community spirit. I still believe that the Brits are a tolerant lot, and for many centuries we have had immigrants, and they have largely been absorbed peacefully and been valued as part of society. The big difference is the scale and speed of it over the last 15 years. We feel we are losing our country, and we don't like it. If that makes me a 'bigot' (GB) then so I am. I'm not racist or prejudiced at all - but I believe that this is my country and if you want to come here you assimilate and take on our values. When people come here who will not, and are encouraged by politicians and professional stirrers not to, then I don't like it. It sounds daft to say 'we were here first' but that's what it is. The 'here first' argument applies to American Indians and Aborigines, apparently, but not to us.

Richard said...

"I'm not racist or prejudiced at all - but I believe that this is my country and if you want to come here you assimilate and take on our values" To amplify that a little - if I were to go and live in another country, I would expect to have to do that myself. I'm sure Sue wouldn't expect the Spanish to build her a bingo hall at their expense just because it's part of her kultcha.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful film "Tiger Bay" exemplifies, within first 15/20 minutes, how much we have lost since it was made in 1959. I recently watched it with a late teens niece and early twenties nephew. Their comments were illuminating and frighteningly sad as they watched a male stranger interact (including touching) with children in a playground, kids with cap guns and one with a cap bomb. All familiar to me as a youngster.

Roue le Jour said...

The way it's supposed to work, I believe, is that you grow up in a society, learn its rules, then put that into practice as an adult. All us post-war children have been stuffed in that respect, as the society that we spent years learning the rule for as children no longer exists. The future is a different country too, and we are unwilling immigrants in it.

James Higham said...

We try, against organized opposition.

I am Stan said...

Yo Capitan,

It started going downhill when they changed Mars to Snikers.

Still life`s what you make it,you gotta roll with the punches and come back fighting,makes me laugh people living abroad bemoaning their perceived loss of British identity,go back to the beach and leave us Brits to get on with it says I...:(

Richard said...

It wasn't Mars, it was Marathon. Mars bars are still on sale, or at least that's what Marianne Faithfull told me.

By the way, I have often thought about moving abroad to live, especially in the darkest days of Blair and Brown, but I never thought that moving away would bar me from commenting on the state of my home country. Once a Brit, always a Brit.

I am Stan said...

@Richard, I stand corrected,see how confusing the modern world is!

How can you truly judge the state of your "home country" while lying on the beach sipping sangria?...even the Sun newspaper is a day late.

Richard said...

Life's a challenge, for sure. I still haven't got over the name-change from Jif to Cif. Cif always sounds in my head like 'syph', which was a norty word when we were kids.

And I'll take the sun and Sangria and put up with the lateness of the Sun, thanks very much. In fact, I would even cancel my subscription.

vervet said...

Harbinger - thanks for reminding me of the incisive comment/comedy of George Carlin - one of the few speakers of truth.

What concerns me is the disconnect between his support and the inactivity of the sheeple.

He filled Madison Square Garden - thousands and thousands of people wildly cheering, whistling and clapping at his unvarnished descriptions of the ruling elite, our undemocratic government and the evil influence of religion.
His u-tube videos getting up to 3 million hits.

But 2 years after his death where are these people ... where are the 'movements for change'. Did they really all think it was just stand-up comedy ? Do they think about what he said after they leave the theatre / move on to another u-tube offering ?

Depressingly it seems to me that the rulers of the planet have won with ease.

Harbinger said...

Vervet,

That is odd, I know. He had a lot of support but now he's gone so are they??
I suppose many of them were Democrats to say the least, when the overwhelming majority should have been Ron Paul supporters.
I think sadly they did think it was all about stand up comedy. He was leaps and bounds ahead of the rest and he never actively got involved in politics apart from the odd evening on a chat show.

I particularly liked Carlin because I pretty much agreed with everything that he said. And more importantly the above video more so, because he pinned it down when he said "just smart enough to run the machines and do the paper work and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours the reduced benefit, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it and now they're coming for your social security money....." amongst the rest.

Will TPB win? Are they winning? Well they've always been winning Vervet and that's the point. The only time when people will wake up is when they realise they're "they're getting fucked up the ass by a system that threw them overboard thirty years ago." This is reality. Our society is a selfish, materialistic and superficial, non community society which is just what TPTB want. They want disconnect. They don't want a united people. This is why they promote multiculturalism because a united people unite to stop the oppression of one another, a multicultural one doesn't.

It's reality. Will it change? It will only change when people wake up, but as Carlin says "It's called the American dream and you have to be asleep to see it!"

He speaks of anywhere in the west.

selsey.steve said...

Rhodesia, eh, CR? Bamba zonke, that's what you were!
I was a Northern Rhodesian, where the money came from, the MINES!
We, too, had an idyllic childhood. Out of the house at 0700, back again at 1900 with no questions asked, even when you'd taken your own .375 rifle and a fist-full of ammo with you. Why? Because you were trusted!
I never shot anyone, none of my friends ever did either, but we all brought home lots of impala meat. We all took along our fags (1/- a pack of 20), we only ever drank at parties (when we were 15) and got whacked the next morning if we'd up-chucked on the floor. Ever been whacked when you're hung-over like only a young teenager can be hung-over?
We were completely FREE, without a care in the world. We went to school all wearing the same uniform, we all rose when the teacher entered the classroom, lots of us got caned for transgressions of the all-important rules. That school, with its discipline and rules gave me seven bloody good O levels (the Associated Examination Board O levels, the hard ones) and a degree of literacy which has stood me in good stead during my adult life.
I thank that school and the staff. I also give thanks for the life-style I so thoroughly enjoyed, but never knew it.