There was a time, some 40ish – odd years ago, when the conveniences and gadgets and way of life taken granted for now, simply didn’t exist. We call them the good old days. I’m not entirely sure why …
Telephones: If you look closely at the top right corner in the photo above, you’ll see the nearest thing we had to mobile phones. And the nearest thing to mobile public toilets. Which is why public phone boxes aren’t actually boxes anymore (I assume). And yes, that’s us celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee – the Silver one, ’77. Roll necks under a shirt was the height of fashion. Stop laughing.
Banking: 24/7, 365 days a year, on tap via the internet? No. Back in the day, if you needed anything* from your bank, you had to take time off work or forget lunch: openings times were 9.30am – 3.30pm. And, no, there were no annoying call centres either. You could try phoning the branch, but at your lunchtime when you do, half the staff are having their lunch and the other half are on the tills, coping with the mega queue of people spending their lunch break with them .
*Including cash, since only some branches had the quaintly termed ‘hole-in-the-wall’ machine, there was no such thing as cash back, and not everyone qualified for a cheque guarantee card.
The Pub: Those lovely, family friendly pubs you have now, that you can stop at for a bite to eat on the way home from a day out? Didn’t exist. Kids were not allowed in to pubs, so we’d be left outside in the garden (if we were lucky; car park if not), given a packet of crisps and a small glass bottle of Coke and a straw, while the mums and dads disappeared for a couple of bevvies. If were were extra lucky, they’d bring us another round at some point.
And they closed at 11pm. 10.30pm on Sundays, and between the lunchtime and the evening session. End of.
Buffering was not a word we were familiar with. When we did hear it for the first time we thought someone was polishing something. Or acting as a intermediary between two warring factions.
Power cuts. A regular thing, along with the three day week (not the odd one due to the weather.) Actually, since we didn’t have any gadgets except for perhaps a record player and a black and white portable TV, we just did what we normally did but in the dark: Read a book (by candlelight) and listened to a battery powered radio.
Shopping: As with banks, shops did not have 24/7 365 days a year availability either. You shopped between 9am – 5.30pm only, for everything, with half day closing on Thursday and no opening at all on a Sunday (except Petticoat Lane and the newsagents. And the Jewish baker ). And the only things we got delivered were milk and newspapers, or a large piece of furniture. You think Christmas queuing is bad now?
Put your dancing shoes on and enjoy the Macarena, Gangnan Style, Slide.etc. We had The Slosh (a kind of generic line dance that went with any pop song of the time – I’m gobsmacked it’s still being done!) and Y Viva Espana (you be the bull, I’ll be the Matador). Oh, we did also have the original Locomotion, I suppose. I sadly just enjoyed listening to the whole of Y Viva Espana again. Tapped my toes and everything. I even started shaping my arms and let a few appels creep in. Dammit Strictly, you have a lot to answer for.
Homework: It’s off to the library with you – forget virtual, it was all about reality back in the day. Thumbing through a table full of books to find that one key point. Then doing it all again for the next …
Owning your own home: You didn’t, unless you were rich. Interest rates were 17%. So if you got married, you lived with your parents until your name came up on the council house waiting list.
Meeting up with your mates meant calling them on your home phone and telling them you’d get the next bus. So they’d give it a few minutes then go to the bus stop. From that vantage point, they could see you waving frantically from the front row of the top deck to let you know: This one, get on this one!
Taking offence: We didn’t, so much, back in those very, very un-PC days. There’s an awful lot of offence taken now at stuff that’s meant to be light hearted banter, or was just a tad insensitive. We did take offence if it was insulting or belittling or bullying. There is a difference – it’s all about intent. Only the timelines on Twitter hashtags assure me that the Great British Humour is refusing to be dumbed down.
The Winkle Man, Poplar. Photo courtesy of the Emms family
But, there was some terrific stuff we had then that we don’t now … Space Hoppers (I regularly space hopped my way to the shops) and Choppers. Texans and Spangles. The Corona lorry and the winkle man (left). Red Bus Rovers and adjustable metal roller skates with wheels at each corner. HR Puf’n’Stuf and Banana Splits (which I somehow managed to miss out of my TV themes post) and of course, … Star Wars, the original 1977 version on the big screen. We were there. You can never take that away from us.
Top pic: My own
Other Images: Pixabay/Canva