Saturday, 24 February 2007


I’ve been to visit my 82 year old father today and we got to reminiscing as we usually do.

My father thinks television is the greatest invention of all time and still wonders, every day, at the moving pictures that come into his lounge. This got me thinking of the things we take for granted like electricity, gas central heating, hot running water – just the basics really of everyday living.

I remember that until I was 12 years old we lived in a two up, two down house with only cold running water, gas lights, an open coal fire and a toilet in the back yard. We didn’t have a telephone or a television. We were lucky though we did have a radio. We had no bathroom, just a tin bath that my mother or father would fill after boiling endless kettles and pans of hot water on the cooker. My two brothers and I would take it in turns to have a bath in front of the coal fire. Our toys were simple – I can remember making dollies out of pipe-cleaners, playing with my whip and top and, in summer, sitting on the kerbside in our street popping pitch bubbles in the road with a lollipop stick. That was when English summers were really hot, hot enough to make the pitch bubble! We didn’t have a garden but I did have a swing – a piece of rope that I tied onto the lamp-post at the end of the street so I could swing round and back again. My Dad made us a cart out of an orange crate, which we had begged from the greengrocer, and some wheels he took off an old pram – how fast we went down the hill on that! We played skipping and two balls up against the wall, hide and seek and tag. There was a river nearby where we lived and we’d spend hours skimming stones, unfortunately it wasn’t very clean so we couldn’t swim in it but it was like the countryside to us. Oh, and on my 11th birthday my father came home from work with a bicycle for me! Granted it was second hand but I thought it was the most wonderful present ever. I think I still have the scars from my attempts at learning to ride it. I can just imagine what my grandchildren would think of having to live like that!

When I was twelve we moved to a brand new house about 12 miles away. Not because my parents had suddenly come into money, but because of the slum clearance programme run by the council, which meant that our house was to be demolished so therefore we got a new one. This meant that we would be living in absolute luxury compared to what we had been used to. We had three big bedrooms, a bathroom, a separate toilet, a large lounge and a fitted kitchen, hot and cold running water and a gas fire. No central heating mind but still luxurious. We also had a huge garden back and front. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

I sometimes tell Sam (our eldest grandson at 7) about all this and he looks at me as if I have just landed in a spaceship! Most children today have everything they ever dream of; they are so lucky in that respect. But, I can’t help feeling that because things come to them so easily they never really appreciate what they have. I am happy for my grandchildren that they don’t have to make do and mend like I had to, I just wish they would learn to make their own entertainment sometimes instead of relying on the television, or the X box or some other ‘game’ that costs as much as it would have taken my Mother to feed us for a year. When the grandchildren come to visit I like to play simple games with them – making things with plasticine, drawing pictures, building bricks or preferably running round the garden – not that I can run much these days.

I sound like a moaning old biddy now don’t I? Customize your blog

Oh well I guess I am a little, but it does no harm to remember your roots now and again – it makes you appreciate what you’ve got a whole lot more.

Oh someone shoot me before I get old!!!!!!


Annelisa said...

No, not moanie,Akelamalu ... I remember similar (though I'm a wee bit younger)... I went barefooted at home, to 'save' the good shoes, we had a tv, but it only had two black and white channels, which were only aloud to watch on Saturdays. The outside toilet was cold... oh so cold... and you didn't want to leave the fireside to use it. I slept in a caravan in the garden, with my two sisters, because our house wasn't big enough for all of us (mind you, I loved that - we had our own living room to play in!! :-) )

... and if I wanted anything I had to work for it... I was so happy when the wages went up to 60p an hour... that meant 1pence every single minute... and I counted 'em... every single one!! :-D I bought a bike and an accordian with those hard-earned wages... boy did I love them!

I totally agree... things come way too easy for kids these days. They wouldn't know how to 'do without' or 'make do'... everything on a plate (boy are we old fuddy-duddies!! :-D )

Annelisa said...

Oh, I forgot to say - Good luck with the op on Monday!

Akelamalu said...

Glad it's not just me than. Does this mean we are members of the "Well it never did me any harm" brigade? :)

Thanks for the good wishes hon.

Queenie said...

Outside toilet, luxury. I lived in a paper bag in the middle of the road, you were lucky. Sorry couldn't resist doing that. Babe it made you who you are, and you are a wonderful person. So it maybe proves something about our society today. Hope you've packed those leopard print PJs for tomorrow.

Akelamalu said...

queenie - was your paper bag a detached or a semi? :)

No pyjamas I wouldn't get them on would I, have to make do with nighties.

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