Remembrance of Things Past

Mostly about growing up the 1950s in Ilford, Essex.

[50] Half a Century


[50] Half a Century

After fifty posts, as a bit of a change, this one is more about blogging than about the fifties or sixties.


The Process of Blogging

It has been strangely easy, (in an addictive kind of way,) to generate up to 2000 words for a post every three or four days, but it’s not like writing anything else, and it has certainly not been how I imagined it would be. It is hard to describe what I do because I am generally working on several at once, in various stages of development!

One of the few conscious decisions about it that I have taken is to mix it all up, merging threads together and interleaving new ideas with old – so sets of linked blogs don’t come consecutively. Less than a third of posts come from my old notes, with most coming from new ideas. New topics just seem to come to mind easily, with each new topic idea often generating threads for several posts.

While I write this now, I have: five posts ready, loaded and scheduled for publication; two virtually finished; about three partially done; eight more partially written; and nearly twenty as outlines, heading lists or just titles. I flit backwards and forwards between all of these at once!

I never really know in which order I will complete the partially written ones. Some posts just take about an hour to whizz through all at once; some take weeks of reflection with a revisit every day or so.

As I work on blog posts, sometimes splitting larger posts into two or more, I generally look for background material, mostly coming from Wikipedia – confirming what I remember and filling in gaps.

Once a post is written, I don’t check everything meticulously. I try deliberately to keep them rough and ready in blog format. Before uploading, I check spelling and grammar; look at the spread of the pictures through the blog; check cross-references to earlier blogs; and make sure the word count is approximately OK. My target now is 1500 to 2000 words but I am happy to go up to 2500.


I do all the writing on a laptop and uploading is very easy. It would be a simple cut and paste without the pictures that I have to upload separately. I give them a date and time for publication and I could just leave them to WordPress to issue automatically. Generally I issue them a few hours before the planned time, to make it easier to publicize them within Facebook Groups.

I like to prepare things in advance so there are always at least two posts in-line for issue, generally a few more.

The hardest ones are those that get to about seven or eight hundred words, leaving me not sure what to do next – I can try to fill it out, or combine with another topic, or leave it for the time being! As the order is immaterial, it’s so easy to go to another one, sometimes changing the order. [40] ‘Dear Sir or Madam …’ was the hardest so far. It started as a third of a post, coming with [30] ‘Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?’ and something else now forgotten. Names soon became a whole post, but Formality was only about half a post. I kept putting it off. I did complete it but I don’t think it was one of my best. I struggle with anything to do with attitudes – but I believe that attitudes are the most significant change in our lives.

When they get to 1500 words, I sometimes get the other problem – should I keep going and it and split it? There may not be an obvious division. The Christmas one took some juggling. At various points, it was going to be two, then three, then four – so I had to have them all more or less done before the first one went out. Now I am less definite about word count. A few have gone out over 2000 words.

Some of the very easy ones have come out of nowhere. I loved doing [31] The Ngorongoro Crater in the Serengeti as they were all fond memories, and the same is true of the three music ones. Post number [39] Just What I Choose it to Mean was another easy, enjoyable one.

There is always a tendency to like the most recent one. At the time of writing, that’s the one about Robertson’s Gollies. I had put that one off, partly because it only looked like half a blog. Then Black and White Minstrels came into my list of old TV programmes and I could see how to put together a whole post. Cigarette cards and tea cards had always had an obvious link with the Marmalade brooches.



A Google search for images is not as easy as it might be. Not unexpectedly, I find a variety of pictures coming when I search on any set of words that could possibly be misconstrued as a search for pornography. (To be honest, you get such results even when there is no such obvious link or double entendre.)

There are also things from the fifties that seem to have disappeared without leaving any pictures – particularly when a different type of replacement is now used. I couldn’t find an old-fashioned standard tin opener, or one those keys for tins of fish, or a set of London Telephone Directories. I am happy to go with a few roughly relevant pictures just for illustration, preferably spread throughout the blog post.

Links and Cross-references

I have very few links outwards (mostly to YouTube for musical items) but I like to cross-reference to other posts I have done. It’s easy to do a backwards link – to a post already loaded and published. But the software makes forward links impossible. This includes links to those that are written and loaded but not yet published! It gets quite complicated when I swap the order of posts that reference each other! I have just moved number [54] back to [46], which meant changing all the ones in-between.

Posts so far

I was going to do a separate blog with a list of all postings so far with links. Now I have a page that will do this for you – the Full List of Posts. You can find all the posts from there. I am renaming old posts to make it easier to look for back issues. (Links should always work.)

So here are some notes to update what I have published so far.

Topic Introductions

Several posts have been created as an afterthought, because another topic needed an introduction. For example, [27] ’Normal Service will be Resumed …’ was taken out of the beginning of [29] ‘Was it Bill or Was it Ben?’. Similarly, [35] ‘Valentine 3456′ was going to be a short introduction to [37] Car Tax, Family Allowance and Dog Licences, and [41] Flash, Bang, Wallop! had to come before [42] Aspirin, Negatives, Saucepans and Hammers.

I have tried to categorize most posts – so that you can find them more easily. All posts display a list of Categories on the right and you can use this to find related posts. Some Categories have some semi-logical structure imposed, so they are best read in order.


After an initial reluctance to tackle it, this is now quite an extensive Category. It started with [3] Religion, which came from a vague attempt to do some of my original Introduction. I feel that so much of what was different then comes down to attitudes but this is so difficult to get across without evidence or detailed explanations.

I thought that [11] and [13] – now renamed as [11] Newspapers and [13] Secrecy– were two halves of a single idea about Information. Now I have classified the first one as reflecting the Technology of information and the second is about Attitudes to information.

[20] Vive La Différence was specifically about sexual discrimination, another one coming from my original Introduction. [40] ‘Dear Sir or Madam …’ was a difficult post, originally seen as a continuation of [30]. I get mixed up in changes of attitudes including formality, respect and politeness.

Attitudes continued later with [43] Cigarettes, Tea, Minstrels – and Marmalade – quite difficult as it put together several topics which are not obviously related – cigarette cards, tea cards and collectable brooches; musical entertainment and racial attitudes. I hope I have made it clear that the racial connections are there to reflect how things were.

The way that attitudes have changed prompted me towards [47] ‘The Past is a Foreign Country: They do Things Differently There’ which is particularly about not judging the past by how we feel now. I am not sure whether there will be any more in this Category.


[24] ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’ started this thread, after putting it off several times, by looking at some Beehive Lane shops. I was never sure how to order it or split it. So far it has continued with [28] ‘Clever People and Grocers, they Weigh Everything’, [37] Car Tax, Family Allowance and Dog Licences and [42] Aspirin, Negatives, Saucepans and Hammers. I expect to complete this thread with one more covering Department Stores and Clothing shops.


[2], [5] and [6] were my first attempts about Homes, looking at Winter, how we provided heat and how we kept warm. These are more or less my old notes with quite a lot of background details added from Wikipedia. [5] is more about clothes but [2] and [6] introduce what was inside our homes – coal fires and electricity.

There is more to come on this topic.


[7], [8], [9] and [10] about Christmas, just grew and grew. I felt that had to get them in by Christmas Day. I may have made some minor mistakes in this series. Things that I remember about traditions that have lasted forty years may not go back as far as fifty or sixty years ago. But I am not aiming for complete accuracy. I did not promise that.


It’s a bit of an afterthought putting things together in this category. So far we have [11] Newspapers, [17] Cinema, [35] ‘Valentine 3456′ and [41] Flash, Bang, Wallop!. There could be several more posts here, looking at various technologies for musical, video and television recording, computers and computer games. (No system of Categories is going to work perfectly. The post introducing Television can be considered either in the Technology Category or under Television, a subcategory of Entertainment.)


[26], [32] and [34] are just one extended blog post about Music. These might have been prompted by the records at Minnis Bay. I started with a sort of Desert Island Discs – maybe my top five or ten – but the list kept growing. I went eventually for 100 and was surprised how easy they were to find on Wikipedia and YouTube. I loved doing these musical posts. Finding recordings and adding the YouTube links was fun but made it hard work. Because of the alphabetical order, the three posts were more or less done together. Now I keep thinking of some I missed out! So there may be another one later.

Television – and Radio

[27] ’Normal Service will be Resumed …’, [29] ‘Was it Bill or Was it Ben?’, [31] The Ngorongoro Crater in the Serengetiand [33] Thunderbirds are Go! has been a complicated series. My first thoughts were about my TV Heroes. A few weeks later, I realized that I had to do Children’s Television, which I thought in terms of Watch with Mother. The Introduction to this became a separate post. Then I extended the Children’s Television one chronologically to provide two separate posts.

I missed out David Dimbleby deliberately from [31] but will come to him later. I have more TV reminiscing to come.

This also prompted me to consider the wireless (Radio), so we have [38] “I’m Worried about Jim,” inspired by the entry in my music posts. This is definitely my earliest memory of radio. I have more to come, starting with Two-way Family Favourites.


[15] and [16] about Primary Schools started another new thread, Education. They had to come before the Eleven Plus, Secondary Schools and University – so more blogs coming here.


It took me a long time before deciding to do [44] about my first house in Boar Close. I will have to continue with something about the next house and I am considering how much I will say about people I knew – maybe just my parents. There will definitely be one or two posts, specifically about St Andrew’s Church.

General/Mixed Category

Some, especially the lists, remain hard to categorize so they end up in two categories or in a general mixed category. [4] Modern Things was a light-hearted attempt to get across the technological aspects of the changes with a mixed list, something I repeated later with [23] Variety is the Spice of Life, and [39] Just What I Choose it to Mean. [22] ‘Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax’ put together some odd things I wanted to include that would not fit anywhere else. I am not sure whether I will be able to do this again. I keep thinking, ‘Put x, y and z together for a blog post,’ and then find I have enough for three (or more) separate posts.

One-off topics have included [12] Football Pools and [14] Birds.

Coming Next

Apart from some things mentioned above, I still have several major topics not yet touched, so there may new categories – cooking and kitchens; banks, building societies and finance – and maybe the last sixty years of history – geographic, political and economic – and some surprises – and expect more new topics to come up – also, probably lots more miscellaneous lists of things.

I keep juggling the order in which I plan to do things so expect the unexpected.



It’s time to recognize some of my sources:

Wikipedia – This is my main source of background information, often just checking names and dates. I try not to copy directly without at least rewording and re-ordering the information. It is very useful for recent information but can be patchy on anything fifty years ago!

Google – This is my main search engine, mostly used to look for pictures. I have used Google Maps a few times.

YouTube – I have been very pleased by what I find on this site. I don’t take anything from the site, I just provide direct links to it. These have made the three Music blogs worth doing. (You will have to put up with the adverts that YouTube try to throw at you. I just ignore them.)

Internet in general – My pictures are almost all free pictures taken from the Internet, including some from Wikipedia. I assume that anything without obvious copyright claims is copyright free. Some, especially the birds, are my own photographs.

Facebook – I get various helpful comments and information from friends and relatives and from a few Facebook groups that reminisce about the fifties and sixties.

Apart from these, it’s all from my own memories. I don’t guarantee 100% accuracy.


I want to reiterate that I am not trying to achieve complete historical accuracy. Apart from my attempts at adding background information and dates, I am just going by my memories. There are many things I remember without remembering what year they happened.

It is often easiest to make sweeping generalizations. If I say that, ‘This is the way we used to do things,’ I may be implying that the whole of Britain used to do it that way. I really only know what one family did in the area of Ilford. Even when I talk of modern day events and attitudes, I can only say how it looks from my experiences. Things may be different in Scotland or Wales, or in Devon or Norfolk, or in the house next door

If you like what you read please ‘Like,’ ‘Follow,’ or comment here on WordPress; or ‘Like,’ ‘Share,’ or comment on Facebook.

If you have any queries or requests, please let me know.

Thanks for reading. Lots more to come …

Author: Alan

Retired, currently living in Cheltenham.

2 thoughts on “[50] Half a Century

  1. Your comment that in writing it isn’t as you would have imagined,I am finding that when I read back my stuff that it almost takes on a style of its own. What is nice is that, apart from a few opinions you hold, it is so you or at least how I perceive you. Although you say that your main aim wasn’t to get it exactly right one can see how all the way through that your academic career has dominated the way you were clearly wanting to do a thorough job and one which I am sure everyone, not least your family have so very much enjoyed. Thank you Alan Eryl


  2. Pingback: [88] Christmas Comes but Once a Year | Remembrance of Things Past

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