Remembrance of Things Past

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


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[113] All Manner of Things Shall be Well

I am coming near to the end and I want to do a broad summary. It will be a bit rambling, without any pictures and full of sweeping generalizations. I have put in lots of links so you can find out more details.

Disclaimer

I don’t want to give you pages and pages of Terms and Conditions as we seem to get nowadays but I just want to make it plain that these are my views. For the Fifties they are the memories of a young boy brought up in a large family in Ilford with no knowledge of life outside my family and school. Even in the Sixties I knew little outside my small world. News and information from television and newspapers was far more restricted than today

Technology

We had virtually nothing of modern technology. There were fixed line Telephones, which we hardly ever used – more or less just for occasional local calls. Our house had Electricity but we didn’t have many uses for it. We had an electric iron and very, very occasionally in winter an electric fire might be used. Basically electricity was for lights. All the things you now think of as automatic just didn’t happen. We survived without Computers.

If you wanted to write anything you used a pen or pencil. Offices used Typewriters, which were only used by typists and Newspapers were produced by a complex, cumbersome labour-intensive process taking several hours.

For Photographs we had cameras and photographic film. You might take 36 shots in a week’s holiday and then wait a week for a single tiny print of each one. We did have Cinemas producing films but people did not make their own moving pictures.

(Perhaps the most automation we ever had was in traffic lights. They were very simple with no fancy stuff like lanes or filter lights or pedestrian signals. Some of them were able to detect when traffic arrived to hasten on the next change.)

Standards and Authority

Attitudes were more Formal and Standards were different especially our views about women, children, ethnic minorities, animals and sexuality. (‘Ethnic minorities’ is a modern term. We didn’t have them. There was some open racism towards ‘black’ people – and Irish!)

We respected the Authorities even though we had no knowledge of how they worked. (There was no Internet!) We trusted and believed doctors, teachers, policeman and generally vicars. If we didn’t there was no way we could question what they said or did. If something went wrong we accepted it – we didn’t think of suing anyone for damages.

Most people more or less accepted the Church and there were many more believers and regular churchgoers. The Church played a significant part in our education and our attitudes to Christmas, Easter, Whitsun and Sundays. St. Andrews Church at Ilford played a significant part in my life.

Government

The government and Civil Service covered much, much more than today – coal, gas, electricity, railways, telephones, television and national savings. Education, doctors and hospitals and local government services were more centrally controlled.

Society

Families stayed together. Men and women stayed married. Men and women were different. The man of the house worked; women stayed at home and were housewives; children grew up with their parents. More complicated family situations were rare. Homosexuality did not exist. (I am talking about generalities and public perceptions. It was not openly acknowledged or accepted.)

Most married women were housewives and there were few opportunities for work for women. Women expected to get married and raise a family at home and were generally happy with the situation. Housework (making beds, shopping, preparing and cooking food, cleaning and laundry, together with looking after children) took most of the average housewife’s day – and a lot of the evenings and weekends! Men were expected to do little at home and probably did even less.

Children, particularly those below school age, were looked after by their mothers because there were no alternative arrangements. Growing Adolescents remained in the care of their parents and could not vote until twenty-one.

While the man of the house earned an income and paid for regular bills (gas and electricity, rates, telephone etc.), he would pay a housekeeping allowance to his wife to cover basic food, cleaning and probably children’s clothes. In general, this allowance did not include anything for the wife to buy clothes or cosmetics (although most generally saved enough to look after their basic needs).

There was still the attitude that men made the major decisions for the family without consulting their wives, and wives just followed their husbands. The marriage ceremony included the promise for wives to ‘… love, honour and obey…’

[A major difference that affected all aspects of family life was that Contraception was not easy and abortion was illegal. It was not considered ‘right’ for unmarried women to have children.]

Law and Order

My impression is that there was much less public disorder and crime, but this may be partly from the innocence of youth. Police mostly operated on foot. There were no police cars. All they had was a police whistle to call for assistance.

There were different standards but crime, like other aspects of life, was more local. We didn’t have fast cars or easy roads.

Food and drink

Families ate together at home eating simple foods cooked by the housewife of the family.

Restaurants were up-market, much rarer than today and for special occasions and the rich. Eating at a restaurant was a more formal occasion and a more formal process. Except when on holiday, ordinary people rarely ate in restaurants or hotels. (Restaurants in those days were limited to British or perhaps French Cuisine. Foreign restaurants started to emerge in the sixties with Indian and Chinese restaurants.)

The only ‘fast food’ in the fifties was fish and chips, and for most people this was the only experience of eating out. The fish and chips were usually taken home, wrapped in newspaper, but there were facilities to eat in the shops. This would have been a much more informal and cheaper experience than eating in a proper restaurant.

The first equivalent of the American revolution that was fast food hit England in the early sixties. It was the Wimpy Bar. This was a glorified coffee bar which served hamburgers in buns (‘Wimpy’) but not exactly in the Macdonald’s takeaway fashion. They were served, with chips, at tables and on plates, with knives and forks – a downmarket version of restaurant service. The real takeaways such as Macdonald’s did emerge, in their full American format, until the seventies. After that came Pizza and other culinary imports from the U.S.A.

Pubs were much more common. They were crowded with men (not women) who drank pints of bitter and smoked. Pubs did not mess around serving food. Alcohol at home was less prevalent.

By modern standards, cafes were non-existent. When shopping in Ilford Mum might have a cup of tea at a department store café. That was it.

Television

Almost all early Television was live, not pre-recorded. (The only real exceptions were programmes repeated a day or two after their original broadcast.) Also, in a way which is not easy to define, there was a much narrower range of programmes, only what the middle class establishment of that time would consider to be in good taste. This consisted of news, information and entertainment based on ‘Variety’ (i.e. singing, dancing, comedy, magic, circus acts etc.) Sports broadcasting was virtually unknown as technological limitations made ‘outside broadcasts’ (anything not done from the central studios) both difficult and expensive. Back in 1950 there was no choice of viewing, no television advertisements no phone-in programmes, no Soaps, no reality television, no live football, no morning television.

We had one channel for a few hours each day with very poor quality black-and-white pictures on a nine-inch screen! My memories of Children’s Television date from these earlier days. By the late sixties we had three channels, still not broadcasting all day and still without the reliability and picture quality we expect today.

I have a whole series of blogs about particular stars of television – from David Attenborough and Doctor Who … to David Attenborough and Doctor Who!

Of course in the Fifties Radio was just as important with Mrs. Dale’s Diary and Two-Way Family Favourites.

General Entertainment.

At home, people spent some time watching television, listening to the radio, reading and perhaps making their own music. Pianos were nowhere near universal, but were far more popular than today. Cinema was more popular. If people went to the theatre, it was a far more special night out than now. People more often just went out walking together.

Pop Music hadn’t really started. Televised sport was almost non-existent – apart from the weekly football results.

Education

I have said a lot in my blogs about Primary School, Secondary School and University life all of which were much more formal than today. I can only speak for Grammar School education, which may have some similarities with the few remaining Grammar Schools today – including my alma mater, Ilford County High School, which still exists. Teaching was based on chalk on blackboards, reading from textbooks and writing in exercise books. Our most sophisticated visual aids were – coloured chalk.

We had just the traditional subjects, formal homework, end-of-term examinations and hand-written reports.

Shopping

We had simple local ShopsGrocers, Bakers, Butchers, Newsagents, Chemists, Hardware shops and Post Offices were common. Big towns had Department Stores but there were no Supermarkets. If I take an example, the baker might sell half a dozen types of loaf (only one of which would be sliced and packed,) white rolls or brown rolls and a few types of cakes. We were not burdened with Choice. There was, of course, no on-line shopping.

Transport

There were no motorways, just narrow roads going through the centres of towns so that long-distance travel was a series of traffic jams. For local shopping parking outside the shops was easy and free.

 

Money

We used cash and coped with pounds, shillings and pence and it was all done by mental arithmetic. Shopkeepers gave us the right change. Credit was virtually non-existent. Banks managed all their calculations without automatic calculators or computers.

By way of a diversion, here are some typical prices from the Fifties (or perhaps early Sixties) from memory. I have converted pre-decimal money to approximate decimal equivalents.

  • 1p would have bought a cup of tea. (Coffee was 2p.)
  • A stamp for a letter was about 1½p. (There was no distinction then between First Class and Second Class post!)
  • A Mars bar was 1½p, a Kit-Kat 1p. (Most other chocolate bars did not exist then.)
  • A bus ride started at 1p and was unlikely to be more than 10p. (Buses were double-decker and had bus conductors.)
  • A small loaf of bread was about 4p.
  • A haircut (for men) was about 5p.
  • A pint of beer in a pub was about 5p.
  • A cheap plastic ball-point pen was about 10p (and probably still is).
  • Single records, when they started, were about 33p. LPs (33 rpm) were about £2 to £3.
  • A three-course meal in a restaurant would have come to between 50p and £1.
  • A gallon of petrol was about 25p. (That’s a gallon, a bit more than four litres!)
  • A black-and-white television set (9 inch) was about £60-70. (This figure has remained virtually unchanged for 50 years.)
  • A 4-bedroom semi-detached house in the suburbs of London was about £250.

(The Retail Price Index has risen by a factor of about 25 since the mid-fifties. Most of this inflation took place in the Sixties and Seventies.)

 

Miscellaneous

There were virtually no plastics so things now made of plastic would have been made from wood or metal.

Packaging, when it existed, was simple, perhaps a rectangular box. Bread, meat, fruit and vegetables were sold loose or perhaps wrapped in tissue paper.

We knew little of some modern health concerns and Health and Safety was not a major consideration. Substances like mercury, DDT and asbestos, now considered very dangerous, were uses routinely. The same can be said for lead in pipes, paint, toys and petrol. Smoking was common, ubiquitous and accepted.

Here are some of the evils of the modern world, which we did not have in the Fifties.

  • Consumerism and advertising were much less significant. There were no three-for-two or buy-one-get-one-free offers.
  • We had and no junk mail.
  • There was no cold calling on telephones.
  • Utilities – gas, electricity, water, telephones, television – were state controlled and there were no choices of tariffs.
  • Banks and building societies were similar to each other – offering few choices at identical rates.
  • Telephones did not have premium rate calls – but then all non-local calls were difficult, unreliable and expensive.

Trust

Something younger people find hard to understand is that we knew so little of the nastier side of life that we trusted people.

There were no school runs by the parents. Children as young as five walked to school on their own. When we were seven or eight we were sent to the shops at Beehive Lane on our own. Women with babies would leave them in prams outside the shops.

[I know. I said no pictures. I changed my mind.]

We played in the streets or spent the day at Wanstead Park Recreation ground – without mobile phones and without even watches. We came home when it was time for tea.

 

 

I have put in a lot of links but there is a lot more in the blogs including some about Christmas, my family, politics and some miscellaneous odds and ends … and language. I still think the best way to read then is to start at the beginning and work forward.

My last blog … in a week or two … will be about language.

 

The title of this blog comes from the quotation ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well’ from Revelations of Divine Love, the first book in the English Language known to be written (about 1395 AD) by a woman.

We know little about the authoress, Julian of Norwich. Even her name is uncertain. She lived in the second half of the Fourteenth Century as an anchoress in a cell joined to the Church of Saint Julian in Norwich, which is probably the source of her name – although Julian was a common name for women at the time.

 

Acknowledgements

As this is almost my final post I want to acknowledge my sources. Apart from my own memory I have just two sources.

There may be an odd exception but almost all of the background information and most of the pictures come from Wikipedia.

The rest of the pictures – apart from a few of mine – come from Facebook, generally from the rapidly growing number of groups devoted to nostalgia about the Fifties and Sixties.

 


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[88] Christmas Comes but Once a Year

I am going to do a mixed post, partly about Christmas but also a reflection of a year of blogging. It’s more or less a year since I started.

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Christmas

I have done some memories of Christmas in [7] Christmas Preparations, [8] Christmas Day, [9] Christmas Carols and [10] Christmas Traditions. The first two are general memories of the festive season – when cooking a full Christmas dinner was a much more significant task than today. You may find more about our primitive kitchens and cooking in [68] Cooking with Gas and [76] Cooking Part 2

You will know how much Music can bring back memories – especially if you have read [26] Music (1), [32] Music (2) and [34] Music (3), which list my favourite musical memories, so you will understand why Christmas Carols concentrates on the carols we sing at Christmas. We still start our family Christmas family by listening to the carols from Kings College Chapel, Cambridge as we drive to visit relatives.

The last Christmas Blog is more of personal blog, concentrating on our family traditions. Even before Christmas proper we now always have to see the film It’s a Wonderful Life, although I suspect that this tradition may have started later than the sixties. (The film is much earlier.)

I could now add Miracle on 34th Street and many of the familiar Christmas pop songs. Rocking around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee was an old favourite.

As early as [3] The Church I wrote about the part that religion, particularly the Church of England, has played in my life, and of course this comes to the fore at Christmas. The series about St Andrew’s, only just starting with [81], will show other close connections with the Church that are gradually disappearing. It’s hard to explain but I like the words of hymns, Christmas carols and Bible readings partly because of the archaic language which we no longer have. Younger readers may not understand why it used to play such a dominant part in our lives. [15] Highlands School (1) and [16] Highlands School (2) in much the same way show the part religion used to play in schools.

Review

[21] Review and [50] Half a Century looked backwards and forwards about this blog and I feel much the same now as I did when writing them. I would like suggestions from readers about possible topics but don’t seem to get them. Comments are always appreciated, preferably on the blog rather than Facebook. (When I post a link on Facebook with a picture I get many comments about the picture, generally points in the blog, which the Facebook viewers have not read.)

From the WordPress site and its apps I see the statistics about this blog and so far I’m up to 15000 hits. I put in lots of Tags and so some of these hits come from searches. It can be quite amusing to find what people look for.

What people see in Facebook is not predictable but posting on Saturday seems to get the most views. Very few actually follow the blog so I share each new post on several Facebook groups about the fifties and sixties. Most are now getting two to three hundred hits. The few comments I get have all been very positive. (I have been amazed at the spam comments. So far I have about 350 genuine comments, of which about half are my own internal cross-references. But over 800 spam comments have been automatically removed for me.)

I can still see at least another twenty topics that I am working on and expect to keep going at one a week for a few more months. After [69] Elizabeth Martha about my grandmother you can expect some more personal memories about Mum and Dad; there are several about St Andrews to come; and I have basic subjects not even started!

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The Gospel of Saint John

I will end with the first words of this book of the Bible that somehow remind me always of Christmas. They are part of the traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, where they form the last of nine ‘lessons’ (readings from the Bible). It’s the part I like best.

It’s a very philosophical (or theological?) passage and I can’t claim to know what it means. Perhaps it’s meant to be mysterious rather than literal. (The Church has argued for centuries about the precise definition of the Trinity of God.)

Here, firstly, is modern version, from a New Testament by J B Phillips:

At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning. All creation took place through him, and none took place without him. In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.

A man called John was sent by God as a witness to the light, so that any man who heard his testimony might believe in the light. This man was not himself the light: he was sent simply as a personal witness to that light.

That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He came into the world – the world he had created – and the world failed to recognise him. He came into his own creation, and his own people would not accept him. Yet wherever men did accept him he gave them the power to become sons of God. These were the men who truly believed in him, and their birth depended not on the course of nature nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God.

So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father’s only son), full of grace and truth.

I can’t see this as either meaningful or mysterious.

Here is what I think of as the original version, the original Authorized Version (also known as the King James Version.) Perhaps the meaning is even less clear but the language is so much better.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.

He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.

That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

You may take this passage how you like and you may draw your own conclusions about why I put it here. Perhaps it’s just because it reminds me of Christmas when I was younger.

To me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it.


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[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.

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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.

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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.

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Illustrations

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.

Attitudes

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.

Shopping

[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.

Homes

[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.

Christmas

[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.

Technology

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.)

Music

[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.

Education

[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.

Personal

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

Disclaimers

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 …


3 Comments

[21] ‘I’m Reviewing the Situation’

fagin

I have enjoyed doing my blog but, after my first twenty postings, the time has come for some reflection on progress so far. I could have done a series of FAQs but no one has actually asked me anything about it, so I will stick to a soliloquy of questions and answers. [FAQ: There’s an expression you would not have seen in 1950!]

Why did you start doing it?

I always like having something to do and I like writing. It’s something I can do easily.

We often say that our parents and grandparents would not recognize life today because of the increasing pace of technological change. I thought the other way: children of today would not recognize how we managed to live even a generation ago.

Just before the Millennium, I put down lots of my thoughts about changes in the last fifty years, while I could still remember them. I wanted to be able to pass on my knowledge. There was no way then that I could do anything with what I had written.

Recently, I became more aware of blogs. (I had written a couple of travel blogs when I went on two long cruises.) Then I thought that perhaps the medium of blogs would be a suitable outlet for my old notes – I could issue them in blog form.

How did you start?

It was obvious that my 15 000 words about the fifties were not in a blog style. It was more of an embryonic textbook. So I had to just start writing again. I used the information in my old notes but added to them considerably. I decided to add some history both before and after the fifties, to put things into perspective (and to use up a few more words).

I tried a couple of posts to see if it would work.

After twenty blog posts, and about 30 000 words, I probably still have 14 000 words of old notes to be used and expanded. (You have been warned!)

How do you pick your subjects?

My intended style is to blog in a rambling format, as if I was just picking random thoughts. At first, I was torn between a totally random approach and some attempted introduction. I just started and put a few introductory thoughts in the first few posts. I am deliberately mixing up threads so that, for example, Transport does not all come together. In some cases, I have taken a two-part subject and put something else in the middle.

Sometimes I pick something from my old notes and try to expand it. Sometimes I think of something else and start writing. (The ones about Football Pools and Birds were completely new material.)

Do you have an overall plan?

No, I did not have a plan at the start and I don’t want one. My plan is not to have a plan. I have to micro-plan because, by nature, I like to be over-prepared, I always have the next two or three (or four or five) posts completed in advance. I started by issuing one every two days and am now trying to move to about two a week. They may get less frequent – but I think at least one a week is essential.

I have to have 1000 words on a topic before I can accept it as suitable. As they get larger, I may split topics. If it turns out to be three posts, I have to have all three ready before considering posting the first one.

What is the format and style of each post?

All I really thought when I started was that it should be colloquial, chatty, almost completely rambling, and at least 1000 words. I have developed into a sort of continuing style, generally between 1000 and 1500 words (sometimes a little over 1500). I accept that I may duplicate what I say sometimes.

I stick to proper but informal (English) English. (I put in dashes and brackets deliberately, and make chatty references to previous posts.) Once the post is finished, I may visit it once or twice but I avoid trying to make it a literary classic. I am interested in linguistics and very aware of American differences. Because my early posts had many international viewers, especially from the USA, I annotate the US versions of vocabulary and usage when I can.

I have to have pictures and I aim at two or three (sometimes more) for each post. Some come from Wikipedia or other free web sources; some are my own; and when I’m desperate I use some cartoon-like pictures from a CD I have of clip art.

And I have drifted into the format of cryptic and literary titles. I try not to give away too much in the first paragraph to encourage people to go beyond the entry in Facebook!

How accurate is it all?

I don’t like saying this – but sometimes I may get it wrong. (Only sometimes!) Partly, it’s because I don’t remember everything, but more often I remember things without remembering accurately the dates they happened. Relatives and friends sometimes seem to remember it differently in minor details – they are probably right some of the time. I do try to check historical details – and Wikipedia is my constant companion.

Has it been easy?

Yes, it has been much easier than I thought. The first one was slow and difficult, while I worked out my style, but I soon got into it. In a way, it gets easier with every post, but I am already wondering how much material I have for the future.

What has been most difficult?

Finding an audience – because I don’t actually know who reads my posts. WordPress make it easy for me to notify all my Facebook friends and followers on Twitter when a new blog comes out. They provide statistics but, with no details. It’s hard to distinguish ten people from one person looking ten times. I think I have two or three very loyal relatives who pick up the Facebook notice every time (and some who consistently ignore it). My 1000 twitter followers are largely unimpressed.

I have found some groups and communities on Facebook, which allow me to extend the notice to others who share a common interest – Ilford in the sixties, Highlands (my Primary School) and St Andrews (where I went to church). Some views must come from them but I have no way of knowing. (Somehow I have been read in a dozen countries.)

When people either ‘Like’ or comment on Facebook, I assume they must have read at least some of the blog.

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How do you find WordPress?

Battling with WordPress has been quite difficult. It’s a useful site but its ‘Themes’ are incomprehensible. It has ‘Widgets,’ ‘Posts,’ ‘Pages and ‘Projects,’ without clearly explaining what they all are. I have experimented a bit and tried a few themes. I may change themes again once or twice. Site access on a laptop or via the WordPress app is useful but far from user friendly. Stats are useful but incomplete (and frequently change in random ways!)

How many blogs do you intend to do?

I can’t answer that. I look avidly at the stats that WordPress provide for me. Every time I issue a post, I hope for lots of views. Sometimes I ask myself: “If the number of readers drops, would I stop doing it?” and the answer usually is: “Probably not.”

I have enough material for at least another twenty posts, probably lots more. It would be nice to keep going for at least a year – but I may make them less frequent. (At the time of writing, I have four completed, one in outline, and two other topics lined up.)

How can readers provide useful feedback?

This is my ulterior motive [and a test of whether I actually have anyone who reads to the end!] Ideally I would like people to use the ‘Follow’ process on WordPress, and it would be nice to have comments actually on the WordPress posts (which can be done anonymously). If you like what you see, please share on Facebook or retweet on Twitter.

If you have any comments or positive criticism, please let me know – on WordPress or Facebook or Twitter. Also let me have suggestions for topics of future blog posts.

Maybe your suggestion will appear next …