So; I was having dinner the other evening with a good friend, and, as she usually does, she asked what seemed like an almost impossible question to answer. I swear she must have a book titled “101 Impossible Dinner Time Questions” and this particular evening she’d chosen #97.
After the traditional pleasantries and small talk she suddenly asked – and I have to paraphrase because I don’t recall her exact words – “Is there anything you miss about the old days?” You see, there’s a big gap between our ages, and so we often talk about my early years, which for reasons of both decade and geographical location, were quite different from hers. I’m the kind of person who almost never looks back, plus, the brain cells need considerable rattling before they will recall anything that happened earlier than yesterday lunchtime, so I can guarantee that answering any of her 101 questions will present a major challenge.
At the time, I couldn’t answer.
I couldn’t think of a single thing that was better fifty or sixty years ago, than it is today.
I mean; do I miss food rationing? Nope. Do I miss going to bed in the dark, carrying a candle to an unheated room, because in the post-war years the UK couldn’t afford the coal needed to generate enough electricity? Nope.
Did I enjoy breathing the pollutant-laden air, that was so thick we called it pea-soup, and at times meant you couldn’t see the end of your own driveway? No, that’s not something to be missed, but I must admit it did add some excitement to a fairly dull existence. The front seat passenger became a guide, since s/he was the only one who could see the edge of the road. Visibility could be so bad that very often you could discover, after you’d gotten out of the car, that you’d turned into your neighbor’s driveway by mistake. Accidents were common, but they happened at about three miles per hour!
Is it possible to miss the almost complete lack of evening entertainment? One radio with three English-language channels. Could anyone miss the lack of variety in foods? Meat and two veg on Sundays, and a mixture of leftovers and other cobbled-together concoctions the other days. Well, now that I think of it – and this isn’t the main reason for my article – I do miss my Mother’s treacle tarts, and I do miss dripping on toast. Although, you could put either one in front of me right now, and I wouldn’t touch it. Sugar-laced, cholesterol-producing foods are not my thing anymore, but they did help to ward-off the effects of cold nights.
For those younger than I, or not well-acquainted with the delights of British “cuisine” (I use the term loosely) a treacle tart is the size of a pizza, with the pastry covered in a liberal layer of golden syrup, and something else – coconut, I think. In my teens I could devour a whole one as dessert! And “dripping” is the fat that, well, drips off a roast of meat as it cooks, is collected, allowed to solidify and can then be spread on bread or toast. Sounds gross. Tastes delicious.
Okay, where was I? Do I miss looking at streets of houses where every fourth one had been bombed into a pile of rubble? Do I miss the slowly grinding dentists drill, the lack of modern medicine, the lack of reliable and efficient transportation, the strict upbringing where a miscalculation of the number of peas you were permitted to add to your fork would bring a swift slap round the ears? Nope to all of the above.
You see, and this is quite understandable, younger people simply don’t appreciate the dramatic improvements in lifestyle that have taken place in the last sixty years, the result of which is that there really isn’t much to miss. That pace of change is accelerating to the point where I have a hard time visualizing how the world will be just ten or even five years from now. It excites me. It makes me wish I could live a hundred more years. The rate of change in modern medicine might even make that possible, although I doubt it.
So; after all the rambling, is there anything of significance I really miss?
Yes. I miss the days when sex wasn’t so in-yer-face! You used to be able to watch a movie or TV drama, and by the clever scripting and innuendo you knew who was doing it, and with whom, and who wasn’t but wanted to. Now, everything is so dumbed-down that you have to watch them doing it, and even though five seconds is enough for you to figure out what’s going on, you have to watch the whole performance. It’s the equivalent of having actors chatting at the dinner table, and after they’ve spoken their lines, you have to watch for another ten minutes while they finish their meal.
Take the TV show “Californication.” The emphasis is definitely not on the “Cali.” “Boss” could have been a fine political drama without the 50% sexual content. Maybe that’s why it was canned. I’ve tried to watch “Game of Thrones” but it might as well be called “Game of Bums and Boobies.” It’s tough to remember the story line, if indeed there is one.
And, it seems like bonking – if I may use that colloquial word – has become a national pastime. Bonk first, ask questions later. Like, “Oh by the way, what’s your name?” Or waking up in a morning and asking the total stranger next to you, “where the hell’s my underpants?” Of course I’m old-fashioned, but I’m not sure that’s wholly because I’ve been conditioned by my past. It’s seems to me the human race, or at least parts of it, is degenerating to the level of the animal kingdom. Animals are expected to bonk without asking questions. I thought humans had become more mature.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against sexual relations between consenting adults, but I would rather hope that those adults had some genuine feelings for each other rather than just treating sex as another bodily function.
And, after those twitterings, I’ll anxiously await impossible question #98.