Every now and then Mike and I will take a walk down memory lane prompted by the words ‘Do you remember… ?’, which inevitably ends up with at least one child questioning what on earth we are talking about.
Attempts to describe often prove futile and end up with us searching Google images for a visual explanation. Said child is then joined by siblings in determining that we are officially ‘so old!’ (as opposed to just ‘old’), as they can’t possibly fathom life with – or without – the things we reminisce about.
So, which of these do you remember?
How long did you spend having to wind and rewind the tape back into the centre after it became caught in the player’s mechanism and unwound? As if it didn’t take long enough to try and prise it away without damaging it further, you then had to hunt for a pencil in order to wind it up again. Actually, come to think of it, that is probably the reason why my parents kept a pencil pot by the hi-fi. Ah… now I get it!
Do they call them that any more? Do they even exist any more? We had a long, horizontal one with a brown, perspex lid that folded down. It had one tape deck, an FM/AM radio across the front and the record player and it played The Magic Flute Smurf perfectly. The epitome of cool indeed.
Trying to describe these to the kids is difficult. ‘It’s a round, black thing with a bit of card in the middle that you put on a turntable, you know, like a potter’s wheel, and you put a stick thing on it that has a small, metal thing on it, and that metal thing scrapes along the round black thing as the turntable wheel turns around and then it plays the music just like a CD does but less clear and with a swooshing sound in the background…’ Oh, and when you played The Magic Flute Smurf at 78rpm instead of 45rpm it sounded even better. Well, I was three…
TVs with no remote controls
Many homes nowadays might have a top-of-the-range Panasonic TV in most rooms, but when we were younger families only had one television in the living room and that was it. Not only that, you actually had to get up, walk across the room and change the channel yourself. They didn’t have remote controls and, even when they were first introduced, they were attached to the TV by a wire. Not very remote.
Three television channels
Not only did we have to get up to change the channel, we only had a choice of three of them: BBC 1, BBC2 and ITV. And there were only programmes on at certain parts of the day. The rest of the time you had the ‘snow’ or the test card to look at.
One telephone for the entire household
Phones were still a pretty new addition for homes when I was very young. Quite a few people I went to primary school with still didn’t have a phone and, if your home was lucky enough to own one, it stood in the hallway. There was one phone for everyone in the household. It wasn’t mobile, you couldn’t walk around with it because the cord wasn’t long enough and you had to turn the rotary dial to call someone. It was also loud. Very loud. And it couldn’t take photos, write messages or tell you how the weather in Bali was at this very second in time. You could make calls and receive them. And that was it.
Actually, there weren’t really any computers either – not when I was very young at least. It was quite a memorable moment when my school introduced Calculator Club on Tuesday afternoons, in fact.
Health & safety-less playgrounds
That’s not to say that they were dangerous (although in hindsight, they very probably might have been), but it wasn’t unusual for someone to have knocked up the tallest slides and climbing frames with nothing but odd bits of wood and some nails and call it a playground. The colour palettes were often more concerning than the rickety, finished products themselves. Why were they always the most garish mixture of greens, blues, pinks and purples?
Cars without seat belts
Undoubtedly an extremely important and necessary development in the last few decades, but one that was completely unheard of when we were younger. To begin with if your family did own a car you only owned one. Two-car families simply did not exist. Where we spend a good ten minutes or so ensuring everyone is belted in properly before we set off, our parents used to wait until we were seated – the back, the front or even in the boot – and they’d drive. Seven-seater vehicles existed long before MPVs became popular – except they were ordinary five-seater cars in which the passengers would squish up and/or sit on each other’s laps. And nobody batted an eyelid.
Two films at the cinema
I think it is horrendously expensive to visit the cinema these days. As if it isn’t enough to be charged over the odds to sit and watch a film in darkness (I mean, they don’t even need to cover the cost of lighting the place!), you need to take out a second mortgage to even consider buying a refreshment or two from the kiosk. It probably did still cost our parents a fair amount to take us to the cinema (which would explain why it was such a rare treat), but to be fair, back then they used to show two films back-to-back. Remember those?
I have not seen a rag’n’bone man for many years now, but he was a fairly common site around our town when I was very young. I still remember watching his old, grey horse as it passed by slowly, pulling the cart behind as the rag’n’bone man – not very unlike Steptoe – rang his bell and shouted as they meandered by the houses, collecting old wares as they went.
‘What?! You actually had a half a pee?!’
Cait was quite incredulous when we began talking about half pennies.
‘Half a penny, yes.’
‘And you could actually buy sweets with one?!’
‘Half-penny sweets, yes.’
‘You’re so old!’
So that seems to be the consensus from our children.
We are old.
And if you remember any of these, our children will probably consider you to be too.
What else do you remember that your children won’t? Please do leave us a comment and share your memories with us.