The good old bad days

Do you think medical science will ever get around to discovering a pill to recover the short-term memory of us old timers? I can tell you the name of a greengrocers last seen sixty years ago (Charltons, in London E5), but haven't the faintest idea who spoke to me in the park the other afternoon.

It was a lady, I recall, and she told me with great pride: "He's walking now, you know." Well, I didn't know, but the problem is that I've been racking my brains ever since trying to remember who told me and whose baby was she talking about.

It can get even more embarrassing. We met the friend of a friend at an exhibition recently and I asked him: "How are you, Mike?" He looked a bit put out and said "It's Nick, actually." He must have thought I've gone barmy when I apologised by telling him: "Sorry, Phil, Ellen said your name wasn't Mick." See what I mean?

Mind you, it can be a delight to recall the way life was all those years ago, though the weather people reckon memory must play tricks on us because we ignore statistics and insist summers in the old days were always dry and sunny.

My sister Jean has been visiting from America and we thought it would be a good idea to buy fish and chips for supper on the first day. They don't go in much for our national dish in the USA. She was astonished to discover cod and chips now cost £2.40p. When we were growing up it was 4d (2p) - so the price has rocketed 120 times in our lifetime.

Talking about those days, we thought the biggest change has been in the way children grow up. We were outdoors at every opportunity. The boys would be making mischief with street games like Knock Down Ginger and the girls fussing with their dolls or skipping endlessly while chanting ancient rhymes. Salt, vinegar, pepper...

Today the evocative sound of children playing in the street has all but disappeared. Youngsters seem to prefer to sit glued to television screens zapping aliens in aggressive electronic games. This must be some kind of prelude to more sophisticated pursuits on computer screens. It might feed their young brains, but it doesn't do much for their physical fitness.

At least they are taking to the streets with the latest craze on both sides of the Atlantic for engineered metal scooters. That's a good sign, though I doubt they get as much fun as we did making our own scooters. A couple of planks of wood, one meat skewer and a pair of ball-bearing wheels pirated from roller skates and we were set to conquer the world.

Ah, the good old bad days! We didn't have two ha'pennies for a penny, but we knew how to make the most of life and were never short of a laugh.

Back soon with more passing thoughts - I promise not to forget!

Copyright © 2000 Derek Jameson / Retirement Matters Ltd . All rights reserved