Do you remember when you used to get excited about the simplest of things – like a Tip-Top, or if you were lucky enough to get the cherry in the tinned fruit you had on a Sunday? Remember how stupidly excited you got when your mom had really splashed out, and you were treated to a slice of vanilla ice cream with two wafters slapped around it. If you were really, really lucky it might even have been Neapolitan ice cream – the nearest thing we had to foreign or exotic food in our house. It was all the way from Italy as far as we knew.
Do you remember when trips to McDonalds and fizzy pop were saved for special occasions, like Christmas or Birthdays? There was none of this posh nosh that’s around today. When I was growing up you had your meat and two veg, and a salad was a salad. A salad did not have fancy beans, a blend of fennel or smoked salmon – it was lettuce, tomato, a slice of ham and a handful of crisps, just to give it that extra bit of pizazz ! And what happened to condiments? In our house you had one sauce and it was either red or brown. I didn’t taste mayonnaise until I was 17 years old.
I’m not saying that we had a better childhood than the kids of today, but it did seem so much more innocent and carefree back then. It was fun being young, and enjoying times with friends over the park was more important than how far you could get on certain computer game. You didn’t need a computer or a posh phone, all you needed was your imagination and a watch that could stop working when you were due home. We did have our own anxieties and fears though. Remember when you used to fear your parents, your teachers and the Nit Nurse, or ‘Nitty Nora – the head explorer’ as we liked to call her? The lice assassin had the power to completely humiliate you in the flick of a hair and a scratch of the head.
Remember when you looked up to your elders and took their advice. My nan’s sentences were littered with colourful expressions and words of advice I still use today. I always remember her telling me to ‘Keep your hand on your ha’penny’. This wasn’t her imparting financial advice, but it’s a euphemism, meaning don’t be a slapper. Maybe if people took my nan’s advice today Jeremy Kyle wouldn’t have to do so many DNA tests. In fact, when I was growing up people would’ve been mortified to tell strangers their problems – people hid their dirty laundry and didn’t hang it out for everyone to see.
Do you remember when you’d do anything to not be a nerd? Boys wouldn’t be seen dead in pumps or drainpipe jeans, as we used to call them. Back in my day there was nothing cool about wearing Deirdre Barlow NHS glasses or having big uncontrollable hair, and we certainty didn’t advertise it on a T-shirt. No, we all wanted to be cool, and if you were a real nerd people could spot it a mile away and they sure wouldn’t let you forget it for the rest of your school life.
Remember when playing was scrumping for apples, British Bulldog, rounders, ‘punch car – No return’, sledging on gardens that sometimes didn’t even have any snow? I certainly didn’t have one of those posh sledges – the nearest I got to one was a tray I pinched out our kitchen, and it always had to be back before my mom cooked tea. Remember life before mobile phones, when entire families shared one phone? How on Earth did we communicate and how on Earth did we survive without the cotton wool we wrap our kids in today? All I can remember are fun times playing up my own end until it got dark- all I can remember are happy days.