I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Do you prefer rose-tinted?

For me there were no golden eras, just dubious memories darkened by conveniently forgotten reality. In those days I was worse informed, worse fed, usually colder, more parochial, more obviously a victim of "things".

Light bulbs popped quicker.

Time wasted buying basics.

Intermittent hot water.

No sliced bread (nor the twenty varieties Tesco offers routinely).

No distant places.

No fridges or freezers (just a delusional "pantry" theory),

Thicker, more inaccessible tins.

Cars that needed perpetual cossetting.

A cash only society.

Compulsory military service.

Unassailable authority.

Shorter lives.

If you've lasted this long, as I have, look around, do an honest balance sheet and conclude one would wouldn't have the fifties back at any price.

You're either touched by this or you've bogged down on Optick:

I gave to Hope, a Watch of mine but he
An Anchor gave to me.
Then a old Prayer-book I did present:
And he an Optick sent.

With that I gave a Phial full of tears:
But he a few green ears.
Ah, loiterer! I'll no more, no more I'll bring:
I did expect a Ring.

Reason why. The last line, what else?

George Herbert (1593 - 1633)


  1. Here is my rose-tinted version.

    The overriding ingredient in most of the items is that they were of our own making with only vestigial adult supervision or instigation, influenced partly for me by a reasonably literary and liberal, albeit somewhat unhappy family background.

    HEALTH AND SAFETY DID NOT EXIST - thank goodness, and we were hardly ever told what to do - we made it up for ourselves.

    Climbing trees

    Bike riding, repairing and crashing

    Being in The Scouts - learning how to lead a team

    Going to Ilkley on the bus to rock climb

    Discovering jazz

    Browsing in the cathedral-like Bradford public library, and reading many books

    Ernest, but unknowingly naive discussions on literature with contemporaries

    Being in love with the girl who lived next door to my pal, (that culminated in one visit to the cinema).

    Drinking beer in pubs underage

    Building and flying model aeroplanes

    Making explosives

    That's enough for the mo.

    Sent from my iPad

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Find where Sir Hugh buys his eye-wear and get yourself there pronto! I have no idea what "time wasted buying basics" means. Bread difficult to slice, cash only, troublesome tins. Perhaps this, your era of great convenience, seems more gilded. The unassailable authority here is busily banning incandescent bulbs and forcing us to recycle tins which are impossible to clean due to ever more complex rim geometry. People have found new ways to cosset their now dependable vehicles, and I was born in the fifties so would prefer to retain at least that one day. The fishing days too, come to think of it.
    Optiks was instantly clear to me, but now that I've seen it capitalized I have doubts. "Ring", also oddly capped, must mean marriage/eternity? Hope, Anchor, Watch...all capitalized? What gives here? Oh...and I'm halfway through a movie called "Jayne Mansfields Car"...some English people visit the U.S. in '69. Highly entertaining. Seen it?

  3. Sir Hugh: The following items are not related to any specific period (or even to your youthful years), you could do them now: Climbing trees. bike riding/repairing/crashing, browsing in library, naive discussions about books, building/flying model planes, making explosives.

    The following were time-related but could have happened at any time in your life: going to Ilkley on bus to climb, discovering jazz, being in love, etc.

    The following is time specific: under-age drinking.

    The following is an anomaly since it seems at odds with your anti-authoritarian celebration of the pre-regulated, pre-HSW years: joining a hierarchical organisation to boss about those (presumably) younger than yourself - ie, the Scouts. Even if we take your phrase "learning to lead a team" at face value, it sits uneasily with underage drinking.

    I didn't actually define what actually constitutes a Golden Era so you are entitled to say (in effect) you were happier when you were young, mildly anarchic and - by your own admission - naive. In fact your allusion to the"overriding ingredient" (that these items were of your own making with only vestigial adult supervision and instigation) could equally define the life you presently lead as an adult. I wonder if a more precise summary might have been: I was happiest when I was at my most existential.

    However you might have been guided by the fact that my state of mind ("In those days...") was a direct product of the fifties and that the cannonball list was a series of generalised deprivations and impositions which many people, over a wide age range, would recognise.

    I'm surprised you didn't pick out the biggest flaw in the post - not many people (yourself excluded, of course) would have picked the fifties as a Golden Era.

    MikeM: "Time wasted buying basics" is very nearly an equation. No fridges = daily grocery shopping = separate visits to butchers, bakeries, greengrocers, etc = queues forming as products are individually priced and weighed.

    So you're pro-incandescent bulbs, are you? A fine body of men willing to die for a noble cause.

    Complex rim geometry. Stick around long enough and MikeM will serve up an unreturnable ace. Game, set and match, pal. I confess you had me blindsided.

    The decade you were born. OK, I give in. I withdraw my Ban The Fifties Campaign. You're too valuable to lose.

    Fishing days? You mean Fridays?

    The poem. They were a bit erratic with their capital letters in those day. Sometimes they seemed to suggest emphasis. Here I think they flag words used as symbols. The killer is "a" where it should have been "an".

    Haven't seen the movie but it wouldn't be revelatory for me. I was living in the US that year; coulda tole 'em a thing or two.

  4. Refrigeration must have been laggy in England in the 50's...I'm pretty sure were were running amok with CFC's in the USA by then. Jayne Mansfield's Car...John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton Frances O'Conner(!). I'd put that on the bucket list if I were you. Fishing in the 50's was for Brook Trout (our natives) with my dad. Tiny streams in the hills, worms for bait using a bamboo fly rod.

  5. You have me thinking about the '50s RR. Some of it was OK, because youth and good health were/are OK.

    But, upon reflection, we seemed to spend a lot of time then hanging around - waiting for buses, waiting to be served, waiting for replies to letters and waiting for life to happen. All this has become much easier and convenient in this digital age.

    A pity, though, that youthful virility does not survive to complement the acquired wisdom of age.

  6. Despite an early-fifties secondary education (after which, I believe, subsequent generations have been taught progressively less about less), I never got into poetry. But I think I understand this one, thanks to your nudge at the last line.

    He didn’t call her, as hoped, right?

  7. Avus: Youth (for you and me) was coincidental to the fifties, we should have enjoyed it. I was trying to isolate the essence of that period. Which you have added to magnificently - I mentioned time wasted in shopping, but you have pinned it down with a much more precise word: waiting. You're right, we waited a lot. And people may say that we might have used all that waiting more fruitfully, but the very act of waiting tends to prevent this happening. The suspense often holds away intelligent thought.

    FigMince: Just in case you've missed the background to Joe's Nudge, the source book is The Poet's Tongue (Auden is the co-compiler) and the poems are laid out in some arcane sequence without the poet's name adjacent. You have to look them up in an index of first lines.

    This is intentional. You judge the poem without preconceptions and then find out - as I did a couple of posts back - that the poet is famous, Dryden in my instance. So I went back and checked what I'd said; couldn't fault it.

    As to my acting as supreme arbiter, it's almost a case of the blind leading the blind. I sound to have had about the same level of instruction as you received. For decades I too "never got into poetry". Three or four years ago I started writing Shakespearean sonnets but otherwise I'm trying to wing it on the bird of common-sense. Inevitably a tone of spurious authority is creeping in.

    And yes, you're right. Her gifts hinted but his responses suggested he wasn't taking the hints. In fact rejecting them. These days we might say "he lacked commitment" but luckily those who care have access to other less arid options.

  8. Yes, RR, I was aware of all that, reading your posts as I do every time there’s a new one. I try not to comment online anywhere anymore, unless I’m overcome by the urge to make one of my invariably puerile jokes. On this occasion I was playing with the last line: “I did expect a Ring.”, and equating it to today’s oft-quoted après one-night stand complaints: “He didn’t call me.”.

  9. FigMince: Puerile jokes? There are only good and bad jokes. You've made me laugh before - don't go all neo-colonial timid on me now.