In the old days we cooked real food and made our own entertainment


Do some people in their sixties plus go all starry-eyed when harking back to the days before the microwave and streamed entertainment?

When we were young, we played cards,” they moan.

So giving your kid a regular gambling fix is better than subliminal history via Vikings and The Tudors or world class fantasy literature of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings?

The family stuck together and entertained each other,” they pontificate, sniffing at Netflix, Amazon, Sky, etc...

Which is why in some remote regions your husband, your brother, your cousin and your uncle were all the same people,” I reply. This is even an argument to allow easy access of porn to occupy Uncle Ernie rather than him insisting on a game of doctors and nurses with his niece and nephew.

However, I do accept that building a tree house, riding a bike without a helmet, a game of conkers or walking unaccompanied to school did generate a dollop of risk. No one I grew up with got away without a broken limb... if not two. 

And we had such innovative games. So much more involving than just a video screen.” True but...

I remember being given an Atomic Energy Lab from a toy company called Gilbert that had a small sample of polonium and uranium! At seven I had fuel driven planes whose propellers regularly tried to sever my fingertips, steam engine trains with boilers heated by methylated spirits (so you were stoned before your fingers got third degree burns) all jumbled up with catapults and a wicked gun called a Johnny 7. This little darling had seven different missile firing guns each capable or poking out an eye or pissing off the next door neighbour’s cat.

I never wore a seatbelt and quite often steered the car sitting on my father’s lap. (Please note we never had an accident... we saw dozens).

...and another thing


In my day children ate what they were given. No Big Macs or KFC. Real home cooked food.” Really?

The list of absolute crap I was fed is longer than the list of e additives that were left off the tin.

We make a huge fuss over the ingredients in food today and rightly so but let me make your mouth water with some of the gloop I was fed.

Let’s start the day with Kellogg’s Rise and Shine. Advertised as orange juice without the pips. It was a white sugary mix to which you added (tap) water. The closest it came to a real fresh orange was with the one photographed on the packet.

Cereal in our family was always sugar frosted and came with a huge dollop of double cream on top of the milk. To counter the calorie count we had Nimble bread that had a shelf life of a decade and the consistency of foam rubber (which tasted better).

The eggs had a Lion stencilled on the shell, but the chickens that laid them never saw the light of day and were fed meal including bits of fellow chickens. Yup, battery hens were turned into cannibals!

Everyone ate sweets at midday. Space Dust made your month froth as if you had rabies or you sucked on a gobstopper; a sugar globe the size of a ping pong ball which if you accidentally swallowed would choke you.

Lunch if you were lucky was a curry from Vesta, a company which sold packets of dried sawdust masquerading as food and whose meat (once you added water to the powder) were perfect squares of reconstituted gristle.

Desert was Angel Delight. Again a sugary dust whose only connection with Angels was if you ate enough of them, you would soon be talking to them.

The real tour de force was dinner. Pah, your McDonalds or KFC which

at least comes from a recognisable part of an animal… anyone remember Birds’ Eye Faggots? I lived in fear they came from eyelids, lips and hooves! Or Smash. Reconstituted mashed potato from what looked like yellow chalk! At least the vegetables were fresh… but boiled long enough to have all the nutrition of a bus drivers sock!

...and another thing

Spectator sport.

In my day you could actually get close and see the action.”

Well yes. I remember going to the RAC Rally in Wales where spectators idea of fun was patting the cars as the drifted round the corners at 90 MPH.

Football stadiums crowded you into pens they called stands where unless your Dad heaved you onto his shoulders you spent the entire match playing hide and seek with other kids around adults legs as you could see nothing of the game!

But my favourite at school was archery. In order to encourage your friends, you would all group around the target willing the lethal arrow to hit the bulls-eye and praying it did not hit you.

Madness all round. Frankly sixty year olds should be grateful they got to their teens!

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