I often hear people of my age and older saying how hard life was for us when we were young and that today’s young people have it easy. So first of all let me tell you about my life when I was young. I was born during the Second World War so things were a little difficult to say the least. Food and clothes were rationed and we had a ration book we had to use to buy things. My parents had saved enough money to pay a deposit on a new semi detached house. But it was not as you would see one today. In the kitchen there was a Belfast sink and a small gas cooker. A heavy wooden draining board was attached to the sink. My mother washed everything in this sink and used a hand wringer to squeeze the water out of the clothes. There was a washing board for putting clothes on which needed scrubbing. (the washboard later became a musical instrument with Lonnie Donegan’s skiffle group) There was no refrigerator but a larder or pantry with a heavy marble slab in it and on the slab stood a mesh cupboard known as a meat safe. Milk was delivered in bottles which were washed when empty and put outside for the milk man to collect. In the dining cum living room (the front room was only used when we had visitors) there was a coal fired range with two ovens and a hob for boiling things in saucepans. The kettle was put on this hob to boil. We had a radio as well. There were two wooden armchairs and a stool for me. We played card games, dominoes and snakes and ladders of did jigsaws in the winter. My dad grew lots of vegetables. When we went to buy them we took a shopping bag and whatever we bought went straight into the bag. No packing stuff at all. Meat was wrapped in a heavy white paper and handed over to go in the bag. We did not have a car until my dad was in his forties.
So life was hard in many ways but we had lots of freedom to go out and play in the open spaces and in the woods coming home dirty but happy. Young people today do not have that freedom. They do have lots of electronic gadgets and washing for example is done in a much easier way. But is life better? I look at the young ones of today and the pressure put upon them to achieve at whatever cost. Everything is measured, education especially and certain standards have to be reached or else. Then there are the adverts on the TV and all around which keep saying that you need this and that to make your life better and easier and give you happiness. I don’t think they have it easy. They have to make far more choices than I had to and many do not cope with the pressure put on them. They all want the latest designer outfits not because they really want them but because their friends have them. At least we didn’t have that worry. My mother made most of my clothes and her own.
So how do you look back at your past? Was it good or better than what younger people have now? If you are young and reading this, how do you feel about what I have described? I know that when I was teaching, my class could not understand why we did not have a TV.