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WHY IT'S FUN TO BE IN
ONE'S SIXTIES IN BRITAIN
- We were born about the time of the creation of the welfare state including the National Health Service, prescription medicines were free, and illnesses like polio and tuberculosis were virtually eliminated. Wartime rationing was phased out. Britain introduced the world's first jet airliner, the Comet (OK, it fell out of the sky three times, but it was a technological marvel).
- When we were kids, it was safe to play in the streets and we were encouraged to do so. We ate something called sherbet dips and liquorice in all sorts of strange shapes and our sweet cigarettes came with free cards for collections of sporting heroes or whatever. We had "Listen With Mother" and "Uncle Mac" on the radio and "Andy Pandy" and "The Flower Pot Men" on television, and there were comics called "Beano" and "Dandy" with characters like the Bash Street Kids and Roger the Dodger. A British expedition was the first to conquer Mount Everest and a British athlete - another Roger - was the first to run a four-minute mile.
- When we went to school, we had ink pots and free milk, we played with marbles and conkers, and we could go home early when we had November fog. When we came home, we could watch Valerie Singleton on "Blue Peter". When we went to the cinema, we had new fads like 3D and Cinerama. When we left school, we could read and write. We had the biggest craze in history - the hula hoop.
- When we were teenagers, we had the Beatles and the Stones, transistor radios and pirate stations, "Dr Who" and "The Avengers" on television, James Bond films (with Sean Connery as 007) at the cinema, England beat Germany to win the World Cup, and man went into space and landed on the moon. Depending on gender, we wore flared trousers and mini skirts, kaftans and flowers.
- By the time we reached our late teens, they had long since abolished National Service and we were the first generation in the 20th century not to have known a world war. The voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 in time for some of us to benefit. We had spaghetti westerns and much more violent films than today (such as "Clockwork Orange" and "Straw Dogs"). The Anglo-French Concorde became the first (and last?) supersonic airliner in history.
- If we were fortunate enough to go to university, we were probably the first of our family to do so, we had grants and occupations, and there were things worth protesting about like the war in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa. When we graduated, there were jobs for us to go to.
- When we became parents, we could both attend the birth, we had washing machines and disposable nappies, and it was acceptable to take children into restaurants and on foreign holidays. "Harry Potter" hadn't been invented, but we had the "Mr Men" books. We could take the kids to see the first three "Star Wars" movies and pretend that we were only there to keep them company.
- In our 30s, we had a decade of Thatcherism, so we got richer while the poor got poorer and we consoled ourselves by pleading: "Don't blame me, I voted Labour". AIDS became a problem, but we were too old and too tired for it to affect us. We had television series called "Charlie's Angels" and "Mission: Impossible" and never dreamt that they would become blockbuster movies.
- In our 40s, we witnessed the end of the Cold War, an easing of the threat of nuclear war, the revolutions in Central & Eastern Europe, and the collapse of apartheid in South Africa. Our children became taller than us and we took it for granted that they would go to university.
- In our 50s, we had a decade of Labour Governments and record expenditure on the health service. We celebrated a millennium. Our children got jobs, bought property and were married and we were so proud of them.
- Now we are in our 60s, many of us can enjoy final salary pension schemes, something previous generations did not have and later generations will not have. We are generally fitter and wealthier than our parents were at this age and there are developments in medical science that make it likely we will live longer than them. Now that so many children live on junk food and fizzy drinks and take no exercise, we are slimmer and fitter than many of them. We have access to lifelong learning programmes and cheap international travel. Women are more accepted as equal and ethnic minorities are more accepted as enriching cultural diversity. As the 'grey panthers' become the 'silver surfers', we have access to, and can afford, all the marvels of modern technology - wide screen television, digital radio, the DVD player, mobiles, the Internet - even if we have to ask our children or grandchildren how to use them. We can enjoy the sunnier climes brought about by global warming, but we'll probably be dead by the time widespread flooding and famine arrives. And, very best of all, some of us - like me - now have a grandchild on whom to dote.
Last modified on 25 June 2013
If you have some recollections of your own e-mail me
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