I am sitting here at the computer looking out of the window and to put it in simple words it’s pouring with rain. Currently this neck of the woods has a drought order and hosepipe ban. The local view is that it’s the wettest drought in history.
But in ten years time say when we look back will we remember this summer for the rain and the cold days or will we just remember the good bits?
It’s the same when we remember what we fondly refer to as “The Good Old Days”. We have all heard this expression, when people remember back to when they were young and growing up. They always remember the good bits.
Take my mother for example, at the ripe old age of 84 it’s not surprising that when I talk to her she remembers these good old days.
She remembers fondly the first house she and my father had. What she conveniently forgets is things like my father bringing in the coal to light the fire in the morning to heat the water in the back boiler so we could have warmth in the house. Not to mention the fact that we were not what you would call well off.
She forgets the 30 minute walk to the nearest decent grocers and the task of humping home the shopping or the 10 minute walk to the nearest bus stop and the fact that there was a bus every 30 minutes into Birmingham or Solihull and nothing at all on Sundays.
She forgets the winter mornings when we got up and there was ice on the inside of the bedroom windows. All she remembers or to be more accurate chooses to remember are the sunny days when all was well with the world.
Now I am convinced this selective memory affects all of us except for one period of our lives and that’s the period of our school education. Almost everybody I know remembers vividly the bad bits of school, such as the terrible school dinners, the bad teachers, the bullies etc.
I have no experience of school dinners, I lived close enough to the three schools I went to that I could walk home for lunch. So all I can remember is that when I returned to school after having lunch at home I was greeted by the smell of pies, green vegetables and custard that seemed to seep through every crack of the dining room doors. It never made me want school dinners that much I remember.
What I do remember is one especially cold winter when we walked through three feet of snow to get to school, and it did not bother us we just did it. These days if we have two inches schools are closed and the road network grinds to a halt. I can remember walking past the local shop on the way home and the bottles of pop in the stand outside were frozen solid and had burst out of the tops of the bottles like frozen coloured fountains.
Come hail rain snow or shine mum and I on a Friday night used to go and get fish and chips for tea from the local chip shop, that was a twenty minute walk both ways, and on the way back as a treat we always used to have a fish cake each to eat hot, always welcome on cold wet dismal nights. Funny how I remember eating them and remember holding the paper wrapping pealed back so we could bite them. Just out of interest I can’t stand fish cakes these days.
If we wanted to telephone somebody we had a five minute walk to the nearest telephone box, phones in house were not that common and were expensive. There was often a queue at the box when we got there. Youngsters today don’t know they are born with there in pocket communication rocket, commonly known as a cell phone. In those days you carried change with you everywhere just in case you had to use a phone. Plus of course you hoped it had not been vandalised and that the local youth had not thrown up their curry and beer up the inside walls of the phone box on the way home from the pub the previous night.
I remember like it was yesterday when we had our first phone in the house, we all wanted to use it but had great difficulty in actually remembering anybody we knew that had a phone who we could call. Then we had to ring directory enquiries to get their number. You could actually hear the operator turning the pages of their directories to find the number, no computerised lists in those days.
These days we send our friends or more likely people we know a text or an email. The youngsters of today are losing the art of communication, their comprehension of the spoken English is sadly lacking, they just can’t express themselves in words. I can remember a couple of years ago seeing a boy and girl sitting next to each other on the bus both with blurred fingers as they sent text message after text message. Then it dawned on me they were sending them to each other, instead of looking at each other and speaking they were both looking at screens and sending digital messages to each other. That I will admit I found sad, if they can’t communicate verbally their thoughts needs and feelings how in heavens name can they have a meaningful lasting relationship? Assuming of course they want one.
So next time your sitting thinking back to the good old days take a moment to remember the bad bits that have since got better, but also remember the good bits that have since got bad.