My 74th Birthday

How appropriate to find the article from the Dalai Lama “The Paradox of Our Age” on Facebook today of all days. When I look back on my own life I find myself agreeing with much of what he states. My family of eight lived in a tiny two bedroom house. No electricity, no hot water, no bath, no garden and the only heat from a coal stove. We had a toilet in the small back yard and the front door opened into the street. Transport was trams (street cars) and the city lighting was gas lamps. I even remember the lamp lighters that came around the streets at dusk lighting the lamps. We had a battery operated radio, we called it a wireless. I often had the job of taking the battery, a sort of glass jar, to the local shop to trade for a fully charged one. In 1952 my father bought our first TV a 9 inch black and white with one channel BBC. It came on air at 4 pm and shut down at 11 pm. We had a windup gramophone (record player) with a collection of five 78 records. Electric bakery vans delivered bread and baked goods around the city, laundry vans picked up and delivered laundry and milk floats delivered milk to our door steps each morning. My first job was as a van boy with the Monarch Laundry and I earned 25 shillings a week, of which twenty shillings was turned over for housekeeping. In 1955 I joined the Royal Navy at age 15 and signed on for twelve years, my time didn’t start until I was 18 years old. I owned a transistor radio in 1960 and thought it was a marvelous invention. In the Portsmouth dockyard the majority of workers came to work on bicycles, and not the fancy mountain bikes we see today. Just about everyone smoked and owned lighters, we could smoke in cinemas, pubs, restaurants and most other public places. In the Navy we still received a tot of rum everyday. We wore double breasted suits with cuffs on our trousers. We only wore sneakers (Plimsoles) for gym or other sport activities. We kept our hair short and used Brillcreem, we were clean shaven and our trousers fitted around the crotch rather than hanging at our kneecaps. We opened doors for ladies young and old, gave up our seat on a crowded bus to an elderly person. We respected the police and the politicians our parents and elders. Divorce was a scandal,getting a girl pregnant was a scandal that usually resulted in marriage. We paid our bills with cash and owed no one, we had no credit cards,cheque books or bank accounts. University was out of reach to the majority, and we left school at age 14 or 15 in most cases. We attended the cinema at least once a week and went ballroom dancing on Saturdays. How many young men could today dance the waltz, foxtrot or quickstep. We were happy with our lives, grew up with the music of the Beatles,Cliff Richards and Perry Como. Its funny how people will say “in the good old days when things were bad”. They really weren’t that bad just different times and my memories of those long gone days are still good. I thank God today for reaching another birthday, life is still good.
God Bless and keep reading.

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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