Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Reminiscences of childhood in the 1960s and 1970s

I was having a conversation with a colleague of a similar age not too long ago and we had a great time reminiscing about our respective childhoods from the 1960s and 1970s.

It was only about ten minutes’ walk to my primary school (we called them primary, junior and senior school in those days in the UK!) and every morning I would pass this young lady going in the other direction (goodness knows how old she was – could have been anything from 14-24). The thing was she looked so grown up and I longed to look like her and walk in the other direction (that meant I had progressed to senior school as it was in the other direction!)

I can’t remember now what it was about her that seemed so grown up. It could simply be the fact that she was bigger than me and went the other way LOL.

Three things I do vividly recall knowing I would be grown up when I did these things – one was to wear tights (pantyhose in the US) instead of socks, secondly to wear high heeled shoes – particularly the stilettos that my mum wore, and thirdly to watch a James Bond film (in those days it was Sean Connery or Roger Moore)!

I am pleased to say I have achieved all three of those!

Women wearing trousers was a big issue in the late 60s, particularly if you were a housewife.

I remember clearly when we were visiting my sister’s in-laws and her mother-in-law was wearing ‘slacks’ as they called them. My mother’s amazement left me with an indelible memory! And from then on you couldn’t get my mother out of ‘slacks’ outside of work. Even on the beach!

Actually, a woman was still expected to wear skirts or dresses at work (if you worked as a secretary like she and I did/do). It wasn’t until I was working in an arts centre in the 1990s that I started wearing trousers because it was so cold in the winter!

Some other things From that era include: Green Shield stamps (I LOVED licking them!), mini skirts, the insurance man who came to your house to collect weekly contributions, and black and white TV programmes (my father still had a black and white TV when I left home).

When I turned 50 a few years ago another friend had turned 50 just a few months earlier and we were comparing our lives to that of our mums at the same age. We both remembered helping our mums with the ‘twin-tub’ washing machines which involved manually taking the washing from washing compartment to put them into the spinning compartment.

Both of our mums had dentures – I am not sure if it was because we have better dental hygiene these days or if it was just fashionable to have gleaming dentures?! Mum wouldn’t have dreamed of dying her hair like me – but she hardly had any grey even when she died at 57. And I dread to think what she would have thought of the tattoo I have these days!

As for Dads – well I was lucky that my Dad lasted until he was 80 and we had some terrific times together. But my memory of him in childhood was a father who played with us (even ‘double’ spraining his ankle when we were playing squash). It was Mum who was the disciplinarian in the household. And later Dad’s role was picking me up when I went to the cinema.

Dad’s and my tastes were often similar. One of the food inventions was powdered ice-cream (I can’t find anyone who remembers this now! I believe it was from the same people who do angel delight but definitely ice cream) and Mum’s favourite was blackcurrent.

It was such a vivid purple colour that Dad and I refused point blank to eat it! But I was a very fussy eater, however, as my Mum was in her 40s when I was born and my sister (nearly 19 years older than me) left home when I was six months old, Mum just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle and let me eat what I wanted. So I had ice-cream (except the purple kind) for dessert practically every single day. The only exceptions were mousse or actual angel delight.

Talking of food, those were the days (in the UK) when certain foods were known by other names - a snickers was a Marathon and starburst was Opal Fruits. In fact there was a great little advertising song that went with the latter, “Opal fruits, made to make your mouth water.” Doesn’t quite work with the word ‘starburst’! (One food I haven’t had for donkey’s years – they used to have tiny little very sweet seedless grapes. I adored those!). And as for advertising songs, one of my favs was, “I’m a secret lemonade drinker……” now finish the rest of the line!

Favourite tv programmes included Dr Who, Star Trek, Blake’s Seven, Space 1999, Lost in Space, Buck Rogers in the 25th century, Battlestar Galactica, Time Tunnel, The Tomorrow People …. (you can see my interest in sci-fi started young!), but also not-to-be-missed (even though Dad called them ‘sick programmes’!) were The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie.

Ah, those were the days. Goodnight everyone……


  1. R Whites, and god I loved Avon in Blakes Seven.

    1. Me, too, on Avon. He was sooooo sexy (and I am not talking hunky sexy, just electric!)