O tempora o mores

Jan 22nd, 2023

O tempora o mores

I make the mistake of reading the news – sometimes I wish I didn’t.

Everything seems to be in a sad decline. I wouldn’t wish to comment on peoples’ customs so I will stick with the times part.

I grew up in 1970s in a village near Carlisle. My father was a mid-ranking Civil Servant and as normal at the time, my mother didn’t work but looked after the house and my brother and I. When we were both at school, she took part time jobs but didn’t work full time until N and are were both in our teens. The part time jobs were really so she could have her own income to buy treats and extras for everyone. We had a nice four bedroom house on a modern estate with fields and woods round about. We had a car and a motorbike but my father cycled to work every day. Every year we had a two week holiday in Spain and several other holidays in UK (we were lucky enough to have a grandmother in Blackpool, grandparents in Scotland and an aunt in Cornwall).

We had never heard of food banks – I don’t think they even existed and out of the thirty odd children in my primary school class only one had free meals. The school meals were so cheap then that the vast majority of people could afford them. My father paid off his mortgage in his late forties because property was a reasonable price then.

From the age of about 7 I went into Carlisle on the local train on my own to go to the library. When I was 12 or so I would take the train to Glasgow, change stations and trains on my own to visit my grandmother in Dumbarton. I was never afraid or felt intimidated because I was a female child.

Note that this was all in 1970s which must be one of the most reviled decades in (fairly) recent memory.

Now we have a situation where both parents have to work full time to bring up their children, leading to spiralling childcare costs. People can’t afford food or power and are sitting in the dark and cold feeling hungry. Property is so expensive that young people can’t get on the housing ladder. I left home at 18 and got my first house at 21 – now people are living with their parents into their thirties. Rents are just horrific – I can’t understand how they can be paid.

I know that in a number of ways I had a comfortable and cushioned childhood – we didn’t live in an inner city and my father wasn’t unemployed but I still can’t understand just where we as a society have gone wrong.

For reference this is me in 1977 wearing my costume as a page boy to Edward I in the Carlisle pageant. The house behind is the one I mention in Dalston – and is the background is our Wartburg car – my father loved cheap cars and this was an East German Fiat knock-off with the dubious distinction of having a two stroke engine.

The picture at the top is of the buffet my Mum made for my 21st birthday party in our little house in St Nicholas Street Carlisle – price £13,000