Then and Now

 Many of the matters which concern us today are the problems of affluence; – obesity, road congestion, plastic disposal.  How different to how things were when I was growing up, at the end of the Second World War.

There were no plastics, of the sort we have nowadays  Fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper, sweets went into paper bags and bottles went back to the shop to earn us a penny refund.  In our building business we de-nailed lengths of timber for reuse, then straightened the nails on a blacksmith’s anvil to reuse those as well. I spent many hours chipping the mortar off second hand bricks to build another wall somewhere.  Every builder had a yard, and some sheds for storage.

Walk past a house renovation in town today and you’ll see a skip parked in the road outside. Into it goes everything, including the builder’s barrow when the tyre goes flat.  It grieves me so much that I have to avert my eyes, lest I dive in and start rescuing useful stuff.  Our Staunton Estate must be unusual; here we still have a yard, and sheds, and an old fashioned staff who save things and recycle them.

All of which is not to make an argument for the ‘good old days’. Our lives are better today than at any time in history.  Only the media, where bad news from around the world is their stock in trade, conspires to convince us otherwise.