Pullyman goes cold turkey

Michael Cowin

Michael Cowin

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I started to write about Christmas in last week’s column and got tangled up in good intentions and toys.

So carrying on with the same theme of how things were much different then than they are today, let’s see if I can get past the pork butcher’s window.

We live in a world dominated by the three Ts: Tesco, Television and Terrorism. Now before the OFT ring me up, I would like to clear the air and set the record straight.

I am not in any way connecting Tesco with terrorism.

It’s just that Tesco is the only supermarket chain that begins with the letter ‘T’, and I like alliteration .

My memories about Christmas past probably start about 1945 or 1946.

The war was over and things were starting to return to normal. My father was home after spending the last five years in the RAF based in Scotland. He was back at work in Quiggin’s timber yard in Lake Road. I suppose the financial status of the family had risen from completely skint to nearly skint.

I can remember the ration books and the treats. The programmes on the wireless, the concerts in the church, the ‘Just William’ books and the family card games.

I can remember the Christmas ‘Police Treat’ for kids low down on the treat ladder.

A week before Christmas the Constabulary would lay on a cartoon show in the Picture House and hotpot in St George’s Hall. We would be sent home with a paper hat, an apple and an orange. I never thought of myself as deprived but I never had any difficulty getting a ticket.

We had enough to eat and a warm house. Whatever Father Christmas put into our pillow case was a complete surprise and most welcome.

Television, it’s programming and advertising, are huge influences on our lives today.

We did not have supermarkets nor did we have television. We had shops and urban shopping centres. By and large our shops were specialists. Butchers, bakers and grocers, etc. Now we have supermarkets.

It’s easy for people of my generation to look at life today with all its excesses and extravagances and be critical.

But we were the architects of today’s world. We always wanted our children to have an easier life than we ever had and likewise with their children, our grandchildren.

You only reap from what you sow.

Consider terrorism. Today’s terrorists are the children and grandchildren of people like us. Ordinary.

It is easy to view things with hindsight and I freely admit I know nothing about Middle Eastern politics.

But how can our leaders believe the way to counter the acts of terrorism which plague us today is to drop bombs on other countries?

I was listening to a World Service broadcast and the journalist reported there were at least 400,000 Syrian children living with their families in refugee camps in Lebanon alone. There are refugee camps all over Europe. Those families have no hope, no dignity, no future. I wonder who they will blame.

It certainly won’t be their Prophet. Heaven help us all.

When I was a lad there was one thing we could all look forward to: a job when we left school. Now, a degree is no guarantee you will find work.

The final difference is the result of inflation. How much things cost. In 1962 when I started work in Strand Street, my wage was (in today’s currency) £8.50 per week.

I think the current minimum wage is just over £7 per hour.

And finally, an unusual statistic which serves no purpose and means absolutely nothing. Before currency decimalisation the pound in your pocket was 240 pennies, weighing 2250gm.

After decimalisation your pound is 100p, weighing 360gm. We really did get more for our money.

There’s a lot to be said for being 75. Happy Christmas.

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