The Queen’s Jubilee – 25 years later…

Life they say, is a terminal disease… I know it’s going to kill me one of these days!

Why does everything seem to be so stress-related. Why do we spend an inordinate amount of time running around trying to complete pointless tasks in order to somehow complete our consumer-driven existentialist lifestyle.

When I was a child (and by child I mean prior to requisite teenage angst and associated peer pressures), I had no real problems, no real fears, no real worries and I happily traversed each waking day with the relative ease of the innocent and naive. When I look back on my lifestyle with adult eyes, it is clear that we lived below the bread-line in high-rise social housing, with little or no money, a poor diet, no parental control add to this the constant looming threat of eviction due to unpaid bills and you might think that this was a recipe for disaster. The reality was that this was a pretty much normal working-class life back then.

The time to which I refer is the 1977 – The year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

Let’s consider the social-economic model and general lifestyle of that period as it applied to our average working class family (as best as I can remember it anyway);

  • TV consisted of 2½ channels (BBC2 was only on for about 6 hours a day), with frequent “Test Cards” and “Interludes”, and in any case, we were only allowed to watch children’s TV on a Saturday morning, or briefly after school.
  • Pocket Money didn’t happen. I might have had 5p change from being sent to the shops for milk and bread.
  • The above mentioned trip to the shops, was when I was the age of 6. would you send your 6-year-old to the shops?!
  • Holidays occurred once a year, but were always a caravan in Caister (Norfolk) or a bungalow overlooking a sea wall in Jaywick (Essex), neither of which had running water or flushing toilets.
  • We played in the streets till it was dark or 5pm (whichever came first) every day.
  • We made up our own games using sticks, bits of string and trees.
  • We lived off sausage and chips, crisps and Corona fizzy-pop
  • We NEVER had a ‘new’ car (or one even close to being reliable…)
  • We only got our hair cut when we couldn’t see where we were walking

1977 was a hot summer (not as hot as 1976 of course), but a fairly calm prelude to the Winter of Discontent that would ensue at the end of 1978, when the nation saw frequent electricity cuts caused by the general strikes, panic buying and petrol and food shortages.

However…  and this is the significant point… We were generally quite happy kids. No-one had Asthma, no-one had eating disorders (basically because hardly anyone was fat to start with), no-one had even heard of anyone they knew seeing a “Counselor” or “Therapist”. We all had friends, we all played together and we were all blissfully unaware of problems, be they within the family unit, or on a more global scale.

What does that tell us?

Well, before any conclusion is reached, we need to look at society in an even bigger way, so continuing with 1977

  • The Queens Silver Jubilee – This was England’s patriotism at its best; Street parties, banners across roads – the entire country basically stopped on the 7th June, much as it has this weekend (although I don’t remember it being so wet then!)
  • Mortgage Rates were at about 8% (jumping to 17% by 1980!)
  • Inflation was at 15.8%
  • Oil was at around $13 barrel, but petrol was only 78p a Gallon (17p a Litre)
  • The average salary was £10,000
  • An average house sold for £13,650
  • Most families had one car
  • Concorde started flying regularly between London and New York
  • Jimmy Carter becomes the 39th President of the USA
  • Punk and Ska music were filling the charts with bands like The Sex Pistols whose “God Save the Queen” was timed to coincide with the Jubilee
  • We saw the Space Shuttle sitting on top of a Boeing 747 being tested before its first flight in 1981
  • Star Wars appears in the cinema (followed at Christmas by every toy you can imagine!) – of course… it was episode 1 then!
  • You needed to buy a 49pence license from the Post Office if you wanted to have a dog!

The cold-war was still raging and there was a general sense of poverty about the entire nation, but no-one seemed too bothered about it, and seemed to just get on with their lives.

Police Officers were actually visible on the street (or on a bicycle!) and were armed with only a truncheon and a whistle. However…. if you got up to mischief, they would clip you round the ear, drag you by the scruff of your neck back home, and stand there whilst your Mum and Dad also clipped you around the ear.

Working-mans clubs and pubs were always full. Sunday dinner always appeared by magic. There was always bread in the cupboard and milk in the fridge, but the kids were all a bit scruffy, wearing flared jeans with holes in them (before that become fashionable) and T-shirts that looked a bit too small in criminally bright colours.

So where exactly am I getting to with all this nostalgia?

It’s simple really. If life was so difficult then, why does it seem so much more stressful now that we have more money, more food, more medicine and more devices to make our lives easier? Everything is disposable and cheap, and the ‘quality’ of life has increased significantly (for most people I might add, but not all…)

In my mind it all goes back to this consumer-driven existentialist lifestyle. The more we buy, the more we surround ourselves with disposable baubles. Constant advertisements, product reviews and infomercials drive this self-serving consumerism, making us even more obsessed with having the latest, greatest and most feature-rich cars, TV’s and kitchen appliances.

Where will it all end? …… Who knows.

 

This article was written by Paul, who as well as being a CTO, runs a Tech Blog called CommsBlog – Note that all figures were derived from Google and WikiPedia, so if you find any errors, please comment below so that they can be corrected.

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