Editor’s Comment: November 2019
PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:00 21 October 2019
Lava lamps, ice cream vans, doing the pools, tape-recording the Top 40, Advocaat. Our editor takes a trip down memory lane and looks back on ‘those little things that somehow make life better’ with November’s Nostalgia issue
Welcome to the Nostalgia issue, and welcome to some things that we seem to have lost along our journey from Fifties finesse to 2019 nihilism - those little things that somehow make life better.
I'm talking about things like reading a book. It's not demanding; it's not difficult. Yet a good book can be life-affirming, informative and utterly compelling.
When did you last mend something? I mean sit down with a screwdriver or a tube of glue and actually effect a repair? Again, a small but satisfying task that will put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.
Remember politeness? Those few kind words: please and thank you. A smile, a greeting. Opening a door for someone. A genuine expression of gratitude.
When did you last get dressed up? I mean properly dressed up. Shirt, tie, waistcoat, jacket, cuff links and a nice pair of brogues? (We'll give the wing collar and spats a swerve.) You feel good. No, really you do.
When did you last cook a meal at home? Not a ready meal or a Vesta beef curry, but a stew or a fish pie or a roast. Cooked from scratch? With real ingredients.
And remember dinner parties (or country suppers as they're know in these elevated parts)? You'd pitch up with a bottle of summer holiday ouzo and a dusty box of sell-by date chocolates to be served a prawn cocktail and a Delia casserole.
Real hobbies. Remember them? The painstaking assembly of an Airfix model or the collection of railway carriage numbers. Painting Subbuteo kits.
Proper cars. None of your foreign stuff. The proud products of Rootes, British Leyland and Vauxhall reigned supreme; the Morris Marina dominated the showroom.
A tartan travel blanket, a box of tissues and an empty tin of boiled sweets. A completely pointless car jack and tow rope.
Take Your Pick, putting a coin in the back of the television, a copy of the Radio Times in a tasseled binder.
Proper scandals. Profumo and Lady Chatterley; dead dogs on Exmoor.
Package holidays. Watneys Red Barrel and two weeks in Torremolinos. Sunburn and the squits.
Football rattles. Community singing led by a man in a white coat. Shin pads made of reinforced cardboard. Referees who are retired butchers from Hereford.
Mulled wine. Tinsel. Selection boxes. The unwanted purple one at the bottom of a tin of chocolate. Dates.
Proper celebrities. The Beatles and the Stones rather than some mis-spelt mumblers from Mile End. K-Tel compilation albums where Frank Bloke from Peckham pretended to be David Bowie.
Blue school exercise books wrapped in Anaglypta. Metal tins of dividers and compasses. Ducking flying blackboard dusters.
Pressing Button B. Ringing three times then hanging up when you get home. The smell of Bakelite.
Lava lamps, ice cream vans, doing the pools, tape-recording the Top 40, Advocaat.
Oh how the ghost of you clings;
these foolish things, remind me of you.
While it may have been fun when we were young (see above) and, given the woes of Westminster, rarely can there have been a more appropriate time for the overthrow of the government. I have to admit that these days, Bonfire Night is a complete pain in the backside. It is ridiculously expensive, dangerous and scares the dogs. It is increasingly difficult to find any justification for it whatsoever.
When you consider the amounts of money involved in the mass public displays, you do wonder how the cash might be better spent. As we're in the month of remembrance, an obvious cause for commemoration springs to mind.
For more from Mike, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor