Thursday, 27 September 2012

Old But Not That Old!

I was watching the TV the other day and saw a BUPA advert for its Care Homes.  It features an old chap who tells us about all the things he has seen and done in his life, including "even won a medal in the War".  He goes on to tell us that he's now 83.  But, hold on a minute, just rewind there.  If he's 83, that means he was born in 1929, which means that when the War broke out in 1939, he was 10, and would only have been 16 when it ended in 1945.  So, how did he manage to win a medal?  Surely, he wouldn't even have been old enough even to have been in the War!

I've noticed this with quite a few things.  In fact, the Second World War is now so long ago, that although there are quite a few people still alive who can remember it from when they were kids, there are very few people relatively speaking alive who are old enough to have actually taken much of a part in it.  It ended 67 years ago, so unless you are in your late 80's, its unlikely you lived through much of it as an adult.  But, its not just in relation to the War.

A while ago, I was watching a documentary about the 1950's, and how people lived.  I grew up in the 1950's and 60's, an so can remember what it was like quite clearly.  I remember in the 1950's my mum doing the washing with a dolly peg, and dolly tub, and we had a scrubbing board, which like many other kids at the time I also used to use as a musical instrument, like the skiffle groups at the time used to do.  I remember having a bath every Sunday night in an old zinc bath in front of the fire in the living room.  I remember, by the 1960's, my mum upgrading to a gas washing machine, that still required a lot of manual effort both to agitate the washing in it, and to wring it through the attached mangle.  I also remember us upgrading from the zinc bath to a cast iron, roll top bath (that would be very classy today), that my dad rescued from the nearby farm that specialised in reclaiming stuff from demolition.  It was fitted into the back kitchen, but still had to be manually filled with hot water from a large gas boiler, because even by the time I left home in 1974, we still never had running hot water in the house.

I was watching this documentary where there were a number of people being interviewed, some of them minor celebrities from today, some of them not, most of them no older than me, many of them not as old, and yet they were talking about how THEY did the washing in these kinds of ways, and how great it was when they upgraded to an electric washer, obtained a fridge, a vaccum cleaner and so on.  But again, its different that I can remember all these things from that time, and what my mum had to do to do the washing and so on, and to confuse that with me doing it!

The same thing even happens with more recent times.  I've lost count of the number of programmes about the 1970's, I've watched that have been commented on, by various talking heads who either would not have been born at that time, or else were in short pants, but who talk about the pop music etc. of the time, as though they lived through it.

I suppose, it reflects as much as anything the fact that many of the people making the programmes, are themselves only young, and so, as I once thought when I was 16, everyone over 18 is old, and you gradually increase that evaluation, as you get older yourself.  My wife said the other day, she'd visited her mother, who is nearly 90, who had described the people who've just moved in across from her, as middle aged.  My wife reckons they are in their 70's!  So, I suppose, a 20 something film producer can be forgiven for thinking that anyone over 60 must have experienced every historical event of the twentieth century.

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