Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Then and Now.

Two things happened yesterday which reminded me of the old days and of today - and how they differ.   And I suppose in every generation or two there are changes like this - or is this perhaps the century where things have changed more quickly than ever before?

First of all the Postman arrived with a Parcel for me (a cardigan - I buy all my clothes and all my books on line).   We had a chat on the doorstep and he remarked that these days other than parcels all he seemed to deliver was junk mail - everything else was done 'on line'. I reminisced about my childhood when everything was done by letter'.  In the thirties only a few 'important people' in the village had a phone, the rest of us went to the red phone box, put in our two pence and pushed Button A if somebody answered and Button B if we wanted our money back.  Everything that wasn't urgent was done by letter.   My mother wrote to her sisters - two in Huddersfield working in the cotton mills and one in The Dukeries working in service- regularly and received replies and I would pick up the envelopes and recognise who the letters were from by the writing.  There were two deliveries each day - one in the morning and one just after lunch and it was rare for there to be no mail because both of my parents were avid writers.  I wrote thank you letters at Birthdays and Christmas and - like all my friends - from the age of around ten I had a pen friend in England (she was called Diana Wickens.  I wonder what happened to her - she lived somewhere on the South Coast but I can't remember where) and a pen friend in France in the hope of improving my French.  How times have changed - it is e mails,facebook - all the modern ways - or nothing these days.  And so the Post Office dwindles - and will probably disappear altogether in a few years.

And that brings me to the second thing.   I watched 'Who do you think you are?' last evening on the television.   It was David Walliams looking back into his Family History.   On one side was the terrible First World War and a Grandfather who spent forty odd years in what was then called 'a Lunatic Asylum' suffering from 'Shell Shock' - dreadful to hear about.   Then the other side of his family where a relative went blind after a cataract operation went wrong and ended up playing a Barrel Organ in Portsmouth in an effort to keep his six children and his wife fed and clothed.   But there there was a happy ending when he 'made good' and ended up owning a Funfair.   We saw lovely old film of the funfair and it was just as I remembered it - and by golly that made me feel old!!   There were swing boats, cockerels and horses, the whip, the cake walk, the flying chairs - all the fairground rides I remember going on as a child and the things like the shooting gallery, the roll a penny, all the places where you never won but always thought you might.   And there were the side shows  - the world's fattest man, the world's thinnest woman, various 'freaks' as they were called - hideous and not even contemplated in such circumstances these days but the only way to survive in those far off days.

And I wondered how we will be viewed in a hundred year's time - what things that we now do and take forgranted will be looked back on in amazement.    How everything changes and how slowly we change with it.   I might be almost 88 but I am using the internet - as are almost all of my friends.   Progress indeed.

One thing doesn't change and that is children's humour.   There was a delightful example of it during the programme about David Walliams who is of course a comedian.   Apparently he is also a childrens' author and it showed him reading one of his books to a hall full of very young, Primary School children.   He read about a little boy who had so much air blowing out of his bottom that it shot him up into the air.   When he read it out the whole hall erupted with laughter and you realised that he had just got the humour right for the age.   It was an absolute delight to see.

And a final note - lovely day here - I had my usual long walk and I enjoyed every single minute of it.   My gardener has been and has cut all my hedges and also sawn down two old trees - we really are getting there at last.




Derek Faulkner said...

I never miss "Who Do You Think You Are", it's a brilliant programme and last night's was especially good.
It's been a warm and sunny day here today but unfortunately there is a severe weather warning out for tomorrow morning for heavy rain and possible flooding - the Spanish named Storm Barbara.

Anne Brew said...

W, I decided I wanted to keep in touch with my grandchildren during Lockdown in a regular low key way and as a retired primary teacher I decided a letter to each one each week would amuse them.
Sometimes typed, sometimes handwritten with a little drawing thrown in.
I’ve been delighted on the occasions when we meet up how much they recall of the content of each letter.
My daughter sent a small video of the 3 year old carefully opening the letter and smiling.
Costs a fortune in stamps! x

Debby said...

I used to be quite a letter writer. I always had a couple going at any given time, and would add to them as I had a minute. They were all handwritten of course.

But now there is the internet as you note, and I do most of my keeping up on that. However, I have a beloved aunt who is close to your age. She has never had a television, and she lives in the old ways in her cozy little house filled with handmade quilts and canned food. She reads a lot and is regularly checked on by her grandchildren and even her great grandchildren.

I sit down and tap out a letter to her on the computer, print it out and send it off to her. Her arthritis does not permit her to write back, but she tells me often how she loves to receive those letters. It is such a pleasant way to spend an hour, writing a letter to a friend.

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JayCee said...

Thank you for reminding me of the days when letter writing was considered "normal".
My uncle and aunt emigrated to Australia in the early 1960s and I used to write to them weekly, eagerly awaiting their written reply with their news, jokes and stories of life downunder. Those letters were usually on the flimsy blue airmail paper. You could either use a ready made airmail letter which folded up and could be stuck down ready to post, or use tissue thin airmail paper , placed into an envelope and them posted with an airmail sticker on the envelope.
At Grammar school in the first and second form I had a penfriend in France, I seem to remember her name was Maggie and she lived in Limoges. We wrote regularly for several years. She once sent me a photograph of herself. A rather beautiful, stylish looking girl who was very friendly, kind, and eager to learn English and help me with my French. That was so long ago.
I cannot remember the last time I wrote a proper letter!

Anonymous said...

Charming ...

Rachel Phillips said...

I am still a letter writer, and a card sender. My friend Charly and I are more likely to exchange cards and letters than emails. But emails are also letters except they don't fall on the doormat; a personal email from a friend is equally as much of a joy to receive as a letter.

Bonnie said...

It certainly is something to think about how we will be viewed in a hundred year's time. I often look back in amazement at all that has changed just in my lifetime. I remember when letter writing was so important and how special it felt to receive a letter in the mail. We are so used to "instant" everything these days and it is nice but I sometimes think we are missing something special that came with waiting for things.

I'm so glad you've had a nice day today and enjoyed your walk. I hope your evening is just as nice for you!

justjill said...

Many years ago I think I was 10 so 60 years ago I won a calligraphy writing competition in the Daily Mirror. I had forgotten all about that til just now! I won a pen.

angryparsnip said...

I think emails are easy for people but I do not like them..... that said when I was really ill for the last 5 years letter /note writing was just so hard for me.
I am getting back into the swing of things and trying to write more.
Thinking about your last post, when I was really working on my walking I had to rest a day between I just couldn't keep that up. I had hoped to walk more then I got really ill. I am trying again.

Heather said...

My favourites were the carousel horses at the fairground rides but I was not allowed to have candy floss. The swing boats made me feel a bit giddy.
Your garden jobs are being crossed off very promptly now - it will look wonderful in the spring.
How nice that your walk was more enjoyable today. I got caught in a shower this morning but otherwise it hasn't been a bad day today. I believe we can expect heavy rain tomorrow.

Share my Garden said...

I am also from the generation of letter writers and two post deliveries a day. My mother's letters were full of detail, in fact she was far more eloquent in print than in person! When I was with her she was often in a world of her own either reading a book or doing the crossword. I treasure the letters of hers that I have kept and those from friends that are decorated with their drawings. But the immediacy of emails and link-ups on FaceTime are wonderful. In these strange times I would be lost without them.
Glad to learn that the weather was lovely in the Dales today - but I do I miss seeing any photos.

Tom Stephenson said...

I have never left Primary School age I think. I find the story of the kid with wind just as funny as real children do. I don't know if that is a bad thing or not.

Terra said...

I still enjoy writing letters and sending cards in the mail, old school as we call it here. Three of my correspondents are friends from blog land. I hope writing letters makes a comeback. Emails and texts are super useful, but you can't display them on a table where seeing them you will think of the person. By the way, I must say again that you live in a beautiful area and I so enjoy your blog.

Rachel Phillips said...

I read his first book, The Boy in the Dress, and you would love it Weave. It is for adults or children and has wonderful Quentin Blake illustrations. You could even recommend it for your book club.

Rambler said...

Coincidentally today I was sorting through a small bundle of photos, notes, receipts and miscellany that were stacked in a compartment in my writing bureau and found two beautiful letters, written to me several years ago by an elderly friend - one written after my lovely dog died (he was very special to me, a close companion and friend) and one she sent after a truly heart-breaking loss of someone special. Both made me cry again when I read them, they were so poignant and thoughtful and very much appreciated at the time. Letters are precious and you can keep them; while emails are transient and only 'of the moment' not treasured over many years to be read again and again.
Your memeories stir up so many of my own; please keep remembering.
- Rosemary x

Joanne Noragon said...

Hooray, you got in a walk today!

shadypinesqltr said...

I've been a silent reader for years, rarely commenting. Today, however, I thought I would mention an organization called Postcrossing (dot org) that I belong to. The computer will assign you a name and address to send a postcard to and also pair you up to receive one. I joined several years ago and, although I have been inactive this year, I have received postcards from all over the World. It's a free service and inexpensive to send a postcard. I enjoy receiving "real" mail too and it's fun waiting for a card to show up in the mail and you never know where in the world it's coming from.

Cro Magnon said...

As a child I only had one thing in mind when I visited the annual visiting Fair; to win a Coconut at the Coconut Shy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cro - I had forgotten the Coconur Shy - always my Dad'w favourite too
Shady Pine - lovely idea
Rachel - I shall have a read of it and see what I think. Thanks for the recommmendation

Nothing wrong with that Tom.

From today here in the UK the Postman will collect any parcels you wish to send so that you don't have to take them to the Post Office. I understand that Posrmasters in some of the smaller Post Offices are not happy about this as it takes away a lot of their business.

Thank you everyone for your contribution. Much appreciated.

Librarian said...

Nice to read your memories about mail, telephone and funfairs - indeed, very different times from what we have now.
I like to write cards and letters and even more to receive them, but my handwriting is difficult both to write and to read - it is easier for the recipient to read an email from me :-)

Mary said...

Lovely post. I remember going to the Battersea Park Fun Fair in the 1950s. The swing boats always made me feel as though I was going to fall out. The Rotor absolutely terrified me.

As for writing letters--I used to be a prolific letter writer. Remember trying to write as small as possible on the featherweight Par Avion (airmail) blue fold-up letter so I could send as much news as possible. Still have some tissue paper Par Avion stationery that I bought in a Hundred Yen store in Japan about 18 years ago.