An Era I’d Liked To Have Lived In – Day 9

Happy Wednesday, folks! I hope the week isn’t too trying on you. I’m having a pretty hectic and stressful week, but I’m working through it as best I can. The joys of being an adult!

We are onto Day 9 of the 30 day blogging challenge. Today’s challenge is:

An Era I’d Liked To Have Lived In & Why

My favourite part of sitting with my Grandma, when she’s not complaining about the overgrown hedge or the noisy neighbour, is the stories she tells.

My Grandma loves to talk – she can talk and talk without you even saying a word. When you do try to get a word in, she will continue talking until she goes blue in the face. She’s a witty woman and very much with it for her age. But my favourite thing to hear her talk about is her life when she was my age. Back in the 50s and 60s.

My Grandma was having babies in the era that the TV show, Call the Midwife, is set. I love the show; I love the way the community is portrayed, the simple ways of life and how people seemed to get on with things. But I always wondered if the show was realistic and authentic, so during a visit to see my Grandma, we got talking about it. An she was so passionate about her history.

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My Grandma & Aunt in 1954

She said that it was such an amazing time to be alive. I love the story about how her and my Granddad met in the fifties; Grandma was a bit of a doll and got a lot of attention from potential suitors. She made her own clothes, and was always complimented on her dress sense and fashion. She was a regular at the dance halls, and on one particular evening, a tall handsome man walked through the doors. “I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, I said to my friend at the time.” And we saw him every other week, “He’s here again, that man Jenny” – and she told her friend “that there is the man I’m going to marry.”

He came over and asked her to dance one night, and the rest is history. They went on to have 8 children, in a small house – my Grandma stayed at home, and kept a tidy house whilst the children looked after each other as they got older. Granddad worked and worked to keep the house going, and the children never went without. He was a keen photographer and there’s actually a DVD in the family of some of the footage from when they were kids at Christmas, and all their toys were brand-new, trucks and dolls and toys. It amazes me that they were able to manage but they did.

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My Grandma tells me that the 50s and 60s were the best years of her life; there was an active community spirit, people would leave their front doors open and anybody could walk in for a cuppa. If someone needed something – such as a chamber pot or a jug – the ladies would rush into their house, at the thought of making an extra few bob – give theirs a wash and sell it on. Prams were huge back then, but you still would take it down to get on the bus. “A nice man would usually stop and offer to help with these big bloody things which was ever so kind” she says. Women dressed smart, in their heels and dresses. Men in their shirts and suit pants.

For me, these things are so rare. We are immersed in our own bubbles, on our phones or in our thoughts, and a lot of what goes on around us is either not seen or is ignored. There’s a sense of entitlement in the present day – everyone is out for what is best for themselves and their unit and not for the people around them. My sister is disabled and in a wheelchair, and on one occasion alone, we were turned away by 4 buses in a row because ladies with their prams refused to put their car-sized prams down. There’s not support for each other – it’s all about entitlement.

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I would loved to have been alive back then, even the music is some of my favourite. Before my Granddad passed away, he could call me and ask me to find his favourite songs from back in the day and make him an album. I still have those songs today – and every time I hear them, I’m reminded of him and think about how lively he would have been back then. My Granddad was sick from the age of around 45, so all I ever knew of him was as a poorly man. But I imagine him going to dances, being the most handsome in the room, and women falling over him. He was a stunning man in his prime, and I’d loved to have known him then.

I wish I could know community spirit like my Grandparents knew. I work with a lot of disadvantaged children and young people, and it’s an amazing sense of community in just our little centre. We help and support each other, we’re like a family – and that’s what community was back then. It was being there for your neighbours, your colleagues, your friends. Everybody. It’s abnormal for most people now to know the names of their neighbours, let alone get into a conversation and help each other out from time to time. I’m always friendly but it’s not the same for everybody.

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So for me, the 50s is the era I’d love to go back to and experience. It seemed like a simple yet happy time, the war was over and business was booming. Jobs were a-plenty, and despite people having kids left, right and centre, they survived and made the most of nature and the environment for entertainment. Not like now, shoving a tablet in a kid’s face and leaving them for a few hours. My mum’s favourite memories as a child are the miles-long walks her Daddy used to take her on through the woods and over the hills. She has a passion for walking now because of that. They would get up to all sorts, as we did as kids in the 90s, because that’s all we had.

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My Grandparents had a strong marriage, and he passed away 8 years ago. My Grandma misses him dearly, and talks to him often. His ashes are in a box wrapped in a woodland scene with his favourite flowers, and she puts him in different places around the house – facing the garden, listening to his favourite song on the radio, in his chair. They adored one another, and it’s something that isn’t common today. Couples are quick to give up on something because the world is so connected and big now. Back then, a holiday was a trip to the coast. Now, we have the opportunity to see the whole world. It’s no longer restricted. But back then, life was small and simple.

I don’t quite know which is better – but I would sure love to have been able to try the simple life, even if it was for just a day.

Francesca x

 

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