12 May 2005


Ford Cortina 1.6GLX, a 1970s icon in Daytona Yellow.

When I drove this car, personal computers and mobile phones were confined to the pages of science fiction. Hi-fi meant indiscernible lyrics behind pops and crackles. Mars bars were eight inches long and town centres were deserted after 10pm.

Parents regarded swing parks as safe havens for their children. The worst that could befall them was having their sweets pinched by the local bully. Daisies grew all summer under skies of the deepest blue. We lay on our backs feeling the warm grass, talking about rock n' roll. Sally kept looking away whenever our young eyes met then fell about giggling with her friends.

Good strong men were in charge of the country. War hardly ever happened and TV was wall to wall gentle game-shows and cartoons. Boys settled their playground differences with fists, not knives. We skipped without embarrassment.

Evenings were long and happy. It never rained from May to September. Footballers shook hands. I heard from my pen-pal just three times a year. Postmen delivered mail the very next day, before breakfast. Eggs were huge with feathers stuck to the shell and carried soft orange yolks.

Tomatoes were crimson and marmalade tasted of oranges. Tinned pear halves came in juice or syrup. Custard was dark yellow and cream was good for you. Very few E-additives had been added. Apples were sweeter and crisper.

Cows only came in black and white, horses were always brown. Dogs never bit only barked. Bumble bees bumbled. Banks were honest, Post Offices only sold stamps and nobody spoke in the library.

Nothing in a child’s toy box needed batteries or a plug. We had no need for display screens, menus, drivers or operating systems. Depression was unknown, people suffered a breakdown in the privacy of their own home.

Telephone numbers were four or five digits. Only famous people were ex-directory. Coins were heavy and banknotes were long and wide. A chequebook made you feel important.

Who said "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be!" – I did!


4005 N 24th said...

One thing I wish I could recapture is the full deep sleep of minimum 9 hours, every night, with very wonderful dreams. How the mighty have fallen.

Wardo said...

This car doesn't excite me the way the bike did.

Although I don't lament pear halves not coming in juice or syrup, I actually remember a lot of these things. And I miss them.

I wish I was a kid again. My parents were huge and infallible, going out for dinner was the highlight of any trip, and the summer days never ended.



doughgirl said...

....and the greatest day of the year was when someones paretns bought a new appliance (a refrigerator or stove) so we could play in the box :) Yep yep

Perfect Virgo said...

Denis - I manage 6 or 7 if I'm very lucky. As for dreams I do remember them from time to time. You'll remember the 'Nightmare' post.

Argus - Yes I agree, the bike is the winner. Funny how we see things through rose-tinted specs! I remember summer days that were hot, dry and laced with cold soft drinks. Daisy chains...

DG - yes we kids found our fun where we could. When they were small my own boys also played in huge empty cardboard boxes (20 years ago!)

RuKsaK said...

Bloody hell - you nearly had me welling up here. Some very nice, tight observations which bring back the early 70s for me as a kid. Everything smelt different then too and don't forget the hard, white dog shits you used to see, but never do anymore - I miss those too.

Perfect Virgo said...

Ruk - knew I could rely on you for the dog shit reference! I think I miss 'em?
I never witnessed them in production but was convinced they came from small poodles.

Talking of smell, I used to cycyle past a 'Mother's Pride' bakery in Poole. The smell was enormous!

Marjory said...

PV you are moving from strength to strength! A most marvellous piece and a joy to read. The comment from ruksuk about white dog poo made me laugh as well, so there's an added bonus. Keep it going!

Perfect Virgo said...

Reeves - bit of a departure but hey, I'm a sensitive soul!

doughgirl said...

Wow perfect, you had to throw that 20 years ago thing in there huh...Whew I feel old all of a sudden...lol.
Could it really be 20 yers ago...hmmm, I think youre right, I would have been 13...ouch!!!!

Perfect Virgo said...

DG - I would have been 27 and my boys 3 and 1. We've all changed a lot since then.

finnegan said...

4005 N 24th said...One thing I wish I could recapture is the full deep sleep of minimum 9 hours, every night, with very wonderful dreams.

I often wish the same. The sad thing is that when you get older, you tend towards nostalgia; especially towards dreams that haunted us in our waking hours.

Virgo, as I'm nearly as long in the tooth as you, I'd have to add bottled milk deliveries to the mix. Oh man, did your milk also have that foil seal with the paper tab that made a certain "plip" when you pulled it out?

In Silverlake, Los Angeles where I grew up, we even had a Japanese fish monger who delivered the day's catch all beautifully sliced and paper wrapped. And the Helms Bakery "toot-tootin", with that odd whistle that sounded like three blowers at once, and similarly wafted outrageous baked smells right into our living room.

Oh and I've made another banner button link to your site from one of your photos I stole and resized in Photoshop. Let me know if you'd rather have me link it to your other blog.

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - beautifully said! Yes we had bottled milk too and the milkman collected the washed empties every day. Birds used to peck through the foil caps and sip the cream which had risen to the top.

Sounds like you have similar nostalgia material in LA. Guess its really the same the world over.

The banner trick is great. Please feel free to use any images you fancy. I don't mind if you linkto both sites. The Buick City Complex is probably the more active of the 2.

The Flea said...

The sad thing is, nostalgia, in essence, will never change. The oldies will reminisce and the youngens will yawn. And yet, as the youngens replace the oldies and start feeling the same pangs of nostalgia, just as their forebears did, they'll regret their youthful criticism.

They'll also suddenly understand what their parents meant when they said: "I was young once too you know."

Perfect Virgo said...

You describe that cycle well. I can hear myself saying things my parents said. Its all part of maturity I guess.

On a similar theme but slightly different tack, I plan never to let myself become "just like my dad." I will enjoy nostalgia but won't let it separate me from my kids. I embrace the generation my grown-up boys belong to.