Picture the scene: a 23-year-old mother has just settled down to her first cigarette of the day after running about her two-bedroom terraced house after her three children since 6am that morning.
The year is 1955, for handiness’ sake the time is also 19.55.
I wasn’t born in 1955 but following extensive research I have learnt that everyone in the mid-50’s smoked, had three children before the age of 25 and lived in terraced accomodation.
The young mum in question takes her final drag on the cigarette and gathers herself to tackle the pile of soiled towelling nappies at her feet provided with clockwork regularity throughout the day by her three children, each of them breastfed in keeping with 1955 custom.
The art of changing a nappy bore no frills in 1955. The child was put in the sink, the tap turned on and the wailing infant was scrubbed clean with a brillo pad. Once clean, a new nappy was put on and fastened with an industrial-sized safety pin. If the child didn’t stay still they could find themselves with a belly-button piercing.
The steaming pile of nappies will now have to be deep cleaned individually using a washboard borrowed from George Formby before they can be used again the following day. As she begins the task at hand, drained of energy and nutritional goodness, the woman is thankful at least that her children are now soundly asleep, each of them put to bed after a small glass of gin and a smack.
Nowadays we have disposable nappies, babywipes, 103-varieties of infant milk and registered childminders.
Parents today never had it so easy.
Children of today should also count their blessings.
Picture the scene: it’s still 1955 and a child is playing in his cot with a stick and a hoop.
Instead of crying to his mum (not the same mum as the previous example) for food, water or a new toy, he’s turned his hunger, thirst and boredom into inspiration. In the past hour he’s invented six new games to play with a stick and a hoop.
Very soon he’ll be let out of his cot at which point he’ll get his tea, but only after he’s walked to the shop, barefoot, and brought home the necessary ingredients. The shop is 12 miles away and his mother’s list includes a sack of potatoes and a flagon of ye olde extra virgin olive oil.
At this stage I’m guessing some readers have cottoned on to the fact I have no idea what family life in the mid-50’s was like. I can only guess it was rubbish because they didn’t have the Internet.
In today’s society every man, woman and child with a dream in their heart and an Internet enabled device in their hand can log on to the World Wide Web. The door policy is non existent. Tattoos, jeans, white trainers - come on in, you’re very welcome.
The result is a glorious pool of information provided by everyone from decorated professors to shamed laundrette owners.
Back in 1955, if a child developed a mystery illness, its parents would consult a doctor or rush to hospital. Nowadays we just ‘Google it’.
Just a couple of weeks ago Lucy developed an odd bumpy rash on her cheek. I did what every responsible parent would do and consulted the Internet.
Worst case scenario is she may be turning into a lizard, but on the plus side I found out I’ve won 950,000 euro on the Spanish Lottery.