Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

mike Meehan

The Lucky Generation

Recommended Posts

I was born 73 years ago today and as such consider myself to belong to one of the luckiest generations in history in our western world. We did not have to fight and go to war like those of our previous generation and the one before that and many other generation since the dawn of man.

At the time of my birth the world was in the midst of a world war and there were no certainties to anybody's future but as a baby and infant I did not realise any of this, so it did not affect me.

Most of my childhood was spent in austerity but again this did not affect me because myself and my friends were all pretty well in the same boat. Telephones, cars and televisions were owned only by a minority so we grew mostly without them.

Mostly we made our own entertainment, some of which would reduce the ‘Elf and Safety Bods’ to nervous wrecks these days.

Long walks into the countryside, using bricks from ruins to make dens, lighting fires there and with a frying pan, some lard and potatoes learning the rudiments of cooking over an open fire. Making and riding soap carts. Climbing trees and buildings – I got my privileges reduced with a couple of my mates when the headmaster found us on the school roof one weekend.

Making beautiful long slides on the pavements in the winter only to have some old lady who lived nearby pour salt over them.

Our lives were generally full and we kept occupied and later I joined the Air Training Corps which considering what we got, flying, shooting, annual camp and instruction in aeronautical subjects all for 6d a week was one of my best investments.

I had either failed the 11+ or my records had got lost when moving from the junior school to the seniors from one area to another because on my arrival at the latter the school had no record of me. However during my time at the school they developed a GCE stream and I took advantage of that.   

Then there was the advantage of developing modern science – I was born 6 weeks premature and weighed 3 pounds at birth but kept alive to tell the tale. I cut my knee on a broken milk bottle and developed septicaemia and was hospitalised but that was cured by penicillin – a few years earlier this could have led to possible death.

The same applied to developing a perforated appendix at the age of 33 years and more recently by having prostate cancer, yet I am still alive and kicking, able to enjoy life.

During the earlier periods of my growing and eventually getting married and starting a family there was no reason for any able bodied person to be out of work and unable to earn a living and as a result I have never had to claim unemployment benefits.

During my younger days it was still possible for many to buy their own houses, which I did, the semi in which I am still living in.

In pursuing my chosen career as a police officer I benefitted from what is now a generous pension and with state pensions and that of my wife’s we are able to live in relative comfort during our retirement.

From the point of view of society, then we would read books, we would have ‘golliwogs’, we could smoke in the cinemas and the pubs etc, we could call a digging utensil a digging utensil and provided we were polite and considerate to the other people there were no rules or thought police scrutinising our every word.

I don’t recall hearing of any complaints about the ‘Black and White Minstrel Show’ or Alf Garnett.

People seemed to have a lot more nous and at least you knew where you stood with people.

Now it seems in our modern society many of the youngsters have swapped books and talking for computers and smart phones.

People sometimes struggle to get a decent job, even if they have a degree and even then when they get one they do not have the same security, liable to be cast out at any time.

Unless they are very fortunate, owning their own houses is out of the question for many more people and generally we have ended up with more of a ‘dog eat dog’ world where the greedy are getting greedier and integrity, in some areas where we took it for granted, is disappearing.

We are at war but we cannot be sure who exactly our enemies are or where there are hiding – they infiltrate our communities and think nothing of killing other people, ordinary people at that, to try and prove some obscure point.

We are in the midst of Global warming and an increasing global population which if anything is going to put even more stress on the world and our societies, so that despite all the technical and scientific progress I fear that our current young will live out their lives in more troubled times.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. I'm 38 and have nothing but envy for my mother's generation (she's 70)  it's really horrible about the amount of gloating that goes on by some of the baby boomers. 

The constant "by the time I was your age I had a house, a car, a massive pension, and went on holiday every week"  it really makes me hate them, because I know that I'll never be able to attain the same lifestyle as them.

 

And yes, they may have worked bloody hard, but I work bloody hard and it's getting me nowhere fast :-(

 

I'm actually frightened for the years when I retire (lol!) It's terrifying to think I can't even trust to put my money in pension schemes or banks.  There is going to be some serious hell to pay in years to come :-(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy birthday Mike!

I'm from the generation after yours (I'm 44) and have often thought about how 'easy' you guys had it.

The previous generation to yours had all but wiped each other out in global wars to the point where they had collectively decided not to do it again. When you were a kid, science and welfare had advanced enough (in the developed world) that you weren't going to starve or die from medieval diseases.

You had access to all the world's resources which seemed so plentiful you didn't have to worry about them running out.

Many people your age are now living in houses which their offspring will never be able to afford despite them having more qualifications and working longer hours.

Some would argue that your generation squandered a golden opportunity to advance civilization but I don't. We would have done exactly the same, and so would the poor suckers in the generation after me - its in human nature to kick back and take it easy if that is what's on offer.

As you say, you were part of a lucky generation. I wouldn't beat yourself up about it too much. In life you have to take the breaks where you find them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Dougal said:

Happy birthday Mike!

I'm from the generation after yours (I'm 44) and have often thought about how 'easy' you guys had it.

The previous generation to yours had all but wiped each other out in global wars to the point where they had collectively decided not to do it again. When you were a kid, science and welfare had advanced enough (in the developed world) that you weren't going to starve or die from medieval diseases.

You had access to all the world's resources which seemed so plentiful you didn't have to worry about them running out.

Many people your age are now living in houses which their offspring will never be able to afford despite them having more qualifications and working longer hours.

Some would argue that your generation squandered a golden opportunity to advance civilization but I don't. We would have done exactly the same, and so would the poor suckers in the generation after me - its in human nature to kick back and take it easy if that is what's on offer.

As you say, you were part of a lucky generation. I wouldn't beat yourself up about it too much. In life you have to take the breaks where you find them.

Thanks Dougal,

I think that the thing is that at the time we were going through our lives and bringing up our families we did not have crystal balls and did not know about many of the things which are now prevalent - yes, it was easier to buy a house, such as a semi but it was still a struggle with months being too long for the pay cheque but the difference between now and then is that I would be having the same struggle to buy a rabbit hutch.

Luckily both my children were able to get on the property ladder but it seems increasingly likely that if my grandchildren are going to do the same they will need inheritances to help them and not everybody is in that position.

With the benefit of dotage I am able to look further back and make comparisons and at the same time look forward to get an inkling of how things are progressing, or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy birthday Mike. The 50s-80s era really does sound great, was born after that, wish I could have witnessed it. Now all I see is rampant political correctness, rampant corporatism, the decline of the nuclear family and an unhealthy obsession with individualism and special snowflake syndrome. Here come the old fashioned kipper jokes :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes the time was great. No money, hard work and mortgages at 15 odd percent. 

Having said  that life was a little simpler. Children looked forward to Christmas as it was pretty well the only time they got toys and stuff. Not like now when there appears to be drifts of toys that gather throughout the year. 

To be honest you put up with what you have got and envy, to some degree, those who have more. Fact of life. 

Snipper (an old fart who is nearly 70). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy Birthday Mike.

It wasn't really luck, it just seems like it compared to today.  After the war, there came about a consensus, even from the Tories, that things had to change. The lot of the ordinary working person improved immeasurably. It didn't make a great deal of difference which party was in power, many of the Tory politicians of the 60s & 70s, would be to the left economically of many of today's Labour MPs! It started to change in the 80s, for well-documented reasons, best not gone in to again here,& we are where we are today.

Most have more than they've ever had, but they have to sacrifice so much to keep it, I'm not sure it's worth it. They were certainly happier, kinder times for almost everyone. I look around today & see so much meanness, spitefulness & envy, it saddens me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, mike Meehan said:

I was born 73 years ago today and as such consider myself to belong to one of the luckiest generations in history in our western world. We did not have to fight and go to war like those of our previous generation and the one before that and many other generation since the dawn of man.

 

And here's me thinking you were older than me. Damn. Still we managed on the bread and dripping and powdered eggs. All the best mate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, knocker said:

And here's me thinking you were older than me. Damn. Still we managed on the bread and dripping and powdered eggs. All the best mate.

I loved the dripping on toast with plenty of salt and pepper and especially the dark bits from the bottom of the bowl, they were really tasty - By yer tell 'em now and they won't believe ye.

Best wishes to you as well Knocker.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, mike Meehan said:

I loved the dripping on toast with plenty of salt and pepper and especially the dark bits from the bottom of the bowl, they were really tasty - By yer tell 'em now and they won't believe ye.

Best wishes to you as well Knocker.

Dripping on toast - Sunday teatime mmmm!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I get told my generation eats unhealthily :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're not the first person, Mike, and you won't be the last, to have such a yearning and desire to return to the days of their childhood and youth. I'm only 28, and I look back to the 90s as a decade of great music and optimism - and things did seem simpler. Technology was making leaps and bounds but it wasn't at a point where it consumed your life - most people didn't own computers or mobile phones.

During the 00s, even with the Iraq war, households were getting wealthier, crime was falling, the economy was strong. Then 2008 came along and the economy tanked, and a generation of children that grew up knowing only good economic news were suddenly faced with a strange and unfamiliar sight - a recession, and a  global one at that. I started working full time during the lowest point of the crisis.

I think, if you grew up in the 40s and 50s, things seemed like they could only get better - but even then, there were warnings that we couldn't continue to consume resources like we do today, that overuse and misuse of antibiotics would lead to resistance, and countless other things. I think your generation, or the one just before, needs to take some responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in now - we are merely continuing the bad habits that our grandparents began a long time ago - only now we can't put off doing something about it because it's no longer '70 years in the future' - it's here, and now. Maybe if the 'Lucky Generation' had acted sooner and headed warnings then, we might have a better handle on the situation now. Who knows?

And, of course, many things that were considered appropriate back then no longer are now - and that shows in how people of your generation speak. Likewise, with smoking, only in the past 40 years have we discovered how bad it is for your health, and we have gone from having more than half of people smoking to around 20% in the space of 30 years. Some people consider this a bad thing, but things change - some for the better, some for the worse. Smoking in cinemas or restaurants is certainly not something to be missed - and I welcomed the ban on smoking in pubs and bars.

Technology has kind of taken over, the threat of terrorism now appears higher, or at least we are more exposed to it, but on the other hand, we are living longer, and we are making constant breakthroughs in medicine, with certain cancers set to be eliminated in the next 50 years and a cure for HIV seemingly a possibility. In 1965, the most common age of death was 0 - new born. In 2015, it's 87. Life expectancy was about 70 in the 60s and now it's 82. That's significant progress by anyone's standards. Once-common illnesses have all but gone thanks to effective vaccinations. According to my grandmother, who is 76, it was common to see people in braces due to things like rickets, but now it's incredibly rare.

Also, people complain about political correctness, but from the perspective of a gay person, the amount of progress we've made over the past 3 decades is remarkable. In the 80s, most people thought homosexuality was an abomination, but now it's widely accepted. While Thatcher introduced 'Section 28', Cameron introduces same-sex marriage. In the 80s, you had gangs of neo-Nazis going around beating gays and blacks. The scary side of the 80s people prefer not to acknowledge. I'm definitely happier to be alive in 2015 than 1985. In the 40s and 50s I have no reason to doubt attitudes were even more hostile but less violent.

When I'm 75, I have no doubt I'll be thinking the same thing as you are now - and I have no doubt people my mother's age (50s) will be looking back to the 70s and 80s with fondness, if they are not already. Without fail, we will grew old, see things  get better, and things get worse - and our minds will unduly focus on what was  good while glazing over what was bad. That's just  human nature. Many  things were better 50 years ago, but many things were worse. In some ways, life in 2015 is so much easier, but some things are harder as well. You take the good with the bad - that's true of all eras, all decades. Personally speaking, I think I'm fortunate to be alive now, or to be born when I was, having witnessed rapid changes in technology and medicine and will likely be around for a good 50 or so years more to see even more changes. When I'm old and frail, cancer might not exist at all, HIV will probably have a cure, electric cars might be the norm, cars might be flying, space travel might become commercial, humans might have landed on Mars. The possibilities are endless, and I hope to be around to see it all.

It's also important to remember that this is entirely from a Western perspective. While certain aspects of our live here in the West might appear worse, go to places like China or large parts of Africa and they'll tell a very different story. Since 2000, global poverty has reduced significantly, the number of people starving too has gone down drastically, more people have access to education than ever before and the past two decades have been amongst the most peaceful in world history, with no major conflicts to speak of, with Europe being free of war for over 70 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy B'day Mike. You've summed up so well what I have often thought too.

You have lived / are living, in the most fortunate time span.

Simpler, more free times in many respects, but now with modern advances in medicine etc.

Cheers,

B.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, davehsug said:

Dripping on toast - Sunday teatime mmmm!

Not only that -chips cooked in dripping whow. Not the same these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my father retired at 49 due to ill health kind of..and has lived very nicely indeed on 3 pensions and the proceed from his parents large house he got when they passed away. he is now 83 and has a god income a nice place to live etc...im now nearly the same age as when he retired even though I probably earn more than my dad did..i have little to show because of divorce etc.and my pension being carved into nothing ...there is  no way I will be able to retire until I am 75...even then will probably end up in a one bed flat living on beans on toast for the rest of my days... I feel a mid life crisis coming on...:sorry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Ed, a good idea but we should let the young whippersnappers have access in order that they can learn from our wisdom - or lack of it :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, mike Meehan said:

Thanks Ed, a good idea but we should let the young whippersnappers have access in order that they can learn from our wisdom - or lack of it :D

Absolutely not! Look at the trouble they cause around the place with their mobile phones & beat music!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, davehsug said:

Absolutely not! Look at the trouble they cause around the place with their mobile phones & beat music!

So long as they don't try texting or sending their beat music to us it will be ok it's usually on a link so we can decide not to open it.

If we restrict such a forum to ourselves we will only end up talking about each others' ailments and 'I remember when....', though I am guilty of quite a bit of that myself. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...