“Hope I die before I get old!” That was The Who, talking ‘bout My Generation way back in 1965. Well, half of the band is still alive and kicking and if you’re reading this so are you.
We are the “baby boomers” . Our parents’ post war celebration of bringing children into a safe, peaceful and economically sound world.
Obviously, they weren’t capable of foreseeing the Cuban Missile Crisis, Viet Nam, The Falklands, the Gulf (twice) , Afghanistan and numerous other major conflicts that I can’t recall off the top of my head. Come to that, they wouldn’t have expected the IRA bombings, 9/11 ,7/7 or any number of terrorist attacks on a global basis. So much for safe and peaceful.
As for economically sound our lot has endured the miner’s strike, the three day week, recessions in the 70s, 80s, 90s and ta da a double dip special in the last 5 years. Not forgetting property boom and bust and Black Monday.
But for all the doom and gloom, to paraphrase Harold McMillan, we’ve never had it so good!
There has never been an era of such diversity and growth in culture, technology and health care.
Mum and Dad laughed at Elvis the “Pelvis”, threw scorn on the Beatles and comfortably predicted that that ugly bunch, The Rolling Stones, would never last. Lord knows what they would have made of Reggae, Glam Rock or Electronic Dance Music?
It seems like yesterday when I tentatively placed my first 45s on the spindle of my Dansette record player and marvelled as one by one they dropped to the turntable, the arm magically moving sideways to gently place the needle on the first groove and lo and behold…music.
Back then your music was an immoveable feast, it stayed in your room so you could be screamed at to “turn that infernal racket down”. That changed in what seemed like a flash. Music on the move has become the norm. 8 track cartridges gave way to cassettes and the Walkman. We welcomed the CD as a mini version of our beloved LPs but it hasn’t taken long for that to be replaced by our ubiquitous I pods and smart phones carrying more music in the palm of your hand than would’ve filled a floor to ceiling record library.
The little Bakelite box that sat in corner of the lounge and burped out safe little black and white images spouting in BBC speak that shut down with the National Anthem before midnight has evolved into a 50inch, flat screen, HD, 3D, surround sound behemoth that never closes. We can now take our pick from hundreds of channels designed to entertain and educate from Ab Fab to Zoids and anthropology to zoology. Where we used to rely on the rosy cheeked paper boy shoving our daily newspaper through the letter box we can now watch breaking news worldwide on CNN, BBC or SKY .
Remember how the cinema used to be? Movies would first be shown in the “West End” and it would be a really grand occasion to see that special film before it went local several weeks later. Every town had it’s Odeon or Gaumont picture house, often beautifully designed Art Deco buildings with sumptuous interiors and plush velvet seats with ashtrays in the armrests. An usher or usherette would show you to your seat and in the interval a member of staff would wander up and down the aisles selling ice cream tubs, Butterkist popcorn and Kia Ora from a special box worn round the neck. More often than not you’d see a double feature, the big movie plus a supporting film and even a couple of cartoons thrown in for good measure. One showing in the afternoon and one in the evening.
And now the multiplex proliferates. Slick, modern and efficient. Anything from eight to eighteen screens. Parking for thousands and showings from morning til night. Movies launched nationwide on the same day and concession stands selling everything from a bag of M&Ms to Burgers and Fries.
Mind you, we still have to sit through the ads!
Music, movies and TV are only the tip of the humongous iceberg that is technology. Every aspect of our life is affected. Whether its our phone that carries more information than the computer that orchestrated the moon landings. The PC, laptop or tablet that allows us to Skype or video chat with our nearest and dearest wherever they are in the world or conduct international business meetings from the comfort of our homes. The internet that has enabled us to shop, learn and share our every moment at the click of a key.
Our homes are filled with labour saving gadgets that just do everything better. Eyesight can be improved with lasers. Surgery using cameras the size of a pinhead to conduct operations previously thought of as impossible. We even have proper electric cars, a concept thought of as a folly less than two decades ago.
Technology has enriched our lives, it has helped us live longer. It has helped us live smarter and it has helped us be entertained using whatever medium floats our boat.
Sure, there is a time for nostalgia. What is the point of having lived through over half a century of massive change if you can’t harbour affection for what has gone before or indeed that has got us to where we are now. If you are anything like me and, I’m sure so many of you are, lets not dwell on the “good old days” but jump headlong into the now, the present and unquestionably the future and take full advantage of everything that can enhance our lives. After all guys, we’ve earned it.