And I'm Sure Wagon Wheels Are Getting Smaller ...

Something's been bothering me for a while now: whatever happened to white eggs? In any box of six, when I was a little girl, there would be one brown speckled egg and five of the purest white. But it’s not so much the eggs as the question that troubles me. Because I’m asking other questions too, like: “Why don’t they make fizzy Spangles any more?” and: “Are Wagon Wheels getting smaller?” Worringly, they’re the kind of questions my parents’ generation ask. Does this mean I’m getting old? They say you know you’re getting old when the policemen start looking young, or you “remember when it was all fields around here”. And, while I haven’t yet reached that stage, I know I’m not a young girl any more.
I’m from that generation without a name: the offspring of the War Babies and the Baby Boomers, those who were born just before Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon (in my case only four months). And now I’m wondering: “Are the Lunar Generation turning into their parents?”
Then along comes Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes to make the 1970s  and 1980s cool again. And many elements of 1970s family entertainment are back in fashion. Basil Brush and Bruce Forsyth have made comebacks. And what was Britain’s Got Talent mean to be if not ` reborn Seaside Special? And best of all, Doctor Who is back in its rightful place on Saturday teatime telly. It’s the same scary family entertainment it always was – only now I'm seated on, rather than cowering behind, the settee.
They say you can tell someone’s age by their favourite Doctor. Well, mine’s David Tennant, although that particular warm fuzzy feeling has nothing to do with nostalgia. Seriously, “my” Doctor was Tom Baker and I think I wanted to be him. For my eighth birthday my best friend’s mum knitted me an enormously long multi-coloured scarf, just like the one he wore. I can remember wrapping it six or seven times around my neck and waiting for it to get cold. Playground games of Doctor Who were generally considered more suitable for boys: girls (and yes, I was guilty of participating in this particular gender stereotype) were more happy playing Charlie’s Angels because it involved being pretty and swishing our imaginary long hair about. I did, however, own a toy gun: bought for me by my ever-rebellious Nana so I could be Purdy from The New Avengers.
And there I am again: remembering the “good old days”. I try to remind myself that I‘m reasonably “switched on”. I know how to text (admittedly a triumph of determination over manual dexterity); I use online forums; I can operate Sky Plus; and do most of my shopping via the internet - hey I even have this website! But just as I congratulate myself for establishing my virtual persona in the online world of Second Life, I find myself having to explain the concepts of the test card and wooden escalators to the impossibly young stylist shampooing my hair. Then again, while it’s shocking to realise that I was at school with girls who have sons older than many Premiership footballers, I’m happy to remember when all yoghurt was Ski; when potatoes came in three varieties (old, new and red); and when olive oil was just for treating ear wax. If you too are on the 30s/40s borderline, I’ll bet you agree that it was nice when mums had Tupperware parties and made cheesecake; when the Eurovision Song Contest was about music not politics; and when Brownies wore dresses and bobble hats and three-quarter length socks.
In my hometown of Derby on a Saturday night, there are youngsters so full of alcohol that they’re incapable even of vouching for their own safety, and I’m glad I’m too old to join in. I yearn for the days when experimenting was limited to adding lime cordial to your lager, or Malibu to your pineapple. I no longer get irritated by cute children on TV; don’t worry about making an idiot of myself at the panto; and couldn’t care less that I can barely tell my Arctic Monkeys from my Snow Patrol. I’m not embarrassed to tear up at the first sight of a Nativity play; I realise life’s just not fair; and I already know exactly which elements of the 1980s fashion revival are going to cause the most embarrassment in 20 years’ time.
Still, when I listen to my parents reminiscing about Al Read and Ted Ray, my instinct is to push aside my own thoughts of Crackerjack and the Disney films of Jodie Foster. Then I realise that all I’m doing is remembering. It’s nostalgia I feel, not age. I’m not getting old, just older. And that’s just fine.


(Originally blogged July 07)

 

See - I'm not so old - our Brownie pack had cagoules to go with our bobble hats & dresses! I'm on the left, clutching the Family Circle biscuit tin.