In the olden days …

Topic of conversation among the canteen mums yesterday: first memories. Not the eating slugs kind, significant world events. “I remember Robert Kennedy being assassinated,” said one. “I remember the Vietnam War ending,” said another. “Man walking on the moon,” said a third. “Bay of Pigs,” said a fourth. I found this weird on several levels. One, that primary school mums are old enough to remember such things (aren’t we traditionally supposed to be about 25, not 50ish?). Two, that the only significant world event I can remember is Elvis dying. (I decided not to mention it, as I didn’t want to appear frivolous – everyone else was being so serious and political.) I moved the conversation on to technology, more specifically my recollection of colour television arriving. It confused everyone at first, they thought I was talking about getting their first television, which sent them off on an entirely different tangent of memories. When I finally got them back on track, most couldn’t recall the arrival of colour TV. Bizarre, because for me it was momentous. One minute TV was black & white, next it was COLOUR. Awesome. On a roll, I told them about being the first kid in the street to get a video recorder. My adoring grandmother handed me $800 one day to buy one. (I’d been telling her how desperate I was to record my favourite Countdown clips … Footloose, Bananarama, Steve Strange, Split Enz … I still have them all, actually/sadly.). At first, there was only one video hire shop in the whole of Newcastle, in Mayfield of all places. We’d trek over on weekends to get our stack of new releases. Very posh. “And what about mobile phones,” I remarked, “remember when they were like house bricks?” “Oooh, yes,” agreed one mum. “I went out with a guy who had one, and he kept finding excuses to call people during our date [reflective eye roll]. I thought he was so cool.” We moved on to computers. I can’t believe computers had only just arrived in workplaces when I got my first job. Journalists even got special “VDT” allowances for using them. Bizarrely, however, when a canteen mum brought up email, I couldn’t remember it arriving. How could I have forgotten that? I love email so so much. Email virtually removed my need to use a telephone, god bless it. I hate phones. I go all stilted and yell into them like a hard-of-hearing granny. But I’ve finally mastered SMS, which is a great advance in my communication skills. OK, so where am I going with all this? Well, a lot has happened in the past 40 years. I’ve lived through interesting times. All the technology the Sprogs take for granted, most of it didn’t even exist when I was a kid. It’s so weird, and I’m going to sound like such an old fogey when I badger the Sprogs about it today.

PS Canteen duty almost killed me yesterday. Two thousand kids, heatwave, 90 minutes of frenetic ice-block sales, lots of complex adding and subtracting in my head … There was also a deeply harrowing moment when the iceblocks ran out, and I was sent for more supplies in the back fridges. I checked every fridge, couldn’t find them. Turns out all the fridges have a five-minute auto-lock on them after opening. So no ice-blocks for five minutes. Five minutes is a long time in a canteen in a heatwave with desperate children clawing at the windows … 

TONIGHT’S MENU: Leftover tomato soup for everyone else, takeaway at a friend’s house for me. Yippee!

3 thoughts on “In the olden days …

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  1. wow, I remember when we got a colour tv too! and the first brick mobile phones! none of the other political useless stuff though… omg you really have 2000 kids at a primary school! Please tell me that this is artistic licence cause 2000 kids all wanting to know the best way to spend their last 5 cents would really do my head in! I used to go mad at what I considered to be a large school of about 500

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