Were the good old days really so good?

Was it all sunshine, free love and happiness in the Sixties? Er... no. This is Sid James and Peggy

Was it all sunshine, free love and happiness in the Sixties? Er... no. This is Sid James and Peggy Mount in 60s sitcom George and the Dragon. Picture: ARCHIVE

Next thing you know, they'll be administering flu jabs via a smart phone app, writes Lynne Mortimer

I've had my flu jab ? at Boots the Chemist.

Next thing you know, they'll be doing them at supermarkets... ah, they already do. Yes, it looks as if the only place you can't get a flu injection is at the garden centre (watch this space).

Also, I read you can have the vaccine delivered needle-free. I know what you're thinking and it does not require you to bend over. It's some sort of high-velocity jet that penetrates the skin. I don't mind needles but I know a few people who are really scared by them. Oddly, they are all men but I draw no conclusion from this because the numbers are too low to be scientifically relevant. And I wouldn't want to be accused of casual sexism.

Nostalgia is big business ? we are always being reminded how fantastic life was in the 50s, 60s and 70s ? but I have an inkling the good old days weren't always such fun.


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Casual sexism was the least of our worries. In a pub in Dundee in 1979, they wouldn't serve me at the bar because (well-spotted) I was a woman. I queried this house rule and was told it could not be waived just because I was from down south... but they would take my order as long as I then went and sat down at a table like a good girl. This was less than 40 years ago. I am not nostalgic about that.

Pop music was better... well, I sort of go along with that. Bearing in mind there are only a set number of notes available with which to compose music, I sometimes wonder if all the best combinations have already been used. The classical composers mopped up a lot of great tunes before pop even began.

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I won't lie. I knew smoking was bad for me in the 70s when I bought my first packet of Players no.10. But it seemed to fit with my hippie lifestyle in which I wore clothes from charity shops, went barefoot and bra-less all summer, sang folk songs and hung around with the youth drama group. We performed a dance drama to Albinoni's adagio for violin, strings and organ at Leiston Abbey. We were the flower children...

At the same time as I lived this social life of intellectual freedom and daisy chains, I was also leaving my clothes scattered on my bedroom floor and failing to help out at home. I had a part-time job in a local corner shop and was doing my O-levels. Summers of love? Only after school and at weekends.

Food choices were limited. I expect quinoa, black rice and spelt (spelt 'spelt') existed somewhere in the world but no-one had thought to eat them yet. My first ever evening meal in a restaurant was at a Berni Inn on my 18th birthday in 1973. Until then, Wimpy had been the summit of my dining-out experiences. I ate prawn cocktail, steak and chips, and Black Forest gateau accompanied by a schooner of sherry. I had arrived. It was essentially my coming out. No picture in society magazines, just a family snap on my Kodak Brownie.

I believe there are still debutantes but today it's more of a high school prom for rich kids.

Back in the 50s, the idea was that young women would be engaged by the end of the season. Flirting was okay but things could not go too far... I imagine that on a scale of one to 10, about six-and-a-half would conform to etiquette. Young men who attempted to up the ante to seven or about were blacklisted as NSIT (Not Safe in Taxis).

Taxis? I didn't take taxis but I knew young men who were NSOTB ? Not safe on the bus. Top deck, naturally.

On the other hand we were less wasteful. Food got eaten up and most of the things we bought in shops were either put in paper bags or wrapped in brown paper. People carried shopping bags or baskets. We had one dustbin, emptied weekly. Old newspapers went to the chip shop, garden waste was composted or burned on a bonfire (which couldn't be lit on Mondays because that was laundry day). Nothing came in polystyrene trays and ready meals were prepared by my mum and left with a note: 'Heat in oven for 20 minutes'.

But was I happier then? Well, I was younger, which was nice.

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