As a human, I particularly enjoy the past time of ‘dwelling on things’. I’ve written before about my worries, about how I fear my children will grow up as dysfunctional members of society or some such thing.
My most recent pointless worry is the memories my children will have. Don’t get me wrong, we’re always hashtag making memories, it’s the age of social media – what parent worth their salt isn’t at least pretending to?!
I know my children will remember wonderful holidays and day trips taken (they bloody better do) but it’s the ‘smaller’ memories I fear they won’t have. The things that I, and others my age, fondly look back on that have been ‘improved’ by time and technology and now remain locked in the era we call ‘Retro’.
These are the memories that pretty much define our childhood but our kids will never understand.
The humble cassette brings with it a whole HOST of fond memories.
Recording the top 40 every Sunday evening with pause button skills that would create an almost seamless playlist if only it wasn’t for the infuriating DJ who INSISTED on talking to the lyrics on your favourite song – I’m looking at you Mark Goodier! Having no blank tapes so filling the little holes in an old cassette album that you no longer enjoy in order to record over it. Delicately removing the mangled tape from the mechanisms within the cassette player and then winding it back in with a pencil – our generation must have produced a LOT of steady handed surgeons. Using that very same pencil to rewind a cassette so you didn’t wear the batteries out on your Walkman – we’ve all been there.
Our kids will just remember being able to choose whatever they want to hear. They won’t have to endure that song they hate to ‘save batteries’ or play the fast forward/rewind game to try and get to the song they want. They can ‘skip track’ to their hearts content without wearing out batteries or snapping tape
They were EPIC.
There would be dancing in a circle to classics like ‘The Music Man’, ‘Superman’ and ‘The Chicken Song’ – All kinds of wrong.
There would be musical bumps and pass the parcel but there was only ever one winner. None of this ‘sweet in every layer, make sure everyone gets a turn’ rubbish. If you didn’t win you just sucked it up, no tears. The party buffet would comprise of sandwiches cut into triangles, cheese and pineapple on sticks, sausages on sticks, party rings, pink wafers and coconut mallows.
Today, the idea of entertaining at home is virtually unheard of. We pile off to the same soft play 29 times a year. The kids run wild for an hour then enjoy a buffet of anaemic looking pizza and sausage rolls. There is no food on a stick. The games begin and everyone gets a prize just for turning up. All the parties are the same and won’t be memorable.
We had four channels and most of those finished at midnight. Kids TV was resigned to Saturday morning before the sport and weekday evenings between 3.30 and 5. If you were lucky enough to have a portable TV in your room there was the battle of the signal. You’d spend good 15 minutes twiddling aerial on the top and little dials on the side to finely tune in the channel you wanted to watch – the minute you step away the picture would go fuzzy so you would watch at a jaunty angle. If you were lucky enough to get the channel spot on, you could be sure that the next programme you want to watch would be on a different channel and you’ll have to go through the rigmarole all over again.
The age of analogue also meant there was no fast forwarding the adverts or pausing the show, you watched while it was on. The adverts were the three minutes within which you were to do everything you needed to do. In most households the adverts ran with military precision. Everyone would have a role and an assigned time.
You go to the loo, I’ll fill the kettle and put it on then I’ll go to the loo while you finish the brew – You grab the biscuits.
Everyone is back in time for part two!
Kids today don’t know of the pain of having to actually sit through a crap TV show like M.A.S.K whilst waiting for Trap Door or Duckula to start. They can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. Where’s the fun and anticipation in that? They won’t even have Knightmare to look back on.
Teletext was amazing, like the internet but available to anyone with a remote control. You had a world of information at your fingertips (providing you only required updates every 24 hours and weren’t in a hurry), simply type in the three numbers and watch as weather, news, holidays and even dating ads appeared before your eyes. You’d have to read fast though as if you missed something you might have to sit through 27 pages before you saw it again.
As if holidays and potential love interests wasn’t quite enough, Teletext gave us the joy that was Bamboozle. THIS is what those random coloured buttons on your remote were made for. Bamber was your question master, posing 12 multiple choice questions which would update daily. Hours minutes of fun for everyone, it was revolutionary!
Our children have all this information without even less than the touch of a button now. They can just ask Alexa or yell ‘OK Google’ within the vicinity of a smartphone. Information is updated in real time and there’s no sitting through pages of rubbish waiting for the bit they want to read. In fact, if they’re forced to wait more than twelve seconds for something to happen they get tetchy.
Children today will never understand the hardship of having to conduct a phone call whilst attached to the wall with your dad tapping his watch or having to wait two weeks to see your how a photo turned out!
I appreciate that things change over time, and some things do need improving. I’m just concerned that with all this streamlining of life, we’ve forgotten to leave those little things that they can reminisce fondly about. Saying that, I’d be pretty pissed off if I had to go back to dial up internet.