8 January 2014

Running

When you can look back over half a century, you notice many changes. Of course there are the obvious things. My family's first television boasted two rather primitive channels - both in fuzzy black and white. I can remember when it arrived though I am still grateful that the first six or seven years of my life were spent in a largely peaceful, television-free home. Today television is sharp, colourful and clear. Programmes are slick and professional - even though you may not like many of them. And there's so much choice.

Then there's the often mentioned computer technology and air travel. Both have changed the way we see the world and how we communicate.

And I can recall the very first supermarket that opened in East Yorkshire - the "Savemore Stores" near King Billy's golden statue in Hull's old town. Our family began to go there every week. My mother always loved a bargain - probably because she herself was raised in poverty close to the coal mine where her grandfather worked. That first supermarket was a rough old place with narrow aisles you had to squeeze down and boxes piled high. Today's supermarket palaces appear to have been designed by space scientists, interior designers and logistics gurus, working in tandem to squeeze as much profit out of shoppers as possible.

Nowadays running and jogging are very common. There's a whole industry devoted to this rather bizarre activity. You see runners puffing along in parks and suburban streets or rural lanes. Frequently, while I am plodding in the countryside admiring the view, runners in fluorescent vests will whizz by me. But when I was a boy nobody went running - apart from dedicated athletes at running tracks or schoolchildren on obligatory cross country runs. The idea of running as a leisure or fitness pursuit for ordinary people was out of the question. So canal tow paths, public footpaths, village or suburban streets were all runner and jogger-free zones.

Today we have sports shops - sometimes of warehouse proportions - stocked with a whole array of sports shoes - what we English call "trainers". But as I recall, in the early sixties there simply weren't any "trainers". The few people who did take up running would wear special "spikes" and for PE lessons children would wear canvas plimsolls or "sand shoes". It was only towards the end of the sixties that shoes resembling modern trainers began to appear. I can still recall my first, second-hand pair. They were light blue "Adidas" shoes with white stripes down the side but I didn't wear them for running, they were for teenage coolness. "What are you wearing them again for?" my exasperated mother would demand to know.

So there we have it. A sixty year old old phart observing the passage of time and some of the changes he has seen. And isn't it interesting how birds of a feather flock together - so that blogs like this one or "Helsie's Happenings" or "Going Gently" or "Adrian's Images" or "Rhymes With Plague" tend to attract senior visitors? I am not sure why this should be as none of us put up barriers to warn off teenagers or twenty-somethings. Perhaps we have bored them away. But what I really wanted to learn about was some of the changes you have noticed - perhaps less obvious ones like the running phenomenon I have highlighted above

18 comments:

  1. From a wall telephone on a rural party line where an operator connected you to your "party" to now most folks not even having a land line preferring only cell phones.

    My home had an "ice box" until I was 10 or so and then the ice man stopped delivering ice every week and after a few years of putting the food on the sill in winter and in the dirt basement in summer, we finally got a proper refrigerator.

    Teachers dressed pretty much like our mother on a Sunday. But they did it every day. Students did not call them by their first names. Young ladies had to wear dresses or skirts when I entered college. The next year the administration allowed us to wear pants as long as we had a trench coat over the pants. Of course, rebel that I was....I wore the pants with the trench coat and nothing else!

    When I first started working at the University of Denver....in 1994...the first of the networking of computers was just beginning. By the time I retired eight years ago, my PhD and Master's students no longer had to submit a hard copy of thesis or dissertations. All done on-line! Amazing!

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    1. Thank you for your interesting contribution Wild Mountain Thyme! Now my imagination is going into overdrive as I picture you in JUST pants and trenchcoat. In England "pants" are what Americans call "panties". And what you call "pants" we call "trousers"! I liked the idea of an "ice man" delivering ice each week. Before refrigerators, a lot of English people kept their food cool in their cellars.

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  2. Like tuning forks we find things that resonate in a similar frequency. I wandered in here and have lurked for a while. I do enjoy your thoughts and your sense of weirdness. This is coming from another fresh phart in her sixties.

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    1. Leenie, YP's photos long to be painted, don't you think?

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    2. Thank you for calling by Leenie. We are just youngsters compared with Madam Blawat . (Ooops - sorry Jan!)

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  3. I am by no means as old as you Yorky, but I can identify with your running memories ~ I had a pair of blue Adidas running spikes with white stripes that my Dad took me to buy ~ I felt so special, and it was a real status symbol to graduate to spikes at athletics club on a Friday night. Oh to get those innocent carefree Friday nights back ~ magic! Thank you for taking me back there.

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    1. Carol I am glad this post stirred a special memory in you of those Friday nights and your dad. But what's this about "I am by no means as old as you Yorky". Smell the coffee Carol - fifty is ancient too. Sorry!

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  4. I think you are showing off here. This old fart has trouble remembering what happened yesterday never mind what happened a year or fifty years ago. I have a Post-It note on my computer with my name on. It saves a good ten minutes of indecision every morning.
    Who am I, where am I and what the hell am I doing here?

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    1. I can see how you'd have difficulty with the last two parts of the question Adrian as you are a raggle taggle gipsy - twenty first century style in your monstrous camper van. You never know where you'll be. Do you have a big gold earring and a violin?

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    2. No earring but I do have a flute which my arthritic fingers can no longer play very quickly.

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  5. There were plenty of runners and steeple chasers from the working class in Sheffield. Certainly as many who ran than played organised sport such as football and cricket even though it wasn't a consumer industry for the middle classes as it is now.

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    1. disv202 - I know what you mean but they'd be like the Hallamshire Harriers - running on club nights etc. They wouldn't be donning i-pods or fluorescent vests and they wouldn't be wearing flashy German trainers.

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  6. I remember when chemists stocked everything a budding pyromaniac needed to blow up his bedroom, chemistry sets with really dangerous experiments, being given a packet of sandwiches after breakfast before being booted out the door with instructions not to come back until supper time, calling teachers, policeman and any other adult 'Sir', concrete pud with green custard, milk arriving on the doorstep in bottles, itinerant odd job men who could fix or sharpen anything, coal deliveries, Meccano, Sunday afternoon family walks, Sunday night is Music Night (remember Sing Something Simple on the radio?), good, wholesome family entertainment. The list is endless!

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    1. Evocative memories Tom and as these features faded away, we hardly noticed their passing. But it was another world.

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  7. I seem to recall, when I was in high school in the 60s, there was a craze for 50 mile walks. My brother did those things wearing canvas "tennis" shoes.

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    1. Fifty miles - that's a long walk in inappropriate footwear in the California heat. In England we also knew "tennis shoes" mostly made by the Dunlop company.

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  8. I still have a pair of adidas trainers that were bought for me around 1985 (when I was 17 years old), and they still look really good. I must admit I have running shoes that seem to be made for me; I was very well advised before I bought them, and so I can afford to wear the vintage adidas ones only for coolness but not for running.
    In my teens, we had no mobile phones, no CDs and no internet. The music TV industry was just emerging, and those were exciting times; we loved watching the clips of our favourite pop songs over and over again. Research for school and other tasks was still done by going to the library and getting big fat books from the shelves, not by "googling" (the word didn't even exist then).
    Were they better days? I don't know. I think each generation gets the impression that things were better in the past, somehow. We do have many more choices today (not only in terms of TV channels), but we certainly do not always choose wisely.

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  9. I must be older than the lot of you then. My memories are of my Maternal Grandfather's huge valve radio which was powered by an accumulator (like an old lead acid car battery) which was collected and replaced every so often. Their large old house was still lit by gas lamps and chandeliers. Their vacuum cleaner needed two people (one to pump and one to operate the hose). 'The Cellar' under their house had more rooms than my cottage here in NZ. It was a vast and scary place for a pre-school age nipper. A meat cellar, cheese cellar, wine cellar and a vast washing cellar where the weekly washes would be done. In the days before I was born when they had a housekeeper it must have been a dank and steamy place on washday.

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