My favourite author, and source of at least 50% of my humour, the Late and very lamented Terry Pratchett, once envisaged what an ancient Mayfly might tell a young Mayfly about the good old days. The Mayfly lives for 24 hours so it was in fact the good old hours but the point is valid. Comments such as ‘You don’t get Sunrises like that these hours.’ were typical of this conversation.
This urge for older people to paint word pictures to younger humans of how great our youth was in comparison to theirs seems irresistible, as is theirs to zone out and think to themselves ‘He’s off again.’
I guess my ‘Good old days.’ were 1967-1988 and of course the music was better, the summers were longer and we had snow every winter. To the preceding generations the War years and just after would be theirs. Despite the deaths of a generation of young men and rationing, constant bombing and the threat of invasion, people still looked back fondly. On the plus side it was the last time that children shared their parents values. There was respect and close social ties. As with all nostalgia, music played a part.
For me the nostalgia of my parents was, like all nostalgia, looking at life then through rose tinted glasses. In fact it was a nasty brutish time. They look back on it fondly because they forgot their differences in light of the greater threat.
I wonder how the medieval peasant would describe his good old days. Depending on his place in time life would have been miserable. Religion was used as a tool to scare him into accepting his lowly station and long hours and dirty work would make is 40-50 year lifespan a nightmare. Then there was the constant threat of hell in the next life if he overstepped his bounds to complete the picture. Later things may have improved slightly but disease was rife and raising a family of children in which at least 2 or 3 would not survive childhood was another problem. But you can bet he still, in his late 20’s started telling his children how things were better in his day.
Victorian people were similarly afflicted with social, educational and work related problems. Medicine was still largely ineffective and the poor couldn’t afford it anyway. Life was still short and religion still acted as a control over the poor. As with our medieval friends, being rich meant a better life and the rich man’s nostalgia would probably consist of the peasants and poor being more deferential.
My good old days were those in which respect and politeness ruled. The internet is great but it has inevitably led to social changes. Education has been dumbed down and discipline is almost non existent. I could go on but I know that this is my personal view and that the generation growing up now will tune out as I waffle on about how great my days were. Inevitably, as they raise children, they will look back nostalgically on the days when people actually talked instead of these new computer implants making verbal communications redundant. Maybe they will look back on the days when their children did not meet well meant advice with verbal abuse. Or maybe things will swing back to old fashioned values. Who can tell? One thing you can be sure of is that anyone of middle age or more will, given a captive audience, take a deep breath and utter the dreaded words, verbally or otherwise,……’You know in my day………………….’.
The Monty Python boys take on ‘In my day…….’