View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Things we get used to

Carlene wrote a thought-provoking post this morning, about the things we get used to. She describes how happy she was in the early 70s, in spite of having so little money. So what things am I taking for granted that weren't around in the 70s?

Well, in the 70s, I was a youngster at school. We did not have TV in the house, and it did not make an appearance until 1980. So we had this valve-radio, tuned into radio plays and the news. It kept us occupied on dark winter's nights. I am one of three siblings, and we'd play card games, board games, you name it. Mum and dad read books to us, or we would go to the library and come back with stacks of books to read ourselves. We had a record-player, on which a limited collection of 33 or 45 rpm vinyl records would be played. You first had to plug the player into the radio with a DIN-standard connector. Personal computers? We had barely heard of computers; my uncle worked for IBM and he had to process those cards with holes punched into them. A far cry from the 32 GB flashdrives I see for sale in the shops these days. My dad did not own a car, as his office was only a mile and a half down the road, so he jumped on his pushbike for 38 years. Going on holiday meant jumping on the train for a couple of hours, then on the ferry for 2 more hours and be in a holiday cottage in the dunes by the seaside. No radio there at all. Gathering pine cones to fire the heater. And going to the toilet in a separate toilet block, outside. Our holiday was at Easter, so it was freezing at night. Foreign holidays did not commence until we were all at secondary school (high school) in the mid 70s.

I sometimes marvel at the things that are almost deemed compulsory. Like this machine that I spend so (too?) much time on. Music centres, compact discs, DVDs, televisions, laptops, desktops, palmtops, internet capable mobiles (that's what I call a waste of money). Christmas is 4 weeks away, and the adverts make me reach for the anti-emetics already. Why is it necessary to spend hundreds of pounds or dollars or euros on Christmas presents? Won't something less expensive not do the job as well? I have seen small kids nearly drowning in toys; I am a Tom and Jerry fanatic, so the kiddies channel that they appear on also showers me with toy adverts. Toys that kids, I'm sure, are bored with within one minute flat. I did not have acres of floorspace taken up with toys when I was little. But I was quite happy and content with the likes of Lego, that I did not abandon until well into my teens.

Money cannot buy you happiness. It sure makes life easier if you have more of it. Possessions do not make you happy per se, although, again, they can make life easier. You can be quite happy yet be as poor as a church mouse, like Carlene was when she married Danny. And you can be as rich as Solomon, yet be as miserable as anything.


  1. Kids are missing so much now days. I don't remember ever being bored without all those fancy toys.

  2. That is a thought provoking for sure. Happiness comes with being content with what we have and where we are in life I think.

  3. I think we all spend way too much on toys and conveniences. I'm guilty of it. We are truly spoiled and blessed.

  4. Your childhood sounds much like mine Guido although I am older than you. I used to get one present and a stocking with an orange, some chocolate money and crayons and a colouring book or the like.

    The boys love lego and that is what Mike and I are buying them for Christmas as they never tire of it.

  5. Well Guido, although I am a bitty older than you as most my childhood was in the 50s ! I agree that we certainly didn't have all the material things that children have nowadays..I sometimes wonder if the Mum's and Dad's of today are somehow or other trying to compensate for not being around with their children...probably not even conciously...
    Love Sybil x

  6. Money may can make life easier, but it alone cannot bring happiness. People, times and places lend us happiness. Contentment is an element we can only draw from within ourselves.

  7. Our childhoods were very similar with listening to records, radio, and reading books aloud to each other,Guido and took place at the same time, though mine was in Appalachia. These things deepened me so much and I am grateful for them. We did not own a car until I was 15.
    Dirk and I didn't even have a bed when we married. Just an inflatable mattress,sofa cushions, and a tv set. My how we have grown, in possessions and as a couple.
    Money cannot buy those early experiences.
    People's attempt to buy their children all the things that they didn't get are not doing them any favors.

  8. Dear Guido,
    what a moving post!
    Yeah you know most of us with common sense and agreat love for our kids, God, and anture to name a few, resist that strange move on the part of the world to "silence the kids" into all of those unending computer games and no toys that bring out your imagination!
    I love how your household ran! just one thing..the potty outside: I remember those and those are so cold!

  9. This was a great post, Guido! I might have to do one on the same subject. You and I are about the same age, so a lot of what you write about was the same for me.

  10. We did have a TV growing up...but not a color one. And the channels were limited. We did not spend much time watching it, though. We were outside playing ALL the time. My son thinks I lived in the dark ages because I remember when the Microwave Oven was introduced. LOL!