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What Life Was Like In The 1950s ..
It will be hard for young people today to understand what life was like in the 1950s.
A time before supermarkets and shopping malls, when TV was a novelty, fish and chips were the only takeaway, no mobile phones and house phones were not for ordinary people.
Shops closed for an hour at lunchtime, every Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.
At weekends only parks and churches were open.

Wives needed a husband’s signature not just to enter into contracts, but also on permission forms for surgery.
The law offered little protection against wife beaters, and single women were often despised and derided.

A typical day for a housewife entailed cooking breakfast, packing lunch, cleaning out and laying the open fire, dusting, sweeping, polishing, laundry (no washing machine) and making the beds with underblanket, undersheet, bottom sheet, top sheet, woollen blankets, eiderdown, quilt and bedspread.
She would then trudge from shop to shop carrying an increasingly heavy basket.
Later, as women’s magazines advised, she was supposed to greet her husband with a delicious dinner.
Bathed, perfumed and dressed in smart, clean clothes, she would be all ready to listen to the story of his day.

The good old days?

Rot And Mildew And Dead Citizens ..
In 1850s Clerkenwell, London, Charles Dickens heard the frightened cries of women as a mad bull bolted along St John Street and came to rest in the back parlour of a tripe shop.
Nearby, in Smithfield Market, the ground was so churned up with animal dung that policemen wore thigh-high fishermen’s boots.
In the 1840s, 20,000 tons of animal excrement was cleared per year between Piccadilly and Oxford Circus.
Social investigator Henry Mayhew reports the ‘sickening stench’ coming from the knackers’ yards where up to 1,000 horses would be slaughtered weekly.
It was as nothing to the Great Stink of 1858, when the smell from the Thames riverbed, putrid and fermenting in temperatures of 33c, became overpowering.
Parliament itself began to choke and drove through legislation on a city-wide sewer project.
But proper sanitation came too late for those wiped out by cholera and other fevers.
The city’s crypts, according to Dickens, smelt of ‘rot and mildew and dead citizens’.
The poor were, naturally, the most vulnerable to disease.
Between 1830 and 1850 the city’s population ballooned by one million, putting a strain on transport, food distribution and, most seriously, housing.
Fear and moralistic fervour induced the Government to pass the Poor Laws, which drove the destitute into the workhouse.
Slum clearances simply dispersed the poor to adjacent neighbourhoods, which in turn became slums through over-crowding and inadequate sanitation.
An alley off Farringdon Street, circa 1860, had one privy to service 400 occupants.
( Anthony Quinn )

Britain Has A Culture Of Drinking Going Back Centuries ..
It begins with ale – Shakespeare’s barley broth – with every medieval village containing its own ale house.
Then, in the 1400s, the Dutch introduced us to beer – and the British necked it down.
After beer came porter (a sweet dark beer) and then, in the 1700s, the dreaded Mother’s Ruin.
The gin craze swept Britain and, by the 1740s, we were drinking 19 million gallons of the spirit – some 10 times as much as today, by a population 10 times smaller.

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
( G.K. Chesterton )

Gin! Gin! A glass of Gin!
What magnificent monsters circle therein!
Ragged and stained with filth and mud,
Some plague-spotted, and some with blood,
Shapes of misery, shame and sin!
( Punch magazine )

The tavern is worshipped rather than the church, gluttony and drunkenness is more abundant than tears and prayers.
( The Archbishop of Canterbury, 1362 )

Justin Bieber Deserves Credit ..
Anne Frank is, and always will be, the most famous victim of the Holocaust.
She is not a statistic.
Anyone who reads her diary, written between the ages of 13 and 15, has no trouble recognising her as a real little girl, a growing teenager – a young person with all her life ahead of her.
The brutal fact that her life was obliterated by the mass murder of the Nazis gives her diary a power that never fades with time.
The horror of the Holocaust is so huge, so unimaginable, that the human mind struggles to comprehend it.
Anne Frank helps us to understand.

Unlike those unknown millions who died in the gas chambers, Anne is a real individual to us, and in her personal tragedy we glimpse the tragedy of millions.
Justin Bieber deserves credit for visiting the Anne Frank House, for having that curiosity, that hunger to learn, for not spending that hour being serviced by flunkies in endless luxury. Good on you, Justin.
I think he made the connection to Anne Frank that anyone with a head and a heart will make when hearing her story. He has raised awareness.
Countless kids will read the Anne Frank diary simply because Justin Bieber brought her to their attention.
Anne Frank said:  “Despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart.”
That’s certainly true of young Justin Bieber.
In his own clumsy way, he just educated an entire generation about the Holocaust.
( Tony Parsons, 20.04.2013 )

We’ve Become A Consumer Society ..
There are never any golden ages, but at one time Britain did have a great empire and we were the first industrial nation.
That transformed everything, our identities, social life, work, everything.

We’ve become a consumer society, in an all-pervasive way.
We’ve lost control of our national destiny through the power of international capitalism.
You’ve only got to look at the banking crisis to see democracies are powerless, and it’s getting worse.

( Michael Wood, September 2012 )

Moral Leadership ..
The eyes of the world are turning to Great Britain.
We now have the moral leadership of the world, and before many years are over we shall have people coming here as to a modern Mecca, learning from us in the twentieth century as they learned from us in the seventeenth.

( Aneurin Bevan, Labour Minister of Health, July 4, 1948 )

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