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Old 27th Jul 2003, 05:54   #1 (permalink)
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Life Now Compared with 50 Years Ago

Hi All.

I'm not sure if this has been covered on the Tony Martin Thread(s) but apparantly he has said that he would rather live in the 1950's. That seems to be the benchmark that many people are using as well as when "life was good" so i was wondering if thos ppruner's who dont mind admitting their age would care to confirm if it was better?

as far as i know, life today is much better - cleaner air, better treatment of disease, more food and more leisure time. However at the cost of an increase in crime, transport problems, and a lowering in standards of healthcare (apparantly - it seems like they've always been the same to me)

Your Views?

Old 29th Jul 2003, 03:11   #2 (permalink)
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Looking back that far is always difficult and memories become a bit selective. For what it is worth (I was six years old in 1950) I seem to remember that life was less frenetic and kids were perfectly happy making their own amusements without having to vandalise something.

It seemed a safer environment for kids - they could play out all day without anyone worrying about where they were or who they might be with. Much less traffic on the roads.

I think food was healthier in some ways. Not so much variety but virtually no junk food or pre-packaged, pre-digested convenience foods. I can remember rationing coming to an end (1953??). In many ways we were healthier, not so wrapped in cotton wool as kids are now. Mind you, my father's opinion was that if you survived the first 5 years of life you must be immune to most of the diseases known to man! Guess that's me then. Then there was the fresh air and exercise. No TV, computers (or PPRuNe), games consoles. "Go out and play". And we did.

School. Not such a broad curriculum as now but boy did you learn what was on offer. Or else! Discipline was better I think.

Transport. Say what you like about steam trains, they never repeat NEVER suffered from leaves on the line, nor from diddly little bits of snow. Speaking of which we had better winters as well. When it snowed it snowed. Not this pansy dribbly sleet stuff for half a day.

Pollution was worse though.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 03:24   #3 (permalink)
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I remember my father got offered a job in the States (brain drain was going strong, he didn't take it) and we were going to have to cross the Atlantic on a liner and it would have taken days!

Nowadays it takes longer to get from Picadilly Circus to the hold-short line at LHR than it does to get from the hold-short line to the US. Not so coming back, I seem to spend most of the time in a hold over Kent.

Far too easy to travel now, bloody Australians are everywhere
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 03:44   #4 (permalink)
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Healthcare has improved significantly as medical science has moved on. Its delivery in this country, however, has got much worse.

In the '50s the NHS was a new thing, people saw free healthcare a a priviledge; they felt lucky that it was available for them should they need it, free at the point of need, paid for by the government from taxation. They therefore didn't abuse the system, so the model worked.

These days the NHS still provides treatment free at the point of need. However as medical science has got more advanced, the cost of providing the latest medical treatment has sky-rocketed.

At the same time people have become accustomed to treating healthcare as a right rather than a priviledge. The fact that the NHS is still there, attempting to deliver ever-more expensive healthcare on a centrally-controlled budget at no cost to the end user, means that treatment simply goes to those who can shout the loudest, and a whole host of timewasters abuse the system.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 03:57   #5 (permalink)
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How has healthcare improved significantly since the 50s? I'm just wondering what you think to be the great medical advances during the last 50 years.

The latter part of your post is pretty accurate, the social support function of the NHS has become very significant, from what I have heard from all my mates who regret not getting out

Last edited by slim_slag; 29th Jul 2003 at 04:12.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 04:50   #6 (permalink)

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Say what you like about steam trains, they never repeat NEVER suffered from leaves on the line, nor from diddly little bits of snow.
The difference is that the railways employed an army of people to maintain their 'own' sections of track. Plus sparks from the engines would burn off vegetation.

I don't see what can be so great about a decade with such crap clothes, music, television and housing.

When the NHS was conceived, they honestly thought that free healthcare for all would ultimately result in the elimination of disease! Seems pretty naive now!

National insurance and the state pension was a balls-up from day one. What pension fund would start paying out pensions before it had accrued any funds? That's cost us big time.

I was a child of the seventies - I don't think things were that much different for us than it was twenty years earlier. Kids not playing outside etc. is a fairly recent phenomenon. Traffic seems to have increased dramatically just in the 12 years I have been driving - it's got to be a worry when your kids are playing outside, not to mention the odd bit of child-molester hysteria that gets whipped up every so often.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 04:55   #7 (permalink)
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What I mean is that medical science is much more advanced than it was - many more conditions are cureable than were in the fifties, and of those not completely cureable, the life expectancy and outlook for patients is much better.

Just editing as I now see you;ve asked me a direct question. Medical advances since the fifties... Organ Transplantation is a big one. There are many more.

Last edited by foghorn; 29th Jul 2003 at 06:44.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 06:40   #8 (permalink)
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True. The railway used to be the biggest employer in the UK - the NHS is now.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 06:56   #9 (permalink)
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Conscription, the Korean War, London pea-soupers with hundreds dying in the smog, the BBC and..errr....the BBC, petrol rationing, average car costing a year's pay.

Roll on the 60s.........................
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 07:53   #10 (permalink)
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Nostalgia for the 1950s?

There was a housing shortage with many people, including relatives of mine, living in ex military Nissen huts. Central heating was almost unknown, and there were frequent fuel shortages. Few people had cars or telephones, and although we had a television, about 25 neighbours came in to watch the Coronation, since they had not. The BBC monopoly provided stilted patronising black and white rubbish. Cut-glass accents were mandatory for broadcasters.

Only basic foods were available and there was rationing well into the 1950s. Going to a restaurant was almost unknown. Most people spent their 2 week holiday with relatives, but Butlins and the like started to develop.

Anyone who thinks healthcare was better then should have attended a 1950s dentist as I did, or had a gash stitched without any attempt at anaesthesia by a nurse straight out of the SS.

The class system lingered on and forelock-tugging deference was still common. All fit young men were conscripted into the forces where most of them spent two years of utter boredom; the others were able to risk their lives in the plentiful colonial wars, not to mention Korea.

Travel by air was only for the wealthy, and was notably dangerous. Airliners were developments of WWII types.

Nostalgia my arse. The British are better paid, housed, dressed and fed than ever before. Todays poor are vastly better off than the hard working family of the 1950s. People are free to make choices as never before.

Some people screw up the choices, and choose drugs and crime. It doesn't invalidate all of the other progress that has been made.

Martin is a vindictive and stupid man who was lucky to have his sentence reduced because of 'diminished responsibility'. He might have been hung in the 1950s.

Some people, and I include many of my fellow Englishmen, don't know when they are well off. In my local on a Saturday people who have half-million pound houses and who drive thirty thousand pound cars have the cheek to moan about how awful life is and how they want to emigrate.

Bah Humbug!
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 09:20   #11 (permalink)

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I think the big difference between then and now must be the speed of information and television, as well as the mobility of people.

When people were talking about the Korean war, it was happening somewhere far far away and didn't really come into our living room. I remember everyone still living with the vivid memory of WW2 and since I was living in Continental Europe, we all expected the Russians to come West anyday. I seem to recall that we were encouraged to to be thrifty but savour every day while we had peace. The Atom bomb was certainly a terrifying prospect, because we were certain that if the Russians were coming westwards the "Amis" were going to drop the "A" bomb on them, not withstanding the fact that we were living in the neighborhood and would get vaporized as well.

But I also remember a lot of good and innocent times, of closer family connections and real Christmases.

and i guess there will be a time in the future when I will look back fondly to the days in 2003 when I was driving a 737-2 (fluf) with analog gauges and an SP77 etc. etc.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 09:50   #12 (permalink)
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I agree Tony Martin might have been hanged in the 1950s. Thank God we've moved on from those days. It would have been a gross miscarriage of justice. Just one example off the top of my head, Bentley was convicted in 1953. Sadly, the discovery that it was a miscarriage of justice came a little late for him - he'd been hanged more than 40 years earlier.
I know you and I have been down this road before, but I'm still puzzled why you persist in claiming Mr Martin was 'lucky'. He didn't have his sentence reduced because of 'diminished responsibility'; his murder conviction was quashed. A conviction for manslaugher was substituted and he was given five years imprisonment for that less serious offence.
The Court of Appeal doesn't quash convictions unless there's a good reason. It's not a fresh start; the accused starts off with the disadvantage that he is presumed to have been rightly convicted. The burden is on his lawyers to show that he wasn't. If they can't, the conviction stands.

Re the rest of your post.
I was alive in the 50's but too young to know or remember anything about what life was like. I have no doubt whatsoever you're right that things have improved significantly for the vast majority of the population, but are we better people for it? I'm convinced we are not.

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Old 29th Jul 2003, 13:45   #13 (permalink)
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50 years ago we were lucky enough to fly big round engine pistons, now we are forced to fly jets. Nothing like the sound of 28 or more cylinders firing properly

auld lang syne
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 16:06   #14 (permalink)
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The legal process is of course as you describe it, but the bottom line is that a life sentence finished up as a five year sentence and diminished responsibility was the driver of that. Of course I was over simplifying, but isn't that what has happened to the whole argument about Martin? Twelve ordinary citizens, addressed by two senior counsel, and guided by a judge, heard all of the available facts and cvonvicted him of murder. That will do me. The appeal process was based on Martin's state, not on the original facts of the case.

The instincts of the mob, which at the moment firmly supports Martin, are almost invariably wrong and vicious. Just for the record, shall we remind ourselves of what happened that night:-

(From The Times)

(Edited for brevity)

TONY MARTIN ... had suffered repeated break-ins and such was his fear and detestation of burglars that he had barred doors and windows to his house, booby-trapped the staircase by removing the top and bottom three steps, and turned the roofs of outbuildings into look-out posts.

He had told friends that the best way to deal with burglars was to shoot them...

Fearon and Barras .... opened a groundfloor window and clambered into the hall. Using torchlight, they found their way to a large breakfast room where they started filling a bag with silver valuables.

While they were downstairs Martin reached under his bed for an illegally held Winchester pumpaction 12-bore shotgun.

Fearon was intent on emptying a dresser of valuables when he realised someone was coming down the stairs. He shone the torch at the staircase and saw Martin.

Moments later the farmer fired the first of three shots at the burglars. It struck Barras in the back from a range of 12ft. “He’s got me!” the dying teenager screamed.

Fearon tried frantically to open a window but before he was able to scramble through it, having wrenched the entire window from its frame, two more shots were fired, one hitting him in the left leg and the other catching his right leg.

Martin always maintained that the shots were fired in fear from the stairway but experts said that analysis showed the gun was fired from the breakfast room doorway or further inside as he advanced.

Barras followed his companion through the window and crawled a few yards into undergrowth before he collapsed. Fearon staggered to another farm where the alarm was raised. He did not tell police about Barras, whose body was found the following afternoon. "

By the way, I was born in 1946, so my memories of the 1950s are youthful ones, but I have since read a bit of history.

I share your reservations about the use to which we have put all of the advances of the last half-century, but the 1950s weren't really like the Hovis ads, I seem to recall. Most people woud have yearned for the quqlity of life we enjoy these days.

Last edited by Unwell_Raptor; 29th Jul 2003 at 18:12.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 16:28   #15 (permalink)
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Nostalgia's not what it used to be...................
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 18:18   #16 (permalink)
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I don't want to risk spoiling this thread. Entirely my fault, not yours; I should have let your original comment about Mr Martin's case go.
Let's meet on Inept or deliberate?

Back to the subject of this thread ...........

Do you think we're better people now than in the 50's?
Has the relaxing of traditional moral values produced a better society in which to live?
Is the sweeping away of 'traditional' family values a good thing?
Do we bring our children up better?
Do we teach our children the meaning of duties and obligations as well as teaching them their 'rights'?

(All questions are general - there'll always be exceptions, and there'll always be criminals.)
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 19:20   #17 (permalink)
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Crikey; that’s a pretty broad sweep of questions, but I’ll have a go.

Is the sweeping away of 'traditional' family values a good thing?
This, I suggest, is the most important of the questions. There is no doubt that the traditional family is in decline, for a myriad of reasons, and that the principal victims of that decline are children. The experience of centuries is that the best way to bring up secure and balanced children is in a family with a mummy and a daddy who love nurture and guide the children. That kind of family will soon be in a minority and that fact makes it likely that there will be more insecurity. That insecurity will lead to unhappiness and may well lead to antisocial behaviour. You and I have both read many pre-sentence reports on offenders and there is a pattern in so many of them of a chaotic childhood leading to poor education, drugs, and crime.

As for bringing our children up better, I think that some children have superb opportunities these days, but I am disturbed at the near collapse of state education in some areas. I was amazed to read that in the days when I had just graduated 70% of Oxbridge entrants were from state schools. Now the figure is nearer 50%. That is a betrayal of our young people which started in the teacher training colleges in the mid-sixties.

It may be the case that for some of the reasons above, many children have a confused view of rights and responsibilities.

Has the relaxing of traditional moral values produced a better society in which to live?

In some ways it has. The old moral straitjacket in which divorcees, ‘fallen’ women, homosexuals and the like were despised may have been based on moral principles but was the cause of much cruelty. People borrowed Christian strictures on immorality but overlooked the warning about casting the first stone. I know of a family who, motivated by shame, sent their daughter away to a convent to have her child – their grandchild – after she ‘got into trouble’. The child was taken away for adoption after a birth attended only by strangers. I think that was cruel, and I don’t think that it would happen nowadays. After all, the Taleban have traditional moral values, but I would doubt that they produce a better society in which to live.

Having said that, there is of course a price to pay for the loss of moral certainties. It is a personal matter whether that price is worth paying.

Do we bring our children up better?

Some of us do, some do not.

Do you think we're better people now than in the 50's?

I’m not sure what that means. Our society has great achievements, and I am proud to be a 21st century Briton. I am saddened by the coarsening of our public life, and by the way in which Gresham’s Law has proved to apply to more than bad money driving out good. Bad journalism, bad television, bad politics, all drive out the good. But isn’t that a product of a free democratic society? People must have the right to choose crap if that is what they want. There is much quiet good done by good people. Just as most planes don’t crash, most people don't ccommit offences, but lead quiet ordinary happy lives (especially outside the cities), help their neighbours, and do a million kindnesses each day.

I am 56 – firmly into middle age. I imagine you are not too far off middle age yourself. So it is natural that we are disturbed by the less savoury trends in society. But I am basically an optimist, which is why I wrote what I did about the 1950s.

Have a nice day.
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Old 29th Jul 2003, 19:41   #18 (permalink)
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Hard questions. Were there good things then? yes there were, but there were also many which were facades on brutality, callousness and discrimination.

Children being taken from their families, then shipped to Australia. The mentally impaired being stuck in council homes and used as cheap labour in laundries. The high moral tone over pregnancy leading to the rife availability of back street abortionists and the subsequent death toll. The stigmatisation of illegitimacy. Widespread racial and sexual discrimination. Homosexuals living their entire lives in fear of exposure and ruin.

I'm not sure if we are better or worse. Certainly we are more open and fewer things are hidden.

My test would have to be, would I like the good things back if it meant the all the rest coming back with it; and I have to say I wouldn't.
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Old 30th Jul 2003, 02:57   #19 (permalink)

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I was a small child in the 1950s. But not too young to understand some things, and to recognise others. My best friend clammed up when asked where her father was, to the extent that it wasn't until our thirties that I dared ask her again. Her parents were divorced, her sister had been ostrasised at school when the other kids found out, and she was terrified of anyone knowing. Family values, eh?

This same friend's mother worked at the BBC and they had a housekeeper. She was my idol/role model for years, though she didn't know it. She was smart and sophisticated and had this interesting sounding job; everyone else's mothers wore shirtwaisters and stayed at home. I wanted to run away to sea, discovered that girls couldn't do that, among lots of other things they couldn't do, and I dreaded growing up.

In good weather we lived outside, and ran wild, with loads of freedom. But that was until rumours started of a child molester, and we had to come home and stay there. He turned out to be a nice old guy who just liked talking to kids...but fear of paedophiles is not new.

In bad weather we stayed in, and got bored. "I've got nothing to do" was the kids' school holiday refrain. Sure, we read books...but that was all there was...and most of our mothers didn't drive, so couldn't take us anywhere. We had a TV, but that was extremely unusual. And there was only one channel (later two) and not much on it anyway, and it was black and white and fuzzy and reception was often horrible. I got good at hitting TVs till they worked, at an early age.

By the late 50s/early 60s I was a teenager. I remember a couple of friends getting pregnant. Both were forced into getting married...shotgun wedding is a term that has thankfully died out. I know one marriage didn't last; I went to the other wedding, and even at the reception the groom looked utterly miserable. Family values?

Now may not be perfect...but it's better than 50 years ago. Unless you insist on looking at your childhood through rose-coloured spectacles.
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Old 30th Jul 2003, 06:20   #20 (permalink)
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Some things were better in the 50's.

My age was better, and my parents were alive.

Taking the early fifties, they were much as others have described, that is not much to recommend except the war was over.

The later fifties showed some of the improvement which eventually led to the swinging sixties with its personal freedom, the space age and the pill. The EEC just six countries.

But the cold war was then in full swing, Hungary and Czechoslovakia under the communist boot.

Science and technology have definately continued to improve things since then, its a pity politics hasn't kept up.
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