“They stuck parking meters outside our doors to greet us”

I bet there’s a few who recognise that line?
Not a very outdoors, title....
But in light of recent events, and hearing that particular tune on the radio recently, prompted me to reminisce.
For those of you from my generation, and older, it’s from the Max Bygraves 1960’s hit:
"Fings Ain't What They Used T' Be"
In the 50th anniversary year of The Summer of Love, 1967, and to take the Beatles hit: “It’s Getting Better All The Time”, from The Beatles album “Sergeant Pepper”, released July 1967, are things really better!
You need to read the words to that song carefully.
For those who wish to read the lyrics to the Max Bygraves, and The Beatles songs, I’ve included them at the end.
Ken Loach, made a docu-film, called “Cathy Come Home”, about the housing and social problems of the sixties. Some of those problems are still prevalent today!
We live in an ever changing, and evolving world today, a world that seems to hold a lot of nasties, as well as niceties, though you’d be forgiven for thinking the former was more the case today.
London circa mid 1960's
We need to change, we need to evolve, or things will stagnate and falter, but is all the change we endure good for us?
I can recall the pre-computer days, no emails, no spam, no social media, in fact, your social life then evolved around the local pub, the church and local community. Today, with the advent of email, the internet, online shopping, social media, your local community is potentially international!
Ok, so I’m old, in years, but not in heart.
Well, my son often tells me it’s time to grow up!
This is something I’ve happily dwelled on for many years, and accepted as a part of life, a part of evolution, progression of life.
But is it really, have the bad things really changed that much?
We hear of murders, shooting, road rage, muggings, sexual assaults, all appear to be on the increase as time progresses. But are they really on the increase?
Yes, I hear some of you saying, and perhaps, you’re right.
Something I’d like to share with you, something that many folk of my generation, and older will be aware of.
In days gone by, long before I was born, there were murders, muggings, killings and sexual attacks, the difference was, some of it was swept under the carpet, while others were only local news, predominantly local gossip, because there wasn’t the ability to communicate quite the same then, that we enjoy today.
Westminster Bridge; London 2016
Or do we enjoy it today! Sexual assaults, of any nature, were often covered up, swept under the carpet, and still are in some cases today, with many only coming to light because society has changed.
Often the victims were sent to institutions to shut them away from society, so as not to embarrass the very community and family they came from, who should have supported them.
Before industrialisation, before gas street lighting, we had the man with the lamp, a man with a lantern walking the streets escorting people back to their homes at night, hopefully protecting them from being attacked!
I can recall the road we used to live in had gas street lighting, as late as the 1960’s!
Yes, I’ve many years to go before I can claim my pension!
So, are things really as bad as they have decades ago, or even centuries ago?
Perhaps, perhaps not….
What is definitely the case, those troubles were already there, long before you and I were born, but what has changed is the way news travels and the speed and distance at which it travels.
Also, people are more prepared to be more open and report these crimes, detection rates are definitely higher than they were, with CCTV, neighbourhood watch and many other sources of crime detection, including legitimate online spying.
I fear today, we have a lot more pressures, a lot more challenges and stronger feelings of needing to belong. We also need to be more careful in how we carry out our lives and day to day business, especially when we’re using any form of electronic communication.
We have a lot of things out there goading us to perform, to fit in and much more.
But where do you really want to be, where are you comfortable?
Social media is a classic, not many folk today do not embrace one form or another of social media. Often, we access more than one form of social media.
We are told that something is good for us one day, then the next, it’s evil, it’s bad, and then, it’s taxed out of all proportion.
We used to have a lot of countryside, that is now fast disappearing. The more it disappears, the more we will need to rely on imports for food!
The more the countryside disappears, the more nature is pressured and many creatures we used to have, disappear!
A five-minute walk down the road, and I used to walk out onto farm fields, I used to work on farms as a teenager. Today, all those farms have gone, they’re either housing estates or commercial developments.
Not even a five-minute drive from where I live would I be in country, I’d still be in an urban environment!
Many small towns are joined at the hip, and more are fast getting closer to their neighbouring towns and cities.
Nature really doesn’t stand a chance today. We need nature, to help us survive, and nature needs us to help it survive. We’re all part of one big ecological circle, break one or more links in the chain, and the chain is as good as useless!
If you’re wondering, yes, I’m anti HS2, I feel the money should be spent on improving the current rail infrastructure and also the NHS, which desperately needs support.
On the subject of HS2, the satellite construction sites not in urban areas, which when the construction of HS2 is completed, are supposed to be returned to nature once the construction is complete, I fear will be deemed brown field sites, and beyond reasonable condition for returning to nature.
So, what will they become?
By that time, I’ll be feeding the daisies, so should I care?
Well, yes, I do. I want my children's children to enjoy the open spaces I enjoyed. I want nature to survive with our support, not total destruction, which is the way we are heading today!
Are things better today, or were they better in days gone by?
Admiralty Arch, London
(In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910)
My thoughts, the sixties, well, the late sixties through to the early seventies, which is the era I grew up in, was not necessarily a good time, but it was an innovative and adventurous period.
Today, we have better medical care, heart problems are treated almost as an everyday thing, whereas heart surgery during the 1960’s was still very risky and pioneering.
I feel from my own perspective, which was a child’s perspective, not adult, the sixties were more carefree and not so pressurised, a more sedate pace, but the pressure was on.
The sixties, they were exciting years.
Taking that thought for a moment, the Cold War Years (1947 - 1991), well probably the first half of the Cold War Years, the offence against the prospect of World War Three, which had the potential to be a nuclear holocaust, we were probably at the safest we have ever been since the end of the Second World War.
London circa mid 1960's
Well, probably up to the seventies at least.
The Cold War was basically between two superpowers, America, supported by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), and Russia, where both sides knew the consequences if either unleashed any part of their nuclear arsenal.
A stalemate.
So, they flexed their muscles in other ways, Vietnam, an atrocity of some horrendous weaponry.
Probably one of the more acceptable ways of flexing their muscles, was the Space Race, Russia had the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, while America had the first man on the moon.
I know there are many out there who feel that the moon landing and walk was a big hoax, perhaps it was, I don’t know, we may never know.
But a thought I’ll share with you, Russia and America were watching each other’s moves very closely, scrutinising each and every single and multiple move.
The Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon would almost certainly have been monitored by the Russians. If NASA never did put a man on the moon, then it would need to have been a very elaborate setup of radio communications across the void between the earth and moon, to convince Russia that man was on the moon, when he wasn’t!
If the Russians had found out it was an elaborate hoax, then that would have given them superiority in the Cold War, and the consequences just wouldn’t bare thinking about.
We still had terrorist activities, Entebbe Airport in July 1976 to name one, of many.

Also Northern Ireland, conflicts with the IRA and other groups from the late sixties, with incidents peaking early to mid seventies, right up until 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement.
Even in the eighties, we had terrorist activities, Pan Am Flight 103, that exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland.
London 2017
We still had wars and conflicts, a few are listed below:
Parliament Clock Tower, affectionately named
Big Ben, after the bell in the tower
1950-1953 Korean War
1956 Suez Crisis
1961 Cuba (a potential start to World War 3)
1961-1973 Vietnam War
1965 Dominican Republic
1982 Falklands Campaign
1982 Lebanon
1983 Grenada
1989 Panama
1991 Gulf War (Kuwait and Iraq)
1993 Somalia
1994 Haiti
1994-1995 Bosnia
1999 Kosovo
2001—2014 Afghanistan
2003—2010 Iraq War
The sixties through to the eighties, we saw a lot of industrial unrest, and work was tough to find for school leavers during the seventies and eighties, with many businesses closing, or moving abroad, with the increase in automation, taking work away from the working person.
Typing pools replaced by word processors, and later computers.
Robots building cars and many other things, where many people would have laboured away.
Health and safety in the workplace has changed, for the better. Though some of the things I and my former colleagues did, or even got up to for a laugh back then, would certainly be subject to disciplinary action today.
I recall a former mentor, saying the following:
“The sixties swung,
The super seventies were even faster
Heaven help us through the eighties, which will be faster, and the future decades, even faster still!”
The Shard, London 2017
The older we get, in years, nothing else, we often say times are faster and harder. The younger generations often thought different, because they grew into the world we see as hectic. But when they get older, they tend to feel the same as we did.
To circle of life, what goes around comes around….
But I wonder if today, that is still the same.
The social pressures are still there, but are they more so?
Mobile phones and communications today, the internet, email, social media making communication a lot easier, and at the press of a button, you could potentially share something with the whole world!
When I was younger, you could only speak to one person at a time on the phone, or write (not type) a letter.
Today, you can send one letter to as many people as you can think of, electronically, via email!
If you think about, you most likely already have given it some thought, long before you’ve read this posting, just one letter, one email, that potentially could go viral and destroy one life!
A scary thought!
The Gherkin, London 2017
One stupid posting on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media programs, (sorry apps as they are called today), which we have access to, could totally destroy, or make, a life or lives!
I do feel that to a lesser extent, we did enjoy walking the streets a little safer back then than today, even if it was in ignorance of the true reality of life.
Or should that be naivety of the true reality of life!
Is it a safer world today?
A very good question, can it be answered?
I’m not so sure.
A lot depends on your perspective of life.
I personally feel in many aspects; the answer is NO!
Please don’t read that as a negative response, more of a personal opinion based around events that I’ve experienced along with news items.
What decade is better, is really down to perception, how you recall your childhood against what you have heard or read, and how you perceive things today.
Perhaps I’m getting a little old, long in the tooth, and time to hang up those old gumboots…..

The future?

Electric cars, which we'll need to charge up overnight, which for many, will mean roadside charging points!

The demonisation of fossil fuels, a source of revenue for governments, will be no more, so another source to supplement that lost income will need to be found!
A thought I’ll close with:
“Will we have parking meters outside our houses in the future?”
Lyrics from the earlier mentioned songs:
Fings Ain't Wot They Used To Be

They've changed
our local Palais
into a bowlin' alley
and fings ain't
what they used to be
There's teds
with drainpipe trousers
and debs in coffee houses
and fings ain't
what they used to be
There used to be trams
not very quick
got ya from place to place
But now there's just jams
half a mile thick
stay in the human race

Getting Better
The Beatles
It's getting better all the time
I used to get mad at my school
The teacher's that taught me weren't cool
You're holding me down
Filling me up with your rules

I've got to admit it's getting better
A little better all the time
I have to admit it's getting better
It's getting better since you've been mine

Me used to be angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word
I finally heard
I'm doing the best that I can
I've got to admit it's getting better

I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept apart from the things that she loved
Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene
And I'm doing the best that I can

I admit it's getting better
A little better all the time
Yes I admit it's getting better
It's getting better since you've been mine...

Songwriters: John Lennon / John Winston Lennon / Paul McCartney / Paul James McCartney

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