The Grandkids were here the other day.

Young Sir Fartzalott was poking around amongst my ancient collection of Dinky cars and Matchbox cars [which he loves playing with] when he came sidling over to me with that Lady Diana look that usually means he wants something.

"Grandad" says he.

"Yus?" says I.

"Do you have any transformers?"

For a moment I wondered if he was building a radio or an electric fence or something, but then realised he meant one of those modern gimmicks where a car can be twisted around to make a robot.  A sort of kid's version of a Rubik's Cube.

"Do you mean amongst the cars in the box?" I asked even though I knew that he knew damn well that I don't  He has played with the contents of that box often enough.  I also knew that this was a not so subtle hint that he would like a Transformer toy for Christmas.  He can whistle for that one as he is getting a pack of 20 Rothmans like every other year.

"Did you not have Transformers when you were a boy?" he asked.

I laughed.  "No.  They weren't invented then."

"Where they not on television then?"

Again, I had to laugh.  "I didn't have a television when I was your age."

He gave me that look where he isn't quite sure whether I'm pulling his leg or not.  I get that a lot, and usually with some justification.

"There was no television when I was your age.  Well, there was but not in my house.  I used to have to go to a friends house, and even then the pictures were in black and white on a small screen, and there were only two channels anyway.  I didn't have a television until I was seventeen."

He gasped and the jaw dropped.

"No television?"  He clearly didn't believe me.

"No.  And no computers or Xboxes or mobile phones or pads either."

His jaw dropped even further.

"I'm not kidding" says I.

There was a long silence as he looked at me like I was a strange specimen in the museum.

"But what did you DO all day?"

We lived, my boy.  We lived.


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Kids these days — 14 Comments

  1. How the fuck did we ever survive without mobile phones? By planning ahead when landlines were the only instant means of communication, though not more or a less a guarantee you'd actually speak to who you were phoning. Kids of today often go out to town without making any firm plans about where and when they're meeting friends. It's too easy.

    Not that I envy them, I'm glad I lived my formative years when most of us had freer lives than the modern brainwashed  kids and far more than our forebears. Golden days, though we didn't really appreciate how lucky most of us were. Mind you, some our generation are responsible for the subsequent wave of shite…


    • Life without mobile phones was certainly different.  Phone calls were a rarity, as people either wrote letters or called around in person.  There didn't seem to be any necessity in keeping in contact all the time. 

      I don't envy modern kids at all.  I would hate to be young again, with the way the world seems to be going.  My generation though is mostly retired by now so I don't think we can be blamed for the current mess.  I grew up in the era of peace and love [good old Hippies!] whereas I would guess most of the Puritans grew up in the era of punk rock.  Now there's a theory!!

  2. we lived and we lived large lives. friend's grand child was over to hers, didn't know how to hang up a phone (old kind of phone with a cord and wall connect) doubt the kid has ever drank from a garden hose on a hot summer day or told to get outside and don't come back till lunch.

    • We lived in a world of imagination.  Whether it was books, the radio or general play, we had to rely a lot more on our imaginations, whereas now everything is spoon-fed in glorious technicolour.  I wonder what the Grandkids would make of a good old fashioned phone box, with a dial and buttons A and B?  Heh!  They'd probably spend the first half hour looking for the screen?

      • "I wonder what the Grandkids would make of a good old fashioned phone box, with a dial and buttons A and B?"

        They do what I did I hope. Break a lolly stick in half and wedge it up the "B" slot. I made a fortune from all the calls that didn't go through.

        • Heh!  I used to use scrumpled paper.  It was quieter when the coins came down.  I also used to do the rounds of the boxes collecting where other kids had tried he same trick.  Happy days!

  3. A wonderful punchline to the story – "We lived, my boy.  We lived." This could become a new proverb for the 21st century:-

    "Switch off your TV set and live."

    • I had to laugh at his expressions of bewilderment but really it's not that funny.  Everything has to be manufactured for kids these days, but back in The Good Times we made our own toys [hurley sticks were great as rifles!] and just used our imaginations.  A tree could be a castle or a fort and the corner of the garden could be a desert island.  Nowadays, unless it comes with a remote control, it's useless!

  4. My grandson had the exact same response to no tv when I was a child! Sheer disbelief. I wouldn't change places with today's children though they have so much but I wonder f they can use their imagination as we had to. 

    • I forgot to ask him if he knew what a radio is.  They don't have one in the house as it's all television/computers/phones, so it's possible he has never heard one.  I must ask him next time I see him.

    • Indeed.  Of course, nowadays snowballs are strictly forbidden as it is "an act of violence" and shows discrimination against your fellow pupil.  And God forbid you should actually hit your target and they might be offended/hurt.

  5. That was a fine answer you gave the lad. A fine answer indeed. For myself (and the wife as well), I used to change the course of mighty rivers when I was a young'un (well, sort of…), build fortifications and dams out of river rocks and explored the primeval forests of anywhere we happened to live that had more than a half a dozen trees nearby.

    Funny now that I haven't had a TV hookup of any kind for over 20 years in that I can't hear much without hearing aids, I need glasses to see correctly, my back is busted and my cane gets stuck in the detritus of mighty forests.

    …I can still comment though.

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