Friday, 22 June 2018

Offers on nostalgia .....two for one at your local corner shop ....... all this week

Now I can be as nostalgic as the next senior citizen, but nostalgia should come with a Government Health Warning because it can lead to a distorted view of what went before.

Washing the prawns in Woolwich, 1979
I write and post a lot about the places where I grew up as a kid, from Eltham, back to Peckham, New Cross and Greenwich and also of the places in Manchester, Salford and Ashton where I first roamed as a 19 year old student.

Often the responses to those stories can be fascinating and instructive, as people share their memories along with photographs of a world we have lost.

But mixed in are the laments for what is no more.  Some strike a chord with me.  I find those tall new developments which dwarf everything else and can be seen miles away as less progress and more a blot on the landscape.

The Rochdale Canal, 1979
But I am also aware that the buildings they swept away were sometimes beyond their sell by date, and were ugly and unpleasant to work or live in.  Added to which when they rose from the ground during the reign of the old Queen or her son, they displaced many elegant 18th century properties which in turn had done for buildings constructed when the first Elizabeth took the throne.

And nostalgia often hides the dark and the grim, be it high child mortality, the ever present threat of the workhouse for those living on the margin of poverty or just the discomfort of a horse drawn stage coach which took days to travel across the country.

We may all yearn for an age before the supermarket, but that was often a time when food was less than fresh, had been adulterated and when the choice of what to eat was severely limited.

So yes I do miss the market at Woolwich, think about the range of shops along Salford’s Greengate and wish I could have wandered the twisting streets and lanes around Bulls Head Yard and the Hen and Poultry Market where the birds were displayed in cages which is now underneath Manchester’s Arndale Centre.

The bus inspector, 1980
But I am wary of nostalgia which if we are not careful delivers great wallops of rosy tinted history which distort and hides what was often not so pleasant a time.

Location; everywhere

Picture; washing the prawns in Woolwich Market, 1979, the Rochade Canal, 1979,and the bus inspector, 1979, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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