by Andy Hirst
The Queen has been on the throne for 70 years and in that time our lives have changed beyond recognition.
We all know the huge technological changes that people could never have foreseen in 1952: computers, mobile phones, television and entertainment, you get the picture.
But there have also been many ‘unsung heroes’ along the way who have made our lives so much better.
And then there are some failures and missed opportunities when things could have been improved, but ultimately weren’t.
So here we have a selection of the good, the bad and the ugly of how our lives have changed since the Queen’s coronation. Hopefully it will spark some memories and talking points.
Health and security: We’ve all heard the phrase “health and safety gone crazy”, but if you were a kid born in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, it’s amazing you survived!
Back then, new moms wouldn’t mind taking their babies out of the house in strollers; the cars did not have seat belts; pregnant women smoked and drank happily; passive smoking everywhere; no one wore bicycle helmets, so if you fell, you were expected to learn from it and not fall again; and young people used to hitchhike and get into strangers’ cars…
So maybe life is better after all now that we are more security conscious.
Food: In 1952 there was no convenience food in the minds of housewives, and we use that somewhat old-fashioned word on purpose since most couples were married, the man went out to work and his wife took care of the home and fed the family .
So yes, it was convenient for everyone except the lady of the house, who was expected to cook the meat and two vegetables every day… often at lunchtime. Convenience foods began to take off in the 1970s: think Findus crisp pancakes or a Vesta ready meal, which could be chicken supreme, beef curry or chow mein.
It’s fair to say our taste buds have come a long way since then, but the best takeout now has to be pizza: turn on the oven, cover, and it’s ready in 20 minutes for the whole family to sip on a glass. of wine not so well earned.
In the 1950s, the only takeout in town was fish and chips. Now you can get just about anything your palate desires. So the massive choice of food has to be a big plus.
Speaking of amenities: In the early 1950s, nearly half of UK households had no bathroom…just a portable toilet and an outside toilet. In 2010 it was estimated that 40,000 households STILL had an outside toilet.
The queen assumed the throne (every pun intended) on February 6, 1952 after her father, King George VI, died of lung cancer. How many people would have read that story in the newspaper sitting in a very cold outdoor bathroom?
And just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, someone invented that hard Izal toilet paper that was medicated with disinfectant. Newspaper would probably have been better, so our first ‘unsung hero’ invention has to be soft toilet paper along with internal toilets.
Disposable diapers: A very bittersweet invention as it saves busy and beleaguered parents a great deal of time and effort, but then packs that ‘punch’ into the environment. Recent research shows that only 5% of parents still use reusable cloth diapers or something similar. For the rest, your disposable diapers go in the trash and then to the landfill. So, diapers have to be a good invention but they come with a big but (pardon the pun).
Stockings: The era of stockings and suspenders was superseded in the 1960s, probably due to the rise of the miniskirt, by the comfort, comfort, and warmth of leggings. Women love them… and rightly so. As for men, they may think differently…
The numbers game: Useless in math? Hate addition and multiplication is even worse? How did the world get by without the first handheld calculator introduced by Texas Instruments in 1967? It makes you think that many people could have been mistakenly charged in stores before that date.
Fashion: Primitive and correct in the 1950s with headscarves and dresses for the ladies and hats and suits for the gents and stayed as chic as a pin in the early 60s before life changed forever towards the end of the decades with a hippy vibe, denim then 70s fashion with the platform shoes, multi button waist pants and huge collared shirts, followed by punk in the late 70s, glam rock in the 80s and since then it has settled on people who wear what they want. Any rule book that may have existed in previous years has really been thrown out the window.
So fashion is a big hit. Wear what you want.
Road trip: There was a time when the open road was a pleasurable experience…especially in the 1950s and 1960s, when there were far fewer cars and you could get somewhere without getting stuck in traffic. Over the years, car ownership and the rise of road freight, coupled with a lack of foresight (the government could have built wider highways in the 1960s, but decided against it), has caused that our main roads and highways are congested, endless queues, wasted hours. and that’s before all the pollution vehicles go off.
Now the government is spending a fortune turning three lane highways into four but a classic of too little too late if there ever was one.
Train ride: The era of steam trains finally bit the dust in the late 1960s and they were replaced by diesel or electric engines. The highly controversial Beeching Report of 1963 closed thousands of miles of track and hundreds of stations (at the time, the British rail system was losing £100m a year because people started traveling by road), but people fought back. a lot to save parts of the railway and some lines that were saved are now crucial to the rail network and have seen huge investment in recent years.
Railway companies have been privatised, resulting in a complex pricing system and it is generally too expensive for families, so the train too often adds to the strain rather than ‘taking the strain’ . The network is far behind other countries with super fast and reliable services.
Therefore, traveling by train is a confusing hodgepodge that is sometimes a success, but mostly a failure.
Music: When Elizabeth became queen, Mario Lanza was number one on the charts with The Most Enchanting Night of the Year. The music was soft, soothing, soothing, no, even soothing then. From being shaken with all the vigor of a shaker in a washing machine with everything from rock and roll to punk, glam rock, heavy metal, soul, jazz, rap and grime, the list is endless.
Music has transformed our lives with choice and the way we listen to it has evolved from records to cassettes to CDs to live streaming. The ’80s had the ghetto blaster. Now everyone walks in their own little world of music thanks to tiny, high-performance earplugs. The only thing they are exploding is their own ears.
Music is a huge part of our lives and has come a long way during the Queen’s reign.
Mobile phones: Remember the old red phone booths where you had to get stuck in 2p pieces while the annoying beeps sounded every few seconds to indicate that you were running out of time? The mechanism was so clumsy that you practically had to hit the money with a hammer.
Never mind 70 years ago, just 30 years ago we could never have foreseen that we now lead our lives on a small mobile device that can stream live TV, give us more information than the entire Encyclopedia Britannica at our fingertips, and listen to a catalog of music via Spotify that would probably fill Buckingham Palace. And apparently some people even make calls to them.
So the not-so-humble mobile phone has to be the greatest invention of the last 70 years.
Health: The pandemic of the last two years and the incredibly fast way in which vaccines were researched, developed and used shows how far medical science has come. But in the 1950s, thousands of people were dying each year from polio until the polio vaccine was invented early in the decade and led to the eradication of polio worldwide.
The NHS remains the greatest gift a nation has given itself.
Law and order: Police began using DNA in the mid-1980s, and genetic testing via blood and other bodily fluids, skin and hair can pinpoint a suspect with 95% accuracy. You will have saved a fortune on court cases (basically many perpetrators get caught ‘in their own right’ so they have no choice but to plead guilty) and probably stopped many potential miscarriages of justice.
Crime-fighting takes advantage of new technology to make it increasingly difficult for villains to get away with it.
The weird failures: We’ve had a few inventions that looked promising and then were quickly abandoned by a not-so-impressed public. Do you remember the C5 battery powered electric trike in 1985? But it was very expensive at £400, it could only travel 15mph, its driver was at the mercy of the weather and it was so low down that other traffic couldn’t see it.
Also the Segway scooter in 2001 that we all should have been using to get around by now, but production has ceased. Again, it was expensive and where could one ride it as it was dangerous on sidewalks, unsuitable for the road, a heavy machine and anyone who rode in one was immediately labeled lazy.
All those arguments come up again with electric scooters, but we suspect they will end up being more of a hit than a miss.
Whatever you’re doing this extended bank holiday weekend, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on how life has changed over the past 70 years and how an extraordinary woman has been front and center in our lives. nation for an unprecedented seven decades. Happy platinum jubilee, ma’am!
* Written by ANDY HIRST, who runs his own independent journalism agency in Yorkshire, AH! public relations (https://ah-pr.com/) specializing in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.