Are Things Better Today?


“They changed our local palais into a bowling alley and fings aint wot they used to be…” from Lionel Bart’s lyrics for the musical play Fings Aint Wot They Used To Be.  Click here for Max Bygrave’s version of this song.

When I was much younger I used to roll my eyes when Mother, Father or one of the grandparents told me how much things have changed since they were young.  Now, while I don’t say this to my children and grandchildren, I notice how very much has changed since I was young.

I have written nostalgic posts several times over the past (almost) three months.  In particular I waxed lyrical(?) in April.

Memories are great but were things any better?

Pie and Mash shopFast food for us was occasionally fish and chips and because we lived in the East End of London, pie and mash.

Now everywhere we go we see the ubiquitous golden arches or the BK sign.

Are we bringing up a generation who don’t know the joys of cooking at home and only take the fast food option?

Is the plethora of fast food outlets adding to the benefits of living in the 21st Century – I would think that children are missing out of the times spent in the kitchen with mother or grandmother watching as she prepares the family’s food and learning more about each other.

Encyclopaedia Britannica in bookcase

Encyclopaedia_Britannica - Wikipedia

When we were researching any subject we either used the local library or if we were lucky enough to have a set, used the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Our parents had bought this set for us on what they euphemistically called the ‘never-never’.  An early Hire Purchase offer.   This was a stretch for our parents but they wanted the best for us.

Now my grandchildren go straight to the web and Wikipedia for anything they need.  The web is certainly easier and quicker and I am sure that children are learning so much more than we have learned.  So in this way it is better now.

But where is the excitement of finding just the right place to look, the feel of the books and following leads from one thing to another?

We walked or cycled to school – today children are generally driven to and from by parents.  Will they learn to be self sufficient and able to get themselves from place to place in this way?

I understand that younger children must be ferried around and I am pleased to report that my grandchildren are now finding their own way around as they should at their age – between 12 and 16.  But many of their friends are still driven everywhere by parents.

What about shopping?  I wrote about the various shops my Mother visited for groceries in my blog on April 18.

Now we make one stop for everything.  Malls are everywhere and we just get into our cars and drive there.

What I think we are missing out on is the normal interaction between shoppers and shop assistants.  In these days of check out counters, there is no time to catch up on each others lives as my Mother and her peers used to when shopping,

And driving.  Mother didn’t drive and so she walked or took buses.  When walking she always met somebody that she knew.  Another opportunity to catch up with each other.  Now we sit in our cars, often alone, going about our business.  No chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances here.

Children played outside after school.  Now they seem to be glued to the TV and/or computer playing games.  They are missing out on the fun to be had from organizing team or other games in the fresh air. 

I guess I haven’t answered the question one way or the other.  There are certainly so many things we have now that we didn’t have before and for which we are grateful

  • The internet allows me to interact with friends and family around the country and around the world.
  • Freezers that allow me to shop occasionally yet always have food on hand.
  • Mobile phones that also allow me to keep in touch.
  • Computers that allow me to work much quicker and faster.  I remember typewriters and then they were replaced by electric typewriters, then memory ones.  But they all had one thing in common, if a mistake was made in typing it had to be corrected either by starting over or else making physical changes with whitening products and then typing over.  How much easier it is with Word.
  • Easy and convenient shopping.
  • Credit and ATM cards that mean I can buy what I want/need without having to go to the bank to get money.
  • Easy travel between the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere allowing me to visit family and friends.
  • Cheaper travel between the hemispheres.
  • Cheaper phone calls so I can speak with my sisters regularly.
  • And of course, the internet that allows us to share photos between us.

And really too many things to list here.  I am sure you can make up your own.

So overall it is better to live today but I would like to share  two of my sayings that I use often:

“Memories are the bricks we use to build our lives”  and

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.” 

Judith Baxter, mother, grandmother, friend and blogger.  1938 –


22 responses to “Are Things Better Today?

  1. Very nice comparisons Judith..the pic of the Britanica brought back such memories..when we bought our set we thought it would last forever LOL!


  2. I’m often left thinking that the things I grew up knowing and experiencing will only be read about by my granddaughter who just turned a year old last month.
    The world is constantly changing. Some changes feel good, others do not. It seems that with all change that comes our way some things are lost along the way.

    Enjoyed this post!


    • But there are many good things coming out now. My grandchildren and your baby granddaughter will certainly learn things that are far beyond anything I could have learned.

      Thanks for coming by. 🙂


  3. I would certainly miss the convenience of food we have today.


  4. While I love convenience, there is much I miss from the past! I especially miss “community” – the connections these days don’t seem as intimate.


    • Yes I do agree and of course, mothers didn’t rush off to work each day so they had time to stop and chat. This is something we miss in our busy world.


  5. Marianne London

    Hi Sister. I love reading this page of yours. I remeber our Mum loved going shopping and do you remeber we always went with her to Ridley Road market on Saturdays for the Fruit and Veg. She knew so many people to stop and talk to. Daisy has a Silver Cross dolls pram a smaller edition of our babiesprams. I was telling her that there was always prams with babies in them outside peoples homes. She looked at me in horror” but didnt anyone steal the babies Nanny?” How our world has changed.
    Just to let you know I still have the encylopaedias.


  6. Thanks sister. I wondered what happened to the encyclopedias. Do they ever get read these days?
    And yes, I remember Ridley Road market as it was – not how it is today. Saturday shopping was a ritual in our lives.


  7. We had the World Book encyclopedias…

    My kids hardly ever play outside…makes me sad!



    • My sister just told me that she has the encyclopedias, I have often wondered what happened to them
      And my grandsons hardly play outside anymore except for two of them who shoot hoops and the other two kick footballs around. My own children spent hours outside when they were younger.



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  10. Even with the Internet, those encyclopedias are such treasures. And though the shopping malls are convenient, I miss the small, independent shops we had in the center of our town when we were growing up. Yes, so many things are much easier and better for us now, but there is much to be said for our lives in the past.


    • We still have the independent butchers and greengrocers but most people do shop at the malls.
      I think that life was much simpler in our mothers’ day in many respects but ..


  11. I wonder if our mothers thought life was so simple, Judith. I do think my daughter has it harder raising children now than I did because of the Internet and social media. So many more things to worry about keeping your kids safe from.


    • I am sure that they didn’t think life was simple, and they had their own mothers’ lives to compare with theirs. We didn’t think our lives were simple during the busy years but I certainly would not like to be raising children now.


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