Is it just me, or does everybody when they are well past the flush of youth and have entered that period of your life that’s horribly referred to as “Middle Age” catch a dose of nostalgitis? Maybe it’s because most of the best bits of my life have already happened and there’s not a great deal to look forward to if I just sit back from now on and allow the great clock of my existence to tick slowly on until it comes to a grinding halt.Oh, for Pete’s sake Brigitte, stop it, that just sounds so utterly depressing! As long as I’m not hit by a double-decker bus or struck down with a lurgy in the near future, I’ve still years ahead of me yet and I intend to make good use of each and every one of them!
Being nostalgic for me has nothing to do with going around spouting “Back in the good old days” every five minutes because to be honest life wasn’t really any better or indeed worse than it is now. It was just different. My case of nostalgitis focuses very much on my own personal memories rather than what was happening in the world in general ten, twenty, thirty years and more ago. A photo, an article or being somewhere might bring back memories. Some fleeting, and others that are incredibly vivid. Take a few months back when I was visiting the M Shed in Bristol. One of the exhibits was an old green double-decker bus, the very same style of bus that I used to travel on way back in the 70’s.The moment I stepped on it I remembered that I used to love sitting on the benches that faced inwards. They were slightly raised so you sat above everyone else. The pattern on the upholstery became familiar again as well as the little lightbulbs. I wonder if the busses of today will have the same effect in years to come? Were we more aware of small details in years gone by without the distractions of todays technology? Are we more interested in what’s on a small screen than studying the intricate patterns in the fabric covering a seat in a bus?
I look back fondly at my childhood. We had little materially, but that didn’t matter a jot when I had a wealth of experiences that children today sadly miss out on. We had the freedom to roam, explore and use our imagination. Nobody batted an eye when our middle-aged bachelor neighbour crammed as many children that would fit into his mini and take us to Weston for the afternoon. Uncle Ray was brilliant with us kids but today he would be seen as odd and a potential threat which is very sad as there are good decent men who just like kids, but what parent would risk allowing their child to be in the company of an Uncle Ray?
I remember a childhood of Sunday baths, Vosene, dripping on toast, chilblains from toasting toes too close to the fire. Twin tub washing machines, formica topped kitchen tables, balaclava helmets, long white socks and fleecy school knickers. Brownie uniforms, Sunday School outings, trips to Bristol Central Library with my dad. Spangles and Flying Saucers that fizzed on your tongue.Pressed tongue and frogs spawn pud for school dinner. Potato Puffs and enormous Wagon Wheels for 3d at the school tuck shop.Saturday morning cinema at the Vandyke Picture House in Fishponds. My nan’s corner shop . The eye watering smoke at the working mens club at Eastville. Walking everywhere, playing out until it got dark and the house in the street where the witch lived. And of course there was the love; oh so much love from parents that gave me a childhood that happy memories were built on.
I’m more than happy that my case of nostalgitis is incurable. I don’t hark for the past. I’m happy enough with the present, but I enjoy looking back and remembering all those little stitches that put together has made up the tapestry of my life so far and I’m so looking forward to creating many more.