Friday, May 4, 2012

The Good Old Days

I'm in the process of writing my first novel. It's set in 1979 and my protagonist has travelled back in time from the present. One of the things she struggles with is the lack of digital technology. Whilst the novel is in no way autobiographical, I know I would struggle, too. I love digital technology!

The situation my protagonist finds herself in led to an interesting discussion between Husband and me the other day. Thinking about shows that had been on TV we began to wonder what it would be like to live in a 1970's house. It was purely hypothetical because there is NO WAY I intend to try that experiment!

Looking around our lounge room we concluded that only the television and lamps would remain plugged into the walls. No wonder our house, which was a typical family home when it was built in 1980, feels so small now; it wasn't built for all the extra stuff.

The kitchen would have only had the fridge, toaster and kettle. There may have been a radio where the television sits in our meals area.

Teenage Daughter and The Boyfriend would have had to endure phone conversations on a phone that would have been plugged in to the kitchen wall and I would be writing my novel by hand. I'd actually have to go out to do the banking and probably use the bus to get there because we may have only had one car.

With that all in mind I remarked that there must have been far fewer carbon emissions in those days. Husband was unconvinced citing the fact that industry was less regulated - if at all - and older appliances were less energy efficient. I suspect he's right. I still wonder, however, if regulation and energy efficiency have made that much difference. I honestly don't know - I'd need to see stats on it. There are definitely far more electrical/digital items in use than ever before so that has to increase electricity usage.

We meandered away from technology to food in the course of the discussion and then on to manufactured goods. I thought of all the food in the house and could see very little difference between what I purchase now and what was in the fridge and pantry when I was growing up. I don't believe in buying convenience  foods and there has been a huge increase in them in the last thirty or so years. The big difference for me, however, is that back in 1979 consumers could be more confident that the food they were buying was grown, made and owned by local businesses. The thought of carrying the Ethical Consumer Guide would not have crossed my mind; it's very unlikely it would have been necessary at the supermarket at all.

Cheap imports are not a new phenomenon. Thirty years ago, they existed. People bought them and they quickly fell apart - the goods, not the people, of course. There was a choice. Now it is extremely difficult - sometimes impossible - to find locally manufactured goods. It's even more difficult to find locally owned companies.

Having written all that, however, I'm now going to go and do my internet banking on my computer!


1 comment:

  1. I remember a teaching resource I saw not so long ago, that compared the number of appliances in a house 20-30 years ago, with one 10 years ago. It was already markedly dated! It makes me laugh when I pack my bag to go away overnight, and need to put in my phone charger as well.