Published on February 12th, 2011 | by Ann Rickard0
Not quite done with the old days
When people start using phrases suchas “I rememberwhen” or “in my day”they instantly label themselves as old fogies. That’s me this week. Hopefully, next week I will againbe filled with my youthful joie devivre, but I at this moment I am inthe mood for some old fogey reminiscing.
It was a quick dash into thenewsagent in search of a deskcalendar that started this maudlinmoping.Couldn’t find a desk calendaranywhere – we’re supposed to useonly on-line diaries and calendarsnow – and as I searched theshelves I realised they were quitebereft of products.“Closing down,” the girl behindthe counter told me when I inquiredabout the near emptyshelves. “So many newsagents areclosing down now,” she continued.Yes, of course. I should haverealised. The big supermarketchains sell all our newsagentneeds now – apart from a Lottoticket. This saddens me a lot.
So does the rapid disappearanceof the video store. No need forthem when we can download amovie onto iPads and phones foralmost nothing. A trip to the videostore on a Saturday afternoon toload up with half a dozen moviesfor a viewing orgy was an innocenttreat. Now it’s about to gofor good.I still miss taking my films tothe camera store and hangingaround for an impatient but anticipatoryhour to have them developed.Long gone is that smallpleasure.
What about the dwindling numberof bookshops?How many of us have spentsome of the happiest times in ourlives trawling the shelves of a cosyneighbourhood bookshop? Touching books, lifting them onand off shelves, enjoying the visualpleasure of row upon row ofenticing covers will soon be alimited enjoyment.I could go further back in memory(yes, I really am an old fogey)and lament the passing of the milkman. The cheerful sound of clangingbottles in the early morning as themilk man removed the emptiesfrom the doorstep and replacedthem with fresh milk was somethingold fogies awoke to eachmorning, and enjoyed. It was analmost lyrical sound.
I also remember (I am stretchingway back here, I’m really notthat old) the ice man.His cart would rattle up thestreet, filled with large blocks ofice he unloaded and carried with a fearful pincer-like instrument tofront doors. Housewives wouldtake the ice reverently and place itin something called an ice-chest. The big block of ice kept our fewproducts chilled (mostly the milkdelivered that morning) until theice melted and dribbled away.
And while we’re talking oldfogey stuff, let’s not forget thedisappearance of the dunny man. As a child I used to peer out thewindow in the early morning dark to watch him remove the full container, hoist it up on his shoulderand carry it (carefully, very carefully)out to the cart. A worthy jobbut he’s one I don’t miss.
However while some of ourbeloved shops and services aregone, other faithful old institutionsare booming. The post office is a good example.Where once we thoughtthe email would do away with ourneed to ever again buy a stamp,the boom in on-line shopping nowmeans the post office is a place ofpurpose and bustle. What youcan’t buy in the post office isn’t worth having: recipe books, children’stoys, music, teddy bears…it’s heartening to know there is something left for old fogies.