A couple of weeks ago we were lamenting the death of David Bowie and last week it was the end of 500 years of eel catching in Britain. This weekend it’s been the end of traffic wardens (they are all ‘civil enforcement officers’).
We hate losing things, people and traditions. Until last week, we couldn’t have cared less about eel catching. Now it’s a symbol of the pace of change, our loss of a simpler way of life. Along with the demise of gas street lamps, steam trains and holidays in Clacton-on-Sea, we seem to believe that life was better in the past. Perhaps that’s why there’s so much fuss about the new Dad’s Army movie.
Heaven forfend, there’s even nostalgia for the 1970s and ’80s – when the High Street was really humming. There was Woolies, Our Price Records, Comet, MFI, House of Holland and the rest. We conveniently forget that it was a period of mostly terrible music, catastrophic industrial unrest, the 3 day week, horrific inflation, stratospheric oil prices, ugly furniture (unless you lived near a Habitat), naff TV, loon pants…and the Austin Allegro.
How could they?
Politicians and the likes of Mary Portas still mourn the death of the High Street, but the truth is, it offered a dreadful customer experience and buying online is a whole lot easier. If Amazon would just pay its taxes and level the playing field, we could all rest easy.
No, the past wasn’t a better time. Product reliability was appalling, customer service non-existent, the trains worked even less well, the GPO took weeks to install your phone, the Gas Board had to connect your gas cooker and never showed up and British Airways was owned by the government and as bad as Aeroflot.
I’m on the side of the eels.
Author: Richard Williams