Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Through rose-coloured glasses

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To those of you who are mildly interested I was born in 1940. Not long after the event Churchill was to announce to the world: “This was their finest hour” - and I thought he was talking about my parents. When I was born Mum and Dad tried to collect on their accident insurance. They kept me hidden during most of the war due to my Jewish nose. Mind you, if my father hadn’t been so shy and retiring I’d be two years older than I am now.

I’m so old I can remember when it used to take seven hours to drive to Auckland. Now you can fly there in less than an hour. Mind you it takes two hours to drive to Wellington, an hour getting checked through airport security, an hour to find your luggage at Mangere, another hour to find a taxi driver in Auckland who can speak English; then it takes him two hours crawling in gridlocked traffic to get you to your final destination.

The progress has been fantastic.

It’s the same with cars. I note that people are lovingly restoring the forties and fifties models like Zephyr Sixes, Morris Oxfords and Rovers and getting admiring glances as these graceful and solid autos glide by. Their Japanese successors are stacked meters high at a scrap metal yard in Ngaumutawa Road.

When I was a youngster we had three grocer’s shops within spitting distance of where we lived at the bottom of Opaki Road. There was one on each corner of Opaki Road and First Street and another one on the corner of First and Cooper Streets. Amongst these there was Tommy Newland’s butcher’s shop. In each store you were personally served by the attentive owner or a member of the family. How dreadfully inconvenient. It’s much better now to be able to drive into town, fight for a carpark, navigate your way around a crowded supermarket and queue up at the checkout.

My first chore in the morning was to bike down to the Lansdowne bakery situated in the building that now houses the A1 fish shop, Bodymind Pilates and the Trust House rental housing division and get us that day our daily bread. I tried not to be led unto temptation and scoff chunks of it on the way home. The aroma from the warm crust was potentially evil delivering.

Before I set off I’d take a flour bag out of the hot water cupboard where they sat in a neat pile having been washed and ironed and available for a myriad of uses. Our folks used them to carry groceries and other parcels. They also made great cleaning cloths and could even be shaped into undergarments.

Now we have the wonderful plastic carry bags that litter our streets and strangle our dolphins. How much better they are. I’m told that worldwide the plastics industry uses more oil in its manufacturing process’s than all the petrol and oil used in cars.

I read a headline last week that said after Trump’s inauguration the world will never be the same.

Well it never has been.

“I was born in very sorry circumstances. My mother was sorry and my father was sorry as well.” - Norman Wisdom.


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