No blog last week because I was in England visiting my grandchildren. The older pair, aged 8 and 6, are respectively in to Star Wars Lego and all things pink and fluffy. The younger pair are in to dairy products and Rolling On to The Stomach, Stage 1. There may be a credit crunch on but all of them have everything a small person could wish for, including fairies at the bottom of the garden. Particularly the two who live in Brighton.
So I was thinking how, within living memory, a child’s lot has changed. Notwithstanding my jokes about bedrooms with ice on the inside of the window, and itchy woollen swimsuits and horrible gaberdine overcoats that scraped the floor because they had to last you for three years, notwithstanding all that, I had things pretty cushy myself. And my children certainly did. They were hardly ever forced to wear something on the grounds that it was brown, commodious and serviceable. Nor did I ever ask them to eat boiled tripe.
Compare this to the childhood of an Italian friend who was born in 1935. When he was 5 his mother sold him to a family in the country. There were severe food shortages but she knew he’d get fed on a farm. But things didn’t work out. He ended up back in the city, a little man helping his mother with her endlessly growing brood of babies. When he was 6 he saw his elderly neighbour shot by German troops. When he was 7 and the GIs arrived, he recognised a promising business opportunity, washing jeeps, and so became the principal earner of the family. A buck a day back in 1942. Imagine.
One of my tasks this past weekend was to make travel plans for a trip to France in November. This places me in the exciting position of being able to announce the winner of my Worst Website 2009 award. Take a proud step forward SNCF. And pass me the aspirin.