Saturday, 22 April 2017
It Was Better When...
Facebook has a page just for our little town. This is an excellent idea and many pictures, adverts and much information regarding the museum happens to appear there on occasions, I know not how. The page is used by many to conjure up memories of Braintree from days of yore. A great many are now living abroad, some from work, some because life causes us to move away from home and a number of women who married the abundant supply of 'rich' Americans working at the many air bases that sprung up during the second world war. The last base did not close until the late 90's and every so often these women return with their man to see relatives and have a jolly good time. One, now widowed, arrived last Tuesday just as we opened to wander around the shop and obtain gifts to take home again. Such folk use the facebook page to keep in touch with their past and keep an eye on the developing town.
One topic is the constant whine that 'The town is not the same,' or 'It's not as good as it was,' or the grumble 'It was better in my day.' Maybe it is because I look at history and read things from the past, maybe it is because they are grumbling old people or maybe it is because they are right I know not but this annoys me. The town is certainly changing, it has altered in the 21 years I have been here, but what these Moaning Minnie's forget is that the town always changed and altered, and old people just like them constantly grumbled that it 'was better in the past.'
Look at the change to the market, the difference between the crowds before 1914 compared to those in the late 30's as seen above. No animals are seen in the top picture possibly because it was a Saturday market and Wednesday may have had animals, possibly the animals are round in the high Street, I have seen pictures of Bulls there in the 60's. Todays market cannot compete with either but if they could bring this back would the grumbles like it? No, they would find many complaints.
For a start the women would complain about animal leftovers on their shoes, much abounding in the past, and then complain about the inconvenience of having to go from one stall to another for the daily needs. The convenience of Tesco's would suddenly appear bright and the quality of goods improving, let alone the amount of cash no readily available for most was just not there in the past.
the men in the top picture are complaining about the cost of a pint, almost a shilling where in the bottom picture it might have been only 3 pence in some places. The women in the top will be fussing about fashion in just the same manner of those in the lower picture, but in the top one more will have cash to buy more readily than the majority on poor wages in the bottom picture.
All in both pictures will be grumbling the 'Kids have it easy today, not like when we were that age.' The kids, if still around are saying just that very thing today while in the market.
The past is another country and far too many people live in it. They look at the town and see it when they were young forgetting that what they enjoyed was not the town but their life in the town. The town they now see does not fit in with their memory but young folks today are having exactly the same thoughts as they, but will look back in thirty years time grumbling about how the town has changed. 'What is has already been and will be again.' I am glad I moved when younger, I am glad I moved here, because I do not look back on my Edinburgh childhood and long to return, indeed many things make me glad not to be in Edinburgh, the early 1970's were not a good time for me and my memories are not always good. I do have good ones from all places I have stayed as well as bad but too many forget the bad things that occurred in the past and block them out viewing their youth as a good place, forgetting the fears, problems and mistakes that have left scars but can be ignored.
Braintree & Bocking had around 12,000 people between them in 1914, when I arrived there were 30,000, now there is 40,000 and things do change and not always for the better. The car enables folks to visit the big towns for shopping at big stores, the web enables online shopping and tastes change as well as markets. The market has stood for over 800 years and will continue for many more, ever changing and always with grumbling people fussing about nothing all around.
Maybe they all ought to learn from me, I'm not one to complain...