I’m not sure, because I am so old, if it is me who is going crazy or just the rest of the world. This is epitomised by the extraordinary divorce proceedings of Paul McCartney and his wife. They are fighting at great expense over sums of money that they couldn’t possibly spend. Even if I were to move house and buy a property ludicrously huge, by my standards, I would find it extremely difficult to spend two million, let alone hundreds of millions.
Today I even started to wonder whether I was responsible to some extent for where the world has arrived, and decided that I knew no one in particular at whose door one could lay the incredible change that I have seen in every area of life. This caused me to realise why there is so much naked aggression, inhibition, and manufactured pleasure, which has replaced the smooth, gentle, unsophisticated world I was born into. There is no doubt there was extreme poverty, my grandmother rubbed my nose in it to make me aware. There was a disparity between the very poor and the very rich, but as the very rich were very few, and the disparity showed itself more in accommodation, and pleasure, than materially, this meant that there was not the same urge for advancement, people were happy with the status quo. People today wouldn’t believe how many of our pleasures cost absolutely nothing, and that cost itself was not the key factor of determining the level of enjoyment. I never cease to be annoyed at how much it costs today for a father to take his son to a football match.. Seaside resorts like Hastings are, to some extent, dormitory towns because so many now go abroad.
I believe that the problem stems from affluence, merchandisers hoodwinking us into believing that we need the products they are advertising, and the high level of competition in manufacturing and retail that has spawned ever increasing, ever more expensive, ever more sophisticated ways of spending our money, and an outlook of change for the sake of change, that includes products with inbuilt redundancy. Our entertainment 70 years ago, was at that stage where each progression induced wonderment, from the rapidly expanding quality of the films and the stage shows, to the size and variety of rides and stalls at the fairs on high days and holidays. I don’t know when I last saw a really big fair. TV has superseded the cinema and the quantity of material required to feed so many competing stations is gargantuan, with the result that to maintain the flow the excellent is repeated ad nauseam, interspersed with the banal and downright awful. I believe we have become blase with so much sophistication, that some of us are striving excessively for the unattainable. The culture of the so-called ‘celebrity’ doesn’t help. At the end of World War II the film industry in England started a training programme producing our better known actors and actresses, who all spoke identically, having been trained by speech therapists to lose their own native accents. Today there seems to be no speech training, people speak with regional accents, often without moving their lips, making understanding difficult, and the dialogue today has not the quality of vocabulary and grammar that it had with the Rank Organisation. Indeed a high proportion of our films now are made by and for Afro-Americans, with Harlem patois, and a level of violence that no human body could endure and come back for more.
We are told, whether we believe it or not, that we are a wealthy nation, and it seems that we have the wages to prove it. We have an affluent society, based on national and home borrowing, and we are spending to the limit, and in a lot of cases without regard for the future. The government wrings its hands and comes out with solutions to solve the drink problem, which we never had as young people, because we couldn’t afford it, and we were taught drunkenness was antisocial. If that is an accurate assessment, it would seem that teenagers today have too much pocket money and not enough supervision. Instead of increasing alcohol taxation across the board, they should be arresting the parents for irresponsibility, if their teenagers are seen to be acting antisocially under the influence of alcohol.
Basically every sphere of life has changed, and affluence has enabled some to achieve the level of advancement that is wholly out of proportion with the good that they do. The material level of the average household is more comfortable, more easily run than it was in the 30s, but has come at a price that we are now having to pay, not only in our taxes, and in longer working hours per household, but in government imposed inhibition across-the-board. I suppose if we want to lay it at the door of anyone, it should rest at those who have become multimillionaires and have lost the notion of the value of money, and the town halls and seats of government, who want to be loved at any price, and aren’t too fussy who is paying the price..