20 reasons why nostalgia is overrated

Ah, the good ol’ days. But before you get too misty-eyed about your childhood, don’t forget what it was really like, says Flic Everett.

1. ‘We ate good, simple food’

Ah yes, the wholesome wellbeing boost of a frozen crispy pancake served with tinned beans and sausages and arctic roll for pudding. Our generation was 80 per cent oven chips and 20 per cent Monster Munch, with a cream soda chaser.

2. ‘We all watched TV together’

All three channels, featuring The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team or Ski Sunday. Saturday afternoons were always World of Sport or Grandstand that our dads were watching, and for light relief there was That’s Life!, with its erotically shaped potatoes.

3. ‘We weren’t always on phones’

Primarily because the only available contact with our friends was the parental landline, which was guarded like a trunk of rubies until after 6pm (when cheaper rates kicked in), at which point we’d be allowed one brief call ‘to discuss homework’.

4. ‘We didn’t need loads of fancy toys’

Good job, seeing as we had a glittering choice of The Big Yellow Teapot or Etch A Sketch, which allowed you to jerk a grey line around a grey screen and eventually produce a grey square.

5. ‘We weren’t interested in designer clothes’

That’s because we were dressed in either our cousin’s hand-me-down trousers from the Grattan catalogue, or our mum’s attempt at Clothkits dungarees. Basically, we looked like Hobbits lost in Oxfam.

woman on phone
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6. ‘We didn’t care about shopping’

Which generally involved trailing round Clarks trying on ‘good, sturdy school shoes’ while an embarrassed teenager measured your feet, or stocking up on BOGOF boil-in-the-bag cod at Kwik Save.

7. ‘We played out all day long’

Dodging around speeding cars, getting yelled at by elderly neighbours, re-enacting TV wrestling matches on filthy Tarmac, then sitting on someone’s wall and arguing.

8. ‘We didn’t sit in McDonald’s all day’

No, as without Nando’s, Maccy D’s and Starbucks, there was nowhere for kids to hang out except abandoned bus stops and council flower beds.

9. ‘School trips didn’t cost a fortune’

A payment of £2.50 to visit the pencil museum in Keswick on a rain-lashed Wednesday, eating your packed lunch by 10am on the five-hour coach journey, seemed more than reasonable.

10. ‘We weren’t always chewing gum’

Except for the cheap bubblegum the newsagent sold, which would pop unexpectedly and coat your hair in sticky, rubbery strands that your furious mum had to cut out with kitchen scissors.

11. ‘We had one bath a week’

In four inches of tepid water, while you tried to angle your head under the spinning rubber shower hose before it scalded your ear like a branding iron.

12. ‘Pop music actually had a tune’

Who can forget Middle of the Road’s ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ and racing to your radio cassette to cut Simon Bates’s voice off the final notes of ‘Some Girls’ by Racey?

13. ‘We were never bored’

Between doggy-paddling through Elastoplast soup at the local swimming baths and kicking a burst football around, there evidently wasn’t time.

14. ‘We weren’t always playing video games’

Looking back, perhaps Pong – where a small white stick travelled slowly up and down a blank screen – wasn’t quite as gripping as Minecraft.

15. ‘Eating out was a treat’

If you can call a metal dish of refrigerated melon balls and a steak cooked for long enough to resemble a medieval shoe ‘a treat’.

16. ‘We didn’t expect to be driven everywhere’

Except for holidays when you’d leave at 3am to ‘beat the traffic’ that was apparently hurtling towards North Wales in the early hours, with no seatbelts and both parents smoking like chimneys in the front of the Cortina.

17. ‘We weren’t wrapped in cotton wool’

Once we’d had the conker shards tweezered from our eyeballs and the gravel picked painstakingly from our thighs, a quick dab of TCP and we were as good as new. Although ‘it’s gone septic’ was a phrase familiar to every under-ten.

18. ‘We had good manners’

Hence the twice-yearly thank-you letter on Holly Hobbie stationery that you were forced to labour over. ‘Thank you for the book token. I swapped it for proper money.’ (Your mum: ‘Don’t put that!’)

19. ‘We didn’t expect expensive presents all the time’

That’s lucky, as our best hope from most relatives was a gift set of Yardley bath cubes and matching talc, or Fred Flintstone soap on a rope.

20. ‘We entertained ourselves with board games’

The unstable architecture of Mouse Trap. The dull worry of Operation. The bullying triumphalism of Sorry! (‘Oops, you’re going back to the start, ha ha.’) Truly, modern kids have never had it so good.