Sunday, 30 June 2013

Whatever happened to.....

I spotted an article yesterday about the old invalid carriages that we used to see on the roads, the most memorable of which was the AC Invacar. It made for an interesting read. I've often wondered why I hadn't seen these things for a long time, and it turned out that they were banned from the road in 2003 due to 'safety concerns'. Apparently the occasional case of spontaneous combustion was enough to cause the demise of not only the occupant, but also a long tradition of pointing and laughing. These vehicles had an assortment of derogatory names applied to them, both by kids who thought they were hilarious and other road users who thought them to be infuriating. The people who were unfortunate enough to need these invalid carriages now either run around in ordinary cars that have been specially adapted for their needs or alternatively shift the old safety concerns from themselves to innocent pedestrians by bombing along the pavement on an electric mobility scooter, striking fear into the hearts and pain into the ankles of anyone not quick enough to get out of their way.

I started to wonder how many other things were common sights in the past but have disappeared from our lives. The obvious answer to that is that there must be no end of things, but not many of them really bother me in any way. For example, that awful shiny toilet paper that used to be provided in the schools and public toilets is something I and the rest of the country was glad to see the back of.
The 'modified' cars when I was a kid usually involved a knackered Ford Cortina with jacked-up rear suspension, a Cherry Bomb exhaust, furry leopard skin seat covers, fluffy dice, and a sun strip at the top of the windscreen displaying the occupant's names - usually 'Barry' and 'Tracey'. These things were awful and tacky and usually done on a shoestring budget, but if I saw such a thing today I'd probably go a little bit misty-eyed thinking of all the crappy old modified Fords that have passed on to the big scrapyard in the sky. Today's Barrys have replaced those things with enormous subwoofers, lots of blue LEDs, and suspension lowered so much that they can't drive over speed humps without ripping off the silly Halfords body kit. Hardly progress now is it? The only difference is the general lack of rust holes.

And when did you last see white dog poo? I dread to think what used to be put into dog food all those years ago to make that happen. In these days of dog food that can often cost more that our own it's hard to imagine the crap that used to be fed to our canine friends. It must have been awful for them, and maybe getting rid of the taste is why dogs always seem to dedicate so much time to licking their own genitals. Apart from the fact that they can, of course.
But the white dog poo is now a distant memory from childhood, and dog poo of any sort is thankfully a less common sight than it used to be.

Not everything that does endure the passing decades really deserves to though; such as black pudding, opera, and 'Songs Of Praise'.
Village fetes still seem to carry on (no doubt something to do with preserving tradition) despite being stuck in the days when the pinnacle of people's expectations of entertainment was morris dancing. These days the average village fete reminds me of the Father Ted episode where 'Funland' comes to Craggy Island.
Fetes are often put on to raise money for some charity or other, which is absolutely fine but given the amount of profits raised, I can't help wondering if they wouldn't be better off going door to door with a collecting tin getting a quid off each household, giving that to charity and forgetting the whole fete thing altogether.

We all have things we miss from our past. Some weren't as good as we remember them, some we mourn, some we'd forgotten about until we read some article that stirs a memory, and some we never want to see again as long as we live. Knight Rider isn't as good as I remember, I mourn the passing of 'Spangles', I'd pretty much forgotten about the Invacar, and if I never hear anything from the St Winifred's School Choir again, I'll die a happy man.

A rare glimpse of an AC Invacar without a half mile queue behind it.....