As time goes by.

2015 On Athletics All Weather Running TrackYesterday was my 72nd birthday and many thanks to all those that sent me birthday wishes. This morning when I awoke for some reason the thought immediately crossed my mind of how different, if not alien, the world I was born into must seem to someone born today. I was born just after the end of the war in 1946.A little simple arithmetic shows deducting my 72 years from that date is equivalent to a person being born in 1874 when I first entered the world.

The oldest person I knew in my family was my paternal grandmother who was born in 1881 and I am now talking of a time before even that year.

To me like I suppose it must seem to all of us old un’s, that I remember my childhood well, my school days, my early working life, followed by my fire service career until I eventually retired. Again I suppose like most of us it still seems like yesterday but the world I was born in must appear as alien to a youngster today as the world of someone born in 1874 must have seemed to me.

I don’t want to hark on about the tin bath hanging on an outside wall, the outside toilet, gas lamps or coal fired cooking range which many of us grew up with. but for many born in 1874, even these basics must have seemed a modern luxury compared with the like of the no sanitation at all world they were born into.

Many of us grew up in a victorious but war torn nation. The war heavily influenced our childhood with hundreds of thousands of servicemen who had experienced its horrors coupled with a recently Blitz blasted civilian community fresh in everyone minds. Now 72 years on, the vast majority of those people and their memories have now passed on. To many youngsters today, WW2 must now seem as remote to them as the battlefields of 1874 would have seemed to me. As an example, the Zulu wars did not occur until 1879.

My grandmother was born in Camberwell, south London in 1881 an maps of the time show almost everything south of the Peckham Road was open land containing many market gardens. All that had disappeared under rapid urban expansion by the time I was born, but likewise much open land I knew as a youngster has equally disappeared. It is as difficult for a youngster today to visualise the open fields I once knew as it is for me to visualise the open fields of my grandmothers time.

One only has to look at a zoomed out aerial view on Google of London and the southeast to see the blur created by buildings now runs almost unchecked from Heathrow in the west, to Shoeburyness in the east, bar for a small break in the middle. Compare that against a immediate post-war map showing buildings to see just how much land a rapidly ever growing population is gobbling up. I do not know what the remote future will hold, but it is things like the above example of the rapidly disappearing countryside that tell me it will not be in the too distant future, that governments will seriously be debating birth control measures.

No doubt in another 72 years, those newcomers to the world being born now will also have similar thoughts.

Yes in the past 72 years the world has changed a lot. But I cannot help but think when compared of my imaginary 1874 predecessors or what the great as yet unborn will face, we probably have experienced the best of it.

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