Generations and the feelgood factor

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From: Malcolm Adams, Kings Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire.

MY wife and I were incensed by Stephanie Smith’s criticism of the over 70s in her article (Yorkshire Post, December 18).

A large proportion of pensioners are now in their 80s and 90s. The normal school leaving age for them was 14. They worked a 45-48 hour week, including Saturday morning.

They spent a childhood of deprivation (no fault of their parents), owing to the Second World War, followed by compulsory military service. Married life began in one-up and one-down rented accommodation. Child allowance was five shillings (25p in new money) paid for the first child only. No car (get on the bus) until the 1960s, then an old car with plenty of rust.

Foreign holidays were unknown until the late 1960/1970s. Washing machines and black- and-white 14in televisions a little later, when we could afford them. No computers, mobile phones, etc.

Company pensions? Yes, if we were lucky. Very few working- class people knew what company pensions were until the 1960s.

No, Stephanie, wherever your neck of the woods is: pull your socks up. You and your kind are far better off than your peers, no matter what the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ statistics say.

From: Allen Davies, Heathfield Court, Grimsby.

DAVID Butcher (Yorkshire Post, December 23) seems to belong to the same generation as myself.

If he has read my letter (Yorkshire Post, December 21), he should realise how fortunate our generation was.

His was the only one in living memory to have enjoyed the security of full employment; for much of our working lives increasing numbers of us were able to own our own houses. We benefited from the tax concessions on our mortgages and endowment policies, along with capital gains on our assets. All of them were socially created values, requiring no effort on our part.

What have we to complain about?

From: Hugh Rogers, Messingham Road, Ashby, Scunthorpe.

THE “news” that the Labour Party is sticking to its strategy of emphasising the cost of living in the run up to the next election is hardly revelatory.

In truth they have little choice. Continuing to frighten people over fuel bills is just about the only chance they have that the electorate will suffer mass amnesia and return them to power in 2015.

But in any case it’s all a chimera. Consumers are consuming energetically. Children, as well as adults, roam the streets with expensive telephones. I’m told our high streets and online retailers had a very good Christmas. The UK economy is set to grow apace. Unemployment is falling. Even the shelves of the kindly meant but totally unnecessary “food banks” are well stocked. All the signs are good.

Encounter at the news stand

From: William Snowden, Dobrudden Park, Baildon Moor, Baildon, Shipley.

THE other Saturday, I picked up the last copy of the Yorkshire Post at the Marks & Spencer store in Ilkley. I was absorbed by a front page story and stood, reading it, beside the news stand.

“Are you going to buy that paper?” The tone was decidedly censorious. I looked round to see a soberly dressed elderly lady, with a grave expression on her face.

“Well, I was contemplating 
it,” I ventured before adding with due propriety: “Why, did you want it?” “No,” she answered sternly. “And if you aren’t then you shouldn’t be handling it.”

I must say that I was rather taken aback. It has been some years since I was addressed as if I were a little boy.

“Do you work here?” I asked.

“No. Do you?” She retorted.

“No, which is why I was minding my own business.”

The lady was unabashed and then said: “Paper carries germs.”

“Yes, I’ll certainly bear it in mind,” I reflected. And did, while perusing the secondhand books in the Oxfam charity shop.

I selected one by Ranulph Fiennes, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, and wondered why dear old Noel Coward excluded dear, old English ladies.

Oh and did I buy the Yorkshire Post?

Yes, I always do and I always have.

Festive song rings a bell

From: Mrs Pamela Z Frankland, Hull Road, Dunnington, York.

I WAS amused by the letters from D Chambers (Yorkshire Post, December 21) and his moan regarding the song Sleigh Bells, snow or the lack of it with coconut shells to make the noise of horses’ hooves.

Sleigh rides are anything but romantic if our experience is anything to go by.

In Italy over 30 years ago we set off with about 10 sleighs and one pony pulling each one, four people in each, at around 8pm to go up to a mountain hut to listen to music, dance and sing and partake of mulled wine.

The rugs were taken off the ponies and put over us!

The hairs and smells off them – ugh!

We had not travelled far when our sleigh hit a bump and over we went.

Robert (who had put his shoulder out in an accident earlier in the day) took the brunt of it. Gloria, his wife, was hysterical and they refused to get back in the sleigh, despite the driver pleading with them to do so.

We were hysterical with laughter. They had to go on with us all as we were too far away from our hotel.