Fry’s peppermint cream, Spangles and old money

It’s never easy, being perfect.

Not that I would know.

This is the week of the northern play in which I play a Sixties’ housewife. In the course of the action, I cook, I tidy, I fold the laundry, I make pots of tea.

No wonder I’ve been tired. I wouldn’t normally do stuff like that. There is no way I would have survived the 1960s if I had been forced to do housework.

I have a friend who has always done her housework on a Tuesday so I did mine on a Tuesday... I think it was in 1997.


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The northern play also requires me to have a varied wardrobe... of aprons. The drama takes place over three days (no the play isn’t that long, each scene is set at a different time) and so I have a change of pinny to mark the passage of time. Time was I would have had a glamorous frock, now I am forever the actress with support stockings and pinafore.

Although I am not especially enamoured of the housewifely duties of 50 years ago, I rather like working in old money.

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There was something rather pleasing about working to a system that had 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound (young people may wish to refer to their grandparents for more details). This was a time when being British was truly unique; we were the only people who understood our currency. Now we’re metric, we’re the same as everyone else.

My mate Ron Longland, from the bucolic town of Clare, wrote to me on a similar theme, and one close to my heart – chocolate bars we have known and loved.

He writes that he and Carole were at a retirement party and he and a neighbour started reminiscing about times and especially things that used to be, “as you do”.

Ron, he is such a gentleman, wondered if I was old enough to remember them too.

“Fry’s peppermint creams, in aluminium foil, in segments which the eater could snap off.

“I believe I have seen sherbet dips and flying saucers around recently but penny chews now cost 10 pence!

“We were urged on TV to ‘change up to BP Super’, advised that the ‘Esso sign means happy motoring’ and that ‘Murray Mints are the too good to hurry mints’. Car adverts actually featured the vehicles and were not simply a means of showing off for the computer graphics geeks.”

We began with the “good old days” of TV programmes, such as The Avengers.

“In those days, programmes were entertaining. Above all, there was no swearing, no gratuitous violence outside the confines of the plot and very little sex.”

You will not be surprised to learn that I am far too young to remember any of it. (Are you sure this is right, Lynne? Ed)

Ron ponders further: “It is interesting that, out of all the ‘good old’ programmes, no one has yet shown Z Cars or Doctor Who right from the beginning. One programme which died halfway through the plot was The Tripods. What ever happened to them?”

I admit I have found myself wistful for Old English Spangles although, to be honest, I can’t recall any of the flavours. They just seemed more sophisticated than the normal flavours.

If I was able to revive one lost item, I think it would have to be 100 watt light bulbs. I realise this is deeply un-green but when I switch on the landing light with its energy-saving bulbs, I am up the stairs before I get a glimmer, even with these knees.

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