Everything. And by that I really do mean every single thing. Was better in the past.
How I adored the days when a drive to the coast would be preluded by hours and hours checking the car, filling up with coolant and oil, adjusting the tyre pressure and fiddling with the engine. Only, of course, to break down along the way just the same.
How I adored the days when TV consisted of just two channels, when the entire population would watch the same episode of Morecombe and Wise and talk about it the day after. (Of course, there was also ITV, but that was only for the 'common' children.)
How I adored the days when you would arrange to meet a friend for dinner, cinema, theatre, sports, dates or what-not and you simply had to turn up on time. No text messages about running late. No turning up at the wrong place and quickly sorting with a phonecall.
How I adored the days when, not only were your parents allowed to smack you in the street, but could also smack any other child who was being mischievous. When bank holiday Monday meant long hours sitting stationary on single carriageway A- and B- roads. When there was no such thing as health and safety, when children were allowed to play on badly made British swings and slides that would slice their legs on protruding shards of metal. How I adored the days when nothing worked. When loading a computer game took whole minutes and then didn't play anyway.
How I adored the days when VHS and Betamax battled for supremacy. When a trip to the cinema was like sitting in a flea pit. How I adored the days.
Nothing is better now. Nothing.
And how I adored the days when teachers were teachers and kids were kids. When it was normal to be clipped around the ear, when a teacher could call you a moron and your parents didn't try to sue for emotional damages. How I adored the days when messing about in class meant having the shit scared out of you by a mortar-boarded, cape adorning demon headmaster. How I adored the days when teachers told you stuff, told you what to do and you did it. And not just you, everyone. The days when ADHD was recognised for what it is – a whinging, irritating and badly behaved kid. How I adored the days when teachers were funny. When it was ok for a teacher to have a laugh with the kids and to take the piss out of them without some lily-livered, flaccid, middle-middle-class bleeding heart parent calling for them to be sacked.
How I adored the days before 'learning styles', 'personalised learning', 'student voice' and 'parent choice'. How I adored the days when schools were what they were – a place where you were lucky to go to, where it was your responsibility to learn. And your family would make sure you bloody well did. How I adored the days when my teachers wrote these words on my school reports: "as Mark opens his mouth to sing, the other boys leave the room", "I have met boys with less talent in art than Mark, but none who managed to be so consistently bad", "One year without being excluded? How about it? There's a good chap."
How I adored the days.
How I adored the days when, as a teacher, I could have a laugh. With colleagues we would send kids to another classroom to ask for a 'long weight (wait)', we would play the 'stand behind the ugliest kid game' in exam halls, we would go off on elaborate stories in lessons, we would ignore inspectors and government initiative. How I adored the days when we had spunk.
Nothing is better now. What has become of the profession? I continually meet these po-faced, weak spirited, uninspiring teachers. These young, fresh-faced wimps straight from college. They believe all the diktat. Do as they are told. Stay out of trouble.
How I adored the days when teachers were strong. When teachers were professional, they knew about learning and got on with the job and did not bow to idiotic policy makers.
How I adored the days. But I guess I am ancient now. I guess that what this new Britain wants, in all its X-Factor consuming, male-grooming, ladette form is to be controlled. To be nannied by the State and to be numb to any notion of having to think for oneself. I guess what this new Britain wants is a society that thinks there is no difference between private and public behaviour, that it is ok to boo and jeer at anyone, that there is no boundary between adult and child and that it is perfectly ok to raise your kids to be rude. Yes, I am ancient now. But I'm not sure that what we have now is what we had dreamed.
Everything was better in the past. Goodbye Britain.