The more it changes…
It is Spring Bank Holiday of 1936. On the beach in Weston-super Mare in Somerset, the 10 year old boy sits with his mother and father under a clear blue sky. Sunlight dances on a gentle in-coming tide. The beach is crowded with small family groups. The boy wears his school cap.
Times at home are bad this year, due to economic depression resulting from a Stock Market crash and unemployment, France has devalued the franc and Italy the lira. German banks are bankrupt. Ramsay MacDonald, founder of the Labour Party and nominal head of an uneasy coalition with the Conservative Party is about to retire in disgrace. The World War, in which the boy’s father fought, was over long ago, but it is an uneasy peace with Spanish Civil War and Italian invasion of ABYSSINIA.
The situation of the monarchy is uneasy. Last summer the 10 year old’s school had celebrated George V’s Silver Jubilee with a procession, a street party and a jubilee mug to record it. (Whatever happened to that mug?) This evening there will be Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times” at the Odeon. On the wireless Al Bowlly sings “Goodnight Sweetheart” with Ray Noble’s Orchestra. A speck of sand on the breeze. The boy blinks……………..
……….And blinks again. It is the Spring Bank Holiday of 2011… On the Little Shore in Amble, the 85-year old man sits with his wife under a clear blue sky. Sunlight dances on a gentle incoming tide. The beach is crowded with small family groups. The man wears his Panama hat.
Times at home are bad this year, due to economic recession resulting from a Stock Market crash. There is rising unemployment, widespread cuts in private and public expenditure and extensive redundancy.
The World War in which the boy served was over long ago, but it is an uneasy peace with civil war in Libya and British soldiers dying in Afghanistan. The European currency is devalued. An uneasy coalition of Conservatives and Liberals has replaced the discredited Labour Prime Minister.
The monarchy, which survived abdication, is alive and well, approaching the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We have had a royal wedding and accompanying street parties; the old man can replace his long lost Jubilee mug. We can watch “Carry on Girls” with Sidney James and Barbara Windsor. BBC2 no longer offers dance music.
The old man surveys the small groups of children each on their own private square of sand, busy with bright plastic spades. Usually now with mums and grans rather than mums and dads and no 10 year old boys, with or without school caps. “Nether the less…….” He muses, “the more it remains the same.”