Plus ça change – well no, it isn’t a bit the same

As Tim says, everything was delivered, or at any rate, it could be.  If my mother decided I needed a new dress, for example, we might go to the shop or she might phone and ask for a selection of dresses in my size to be sent ‘on approval.’  They would duly turn up, I’d try them on and one would be chosen and the rest sent back.  Come to that, if my mother wanted to buy something for herself, she wouldn’t try it on in the shop unless she really did need to buy there and then.  She’d pick out things she liked the look of, take them away on approval and try them on at home.  Very civilised.

Oh, moving on a decade or two, do you remember the ghastly time when shops did away with individual cubicles and had communal changing rooms?  What on earth was that about?  It only lasted a few years, I should think clothes sales plummeted in that time.  Even if you were reasonably confident about your body and few enough women are, stripping off and trying on clothes among strangers is just awful.

You never picked up things in shops and took them to a till, an assistant came to help you.

What was sold back in the 50s and 60s that isn’t available now?  I can think of soda syphons – you sent them back to the shop to be refilled, or maybe there was a deposit on them – which came to the same thing, you always needed soda water on hand, even if only to add to whisky.  Lemonade came in glass bottles with a deposit on them – they were still around in the late 1970s, I remember buying fizzy ‘nade for my older children.

Smiths Crisps (did it have an apostrophe?  I can’t remember) with its little twist of salt that you unwrapped and sprinkled into the packet of crisps, then held the top of the bag and shook to distribute.  Years later they tried reintroducing it, but it was in little sealed squares and it wasn’t the same at all.

Sweetshops, with their glass jars of sweets – they’re still about, though there aren’t too many of them, but the jars are plastic now.  Why did some sweets vanish while others are still made?  Spangles, for example.  Other sweets that we ate then are still about, though you do need a proper sweetshop to find them, such as sherbet fountains (though the tube of liquorice is hygienically wrapped nowadays which does rather spoil things), aniseed balls with the little seed at their centre (aniseed balls rarely have that nowadays, which is a bit of a cheat).  Walnut whips can be bought now, but they cheesepared many years ago by removing the walnut half from the inside – it used to be embedded in the base of the chocolate – and only leaving the one on top.  And surely they’re smaller than they used to be, or is it just that I’m bigger.  Do Wagon Wheels still exist?  They got smaller, for sure.

If you would like to add your own recollections, let me have the email you use for your Blogger account (I don’t know if it would work for other blogs, though we could give it a go) and I’ll add you to the list of people who can post on this blog (I think this is awfully brave of me)- you can add to this one or write a post of your own.  If there is any enthusiasm for the idea, Tim suggests we could start a blog on the subject  – it might be fun to share memories.  I expect it would flare brightly as we remember things and then we’d all snap back to the present, but that doesn’t matter. 

7 comments on “Plus ça change – well no, it isn’t a bit the same

  1. georgie

    Christmas windows..many merchants would have animated displays during the holidays.
    I wish they still made Heath bar ice cream bars, like they did in the 1960s.

  2. allotmentqueen

    The sizes of chocolate bars have gradually shrunk over the last few years. It’s a way of absorbing rising production costs without increasing the price on the shelf.

    Although, theoretically, this is good for our waistlines, because they now sell packs of 4 for £1, then the temptation is to eat two bars instead of one, thus defeating any saving of calories.

    We now have a local proper sweet shop, which always seems to be busy. Pick’n’Mix bags especially popular.

  3. Mike and Ann

    I know of two sweet shops that still sell REAL aniseed balls (with the seed at the centre); one in Ipswich and one here in our High Street. Our senior Swedish Granddaughter loves them, and we always take a quarter of a pound to Sweden for her (I know it’s not really a quarter of a pound these days- but that’s what I ask for, and it’s more or less what I get. The other thing that most of the grandchildren like (even some of the ones now in their twenties) is liquorice root. They sold us two sticks for a halfpenny, and you didn’t need coupons for them as they weren’t on ration. Our High Street sweet shop sells them, as do most health food shops.

  4. PixieMum

    I remember buying sherbert lemons from the one sweet shop that was open on a Sunday afternoon. that must have been about 1960.

    There is a ‘real’ sweet shop in Twickenham, Martha bought some sherbert lemons as a treat but somehow the taste had changed. Not sure whether my taste or the taste of the sweets but they weren’t the same.

    I’m so enjoying reading about your home life, hope others will follow suite.

  5. dinahmow

    Sliders!(In NZ,early 50s we called them Eskimo Pies.)
    And I think Dolly Mixtures have disappeared.
    In little towns there were no “garden centres” – we could buy seedlings from the greengrocer, who carefully dug them from flats(proper, wooden ones)and wrapped them in newspaper.
    Oh! And we could earn pocket money by lugging the old papers to the butcher.
    I’ll write a post, I think, or you’ll be jammed!

  6. wendz

    We’ve got two old-fashioned sweet shops in town. I always use one as the owners, a husband and wife, are quite lovely. Actually it’s not I who uses it, but the boys. The husband likes to engage them in long-winded conversations about his times in France and thankfully they always take part politely. We’ve had to go in and rescue them at times. 🙂

    I went in last week to buy some candy alphabets to send the boys and the wife sent their love and hugs to go along with the sweets – which is one of the reasons I love that shop. You don’t get that sort of interaction in most other places.

    I should use it more – they also sell baking stuff – as I’d hate them to close for lack of support. It smells so yummy in there too.

    M buys Wagon Wheels occasionally – out of nostalgia- and he said they have definitely shrunk – quite disgusted he was, last time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.