Diving Bells




After a three day diving trip to Eilat, I trudged home from the tram stop feeling a bit, well, elderly, to be honest. My joints hurt and I momentarily cursed Jacques Cousteau for not inventing scuba gear that weighs on land in excess of 65kg, which is a bit like carrying my mother-in-law out of the surf. Fortunately I have no pictures of me – although this might be –  knees momentarily giving way as I hauled my hippopotamine carcass out of the forgiving water on to the beach, gravitationally challenged, and cutting my foot on shard-sharp shingle in the process, being gently helped landward by a muscular Swiss instructor.

Which brought my thoughts to why on earth I didn’t start gambolling in the deep when I was a third of the age I am now.

I was brought up in the Fifties and Sixties – if you can remember them you weren’t there – as we used to say to the spavined, generationally challenged, creatively enfeebled sons and daughters of the 70’s and 80’s. I was also reminded of bananas. I eat quite a lot of them these days – a quick-acting carbohydrate fix would have been quite welcome as I staggered drunkenly out of the water the other afternoon – but when I grew up, they were generally unobtainable. As were a few other things. A friend sent this to me the other day and it brought quite the deluge of childhood resonance to the surface. If you’re in your sixties, and English-bred, quite a few of these might ring a faint, faint bell, like a suzumushi cricket’s.

They didn’t have them in the 50’s neither….

My thanks to an anonymous and elderly scavenger for the following. I’ve taken the liberty of making a few changes…

  • Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
  • All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
  • A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter with funny eyes.
  • Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
  • A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
  • Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
  • Oil was for lubricating engines, fat was used for cooking.
  • Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and was never green.
  • Indian restaurants were found in India, it was supposed.
  • Sugar was regarded as white gold.
  • Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and
 charging more than petrol for it they would have been laughed off the playground.
  • Coffee was Camp, and came in a long square bottle with a picture of a chap in shorts on the label.
  • Cubed sugar was used by snobbish people.
  • Only Heinz made beans.
  • Fish didn’t have fingers.
  • Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.
  • Nobody had ever heard of yoghurt.
  • Few had heard of and nobody had ever seen a mango and certainly had no idea how to spell its plural.
  • Healthy food consisted of anything edible.
  • People who didn’t peel potatoes were lazy.
  • You actually read the fish and chip wrapper after you’d eaten its contents. Especially Page Three.
  • Cooking outside was called camping, often accompanied by diarrhoea or ingestion of carboniferous carcinogens.
  • Seaweed was another name for odoriferous bladderwrack and not recognised as food.
  • “Kebab” was not even a word never mind a food.
  • Prunes were medicinal.
  • Surprisingly, muesli was readily available. It was called cattle feed.
  • Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.
  • The only thing never allowed on the table was elbows.

Plus ça change….