Everybody’s saying that our society is making progress but I have my doubts, sometimes I think we’re going backwards. For example, take the new print, they’re using in the newspapers these days, it’s smaller, quite blurred, and much more difficult to read than the old stuff. I ask you, is that progress? Once, I could prop the morning paper up against the teapot on the breakfast table and read the news. Now, we don’t have teapots, only do-it-yourself instant teabags and if I want to read the paper, I have to put it on the floor and stand on the dining chair, just to read the headlines, because of the small print, progress, huh! And rum isn’t the same anymore, its nothing like as strong. When I was in the Navy and first drew my tot it got me half cut, two would put me on my back, now with this watered down stuff you can drink two bottles and just feel maudling, that’s not progress.
And its the same with phone books, they’re using smaller, blurrier print in those too. The other day in town I tried to get a number from the telephone book in the street kiosk and it was hopeless. I had to prop the book up and then back halfway across the street in order to read the print. I would have been knocked over and killed if it wasn’t for a nice young boy dressed-up in a policeman’s uniform who rescued me from the traffic. He said I should get myself some glasses, huh! What do kids know, what would a man of my age want with spectacles?
I don’t get into town much these days, I only went in then because somebody told me the off-license was selling Pussers rum, but the town’s changed so much I never found the shop, so I don’t know if they were or not, because the civvy rum isn’t what it used to be you know, it’s much weaker. These days I don’t like travelling on the train either. They leave sooner than they used to and if you run to catch one they start a lot quicker, and nowadays you can’t rely on the timetable or the ticket collectors. Last week I asked the ticket collector seven times, “Is the next stop mine?” and each time the bugger said “No.” I mean! How can you trust someone like that? This week I got off three stops too soon. That’ll teach the awkward bastard to get smart with me, and the rum they sell these days is like water.
Have you noticed they’re building stairs a lot, lot steeper than they used to, and it’s further between floors. I think the risers are higher and there are more of them, and they are much more difficult and dangerous to walk down than they used to be.
Revolving doors go around a lot faster than they used to. I let a few openings go by before I buck up the courage to jump in. Then, when I get myself organised to jump out, I’m back in the bloody street again, how can that be progress?
Even the weather’s changed lately. The summers are a lot hotter and the winters are a darn site colder and the rains a lot wetter. Even draughts are more severe then they used to be, windows seem to let the wind through, I think its the way they make them, progress! I think not.
Service has got very slack nowadays too. Only a few years ago my barber used to hold the mirror up behind me so I could approve of what he’d done. The slack sod doesn’t even bother now. I blame the government, I don’t know who’s in at the moment, but I’m against ‘em. And what the bloody Council are up to, god only knows, they’ve stuck a fair sized hill in the middle of my street that wasn’t there before.
And clothes aren’t what they used to be. Take suit material for instance. The other day I bought a suit. Well! I say the other day, but it could have been a couple of years ago. Come to think of it, I bought it for the funeral of the Prime Minister? Now, what was his name? Harold Wilson, No Anthony Eden no, anyway it was some name I don‘t now recall but it wasn’t that long ago, and I paid good money for it. One Pound, seventeen and six-pence ha’ penny, if I remember rightly, I know I didn’t get much change from two quid. I’ve always believed in buying quality, you see.
The other day I tried it on and guess what. It had shrunk really badly. Funny thing was the coat around the shoulders had stretched, but the trousers around the seat and the waist had shrunk really, really badly, especially, around the seat I blame it on all these newfangled sympathetic materials they use these days, what’s wrong with wool? Call that progress?
Still, I don’t really need a suit because I don’t go out so much these days. Everywhere is too far away for my liking. I do enjoy getting out the magnifying glass and reading the obituary column in the newspaper. You wouldn’t believe how interesting the obituaries have become lately. I don’t like driving these days; the traffic lights are confusing, they’ve changed all the roads around and somebody’s mucked about with the highway code rules.
Last week I got stopped driving around a roundabout by a young police sergeant. He said, “Do you know you’re driving the wrong way around a roundabout?” Then he added in a sort of sarcastic voice ’sir’. Well, that got my hackles up, he couldn’t have been more than fourteen years old and he’s getting smart with me, a man of … mature years. So I thought I’ll be polite, pretend I hadn’t noticed he was just a kid but at the same time pull an old trick, that never fails. I said, “I’m very sorry officer, I’ve been caught short I need to answer a call of nature.”
Then, when he didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about I said “You see, I was in a hurry because I’ve got to find a,” then realizing he was only a boy and not wishing to offend him by using unsavoury language I spelt it out – “S-h-i-t-house.” He gave me a really big smile and said: “Well sir, you’re very fortunate because you’ve just found one, I am he.”
Well! I was stunned, that trick had never failed to work before. He said to me “Are you the driver of this vehicle?” Well! I’m the only bugger in the car, so I thought if you want to get smart with me son, I can play that game too. I said, “Well officer, it is an automatic car but I like to be here if I’m needed.”
He said “Ho, ho, ho, sir. I suspect one of us has been drinking, haven’t we?” I said, “I don’t know about you mate, but I’ve had two bottles of rum but I’m absolutely stone cold sober on account the bloody government are watering the civvy rum down, these days.”
He gave me another nice big friendly smile and said “Oh well! That’s alright then sir, isn’t it? No harm done, aye?” My case comes up next week.
Apart from that I don’t drive much these days, everywhere is too far away and the petrol stations with toilets have been moved too far apart, progress, you can keep it. And it’s not just the big things, its lots of, little things too, like rum, that’s nothing like as strong as it used to be when I was in the Navy and boot laces, now you wouldn’t think there was anything they could muck-up about boot laces would you, but guess what, they’ve started making them shorter. Last pair of boot laces I bought I couldn’t even reach them they were that short. Progress, I don’t think so.
And they’re making armchairs lower and narrower these days, last night to took two people to pull me up and out of mine and belts! All the belts I own have shrunk. Not one is long enough to go around my waist now, I blame the Government, with their penny-pinching ways I suspect it’s them that’s watering down the rum.
Only last week, or maybe a few years ago I went to a Navy reunion with the intention of meeting some old mates that I’ served with, but what a bunch of doddering old farts turned up. They were all far too old to have been in the same Navy as me, but they kept on yammering about runs down the gut and the time they drank ten tots on their birthday, dreamers. I met an old mate of mine who was in the same mess as me on the Victorious, he’d got so old he didn’t recognize me. I said, “hello George blimey you’ve packed on the weight since you got out”. George smiled and said, “my name is not George, its Kenneth and I could add that people in glass houses..”
George always was a smart bugger ready with a cocky answer, he should have been a policeman. I said, “Do you remember when we were in 32 mess on the Victorious I used to give you my tot when I had the middle watch?” He said, “I’ve never served on the Vic, you’ve mistaken me for some other poor sucker.” I said, “George, you always was good at making up excuses for not buying me a drink, do you know I suspect that the Government is watering down the rum?” He said “You’re not still going on about that are you? The last time I saw you at the Prime Ministers funeral you were claiming the government was watering down the rum.” I said “That wasn’t me old mate. I’ve never been to any Prime Ministers funeral, your memory is going.”
That’s what I mean about progress, half the people I know are losing their memories while the second half have already lost their marbles and the third half have got their names in the bloody obituary column. If that’s progress I don’t want it, I’ll stay home with my watered down rum.
The bloody progressive world will have to try to get along without me. So there! My wife tells me its all my fault for not embracing modern technology, I could handle it if I wanted to, it’s just that I have chosen to turn my back on the so-called modern technology ever since I caught my tie in that pop-up toaster. I could have burnt to death right there in the kitchen if my wife hadn’t thrown her coffee over me, the electric shock nearly finished me, so I say, all these modern inventions can be dangerous, I suspect the Government are hiding the figures of how many people are burnt to death by pop up toasters, or electrocuted by them. I also reckon they’re hiding the figures of how many old sailors are dying of disappointment because they’re watering down the rum.