As a kid I lived in the country in various regions of Scotland. Some were very remote with the nearest town or village being some miles distant. To go to school would be either a three or four mile walk, in all weathers, or, if it was available, a school bus would trundle by and pick all the country bumpkins up and drop us off at the end of the school day.
In 1970 I lived near Glencoe and my primary school was in Ballachulish. Each morning I would walk from the forestry commission house I lived in along a disused railway and into the village. I recall many a time that it would snow so heavily that it became impossible to get out of the house, let alone get to school. These were of course days that you longed for.
Around this time the coinage in the UK was changing from pounds, shillings and pence to what we have today. My first experience of this “new money” was when a boy brought a 50p piece into school. What a wonder it was as it was handed round the class for everyone to see. To me it represented a small fortune. At that point I used to come to school with a penny, roughly the same size as a 50p. This would be equivalent now to less than half a pence. But this penny I had was also divisible into two halfpenny bits. For this princely sum one could buy a pie at play time and some sweets from the mobile van that would come every day. So fifty new pence is equivalent to 120 pennies!
In order for my mother to fill the kitchen cupboards with food we would rely heavily on various mobile shops that would come round each week. There would be the general grocer, which was my favourite as it always had cream cakes on board, a fish van and of course the postman every day, who would take your letters for posting as well as deliver. There was nothing the likes of Asda or Tesco. They just didn’t exist in the form we know them today. The closest supermarket as such would more than likely be either the Coop or the Spar. My mother would always take a list of telephone numbers with her on a visit to “town” where she would use the telephone box there, as we didn’t have a phone in the house.
What a contrast to today. Phoning anyone now, is, well, just a tad more convenient. I can call anyone in the world, at anytime, from almost anywhere, whenever the fancy takes me, on my mobile. In just forty years shopping has also changed beyond all recognition. Mobile grocery vans are now more likely to be an Asda delivery truck delivering shopping you bought at the click of your mouse on your computer while watching Homes Under the Hammer on TV. That letter you’re writing to your cousin in Australia will be with them before the kettle has boiled due to email. And instead of making a postcard that you would pin up in the local paper shop for something you want to sell, in the hope that there is someone locally who wants that item, you can now reach a third of the entire planet! It is also fast becoming a world of no paper money. The proceeds of the sale of my first item on eBay went to PayPal and from there straight into my bank account.
My selling activities are centered around getting rid of my motorcycle. Yes, Trigger is destined for a new home. It was about to go into storage for the winter and potentially would not emerge again until summer 2012 due to some major plans for next year, that may see me away a great deal. On top of that I’ve hardly ridden it at all this year so it was time to say goodbye.
I have an incredible variety of ways to sell the bike. Ebay has been my initial choice, but there are online magazines, Gumtree and a myriad of other websites all offering a service to sell your items. But I’m also creating a colour postcard in a tip-of-the-hat to the old days.
I’m about to wander along and pin it up on the notice board of my local Coop.