First Person - with Debbie Clarke

Debbie Clarke, Fife Free Press
Debbie Clarke, Fife Free Press

I’D love to be able to travel back in time to the early 1950s.

This week I visited residents at the Raith Gates care home in Kirkcaldy to hear about their memories of the Queen’s coronation.

They spoke about how everyone in their street came together to celebrate Elizabeth II being crowned Queen. They all brought out tables and covered them with white tablecloths and decorated their homes with flags and streamers. Community spirit was alive and well.

One elderly lady said that they couldn’t afford to go to the shops and buy cakes and scones, so they made them from scratch. They didn’t have fancy fillings on their sandwiches either - it was corned beef or boiled ham - and I am sure it was very tasty!

TV in black & white

What was really nice is they said whatever they had in their cupboards they would bring it out and share it with everyone else. Can you imagine that happening now?

They would gather together and sing songs and play street games. They had to find ways of entertaining themselves because not everyone had a television set.Only those who seemed to be better off could afford such a luxury... and the pictures were black and white!

I would have loved to have been around at that time. I like the idea of everyone coming together and celebrating, whether it be a community party in a hall or a gathering in the street. I like the thought of everyone bringing whatever foods they had and sharing it with everyone else. It sounds like it was a time when people were contented with what they had and even though it wasn’t much, it didn’t seem to matter.

These days we live in a society which seems to be very materialistic. A street party now would probably have people turning up with fancy sandwiches from Marks and Spencer and specially-designed Jubilee cakes and sweets. People would likely be busy rushing around right up until the last minute so they wouldn’t have time to bake or prepare sandwiches!

Wii want more

In the early 1950s, neighbours would have saved up to buy a new outfit, complete with a hat, for the special occasion. Now we would likely hunt through our wardrobes and throw on a pair of jeans with a top we could find that wasn’t in the washbasket. In 2012, fold down tables would be brought out complete with Jubilee-coloured tablecloths - purchased from a local supermarket - and there would be red, white and blue plastic cups and plates which would have been bought cheaply.

There would be music playing - CDs blaring out a kitchen window and if we wanted to watch some of the national celebrations we could just nip back into our homes and watch it on our large plasma screen televisions in either the kitchen, living room or bedroom.

Children would be in the street playing but we wouldn’t want them to play ball games in case they accidentally hit an expensive car.

Besides, they would probably only be outside for about 10 minutes before they would be bored and want to go back inside to play tennis on the Wii.

In the 1950s children would be out playing games in the streets with their friends for hours. They got plenty of exercise because they were constantly running around.

Sixty years ago everyone probably knew the names of all their neighbours and they would likely spend a lot of time with them at community organised events. In 2012, we are lucky if we even pass our neighbours on the stairs once a week never mind every day!

So it would be nice if for just one day we could all come together and celebrate the Queen’s 60-year reign ... before we all head back indoors to watch our favourite Sky programmes.