One theme keeps recurring: “Ah, but we had more fun in the old days” and it is a theme whose truth is very difficult to assess from reminiscence. Did the people get more enjoyment from the amusements they created for themselves, or is the fun transfigured by the warm glow of the past. There is no doubt in the mind of Mrs. Poole of “The Red Lion,” Margaretting, Essex, when she says:
Of course, things are not what they used to be. Specially Christmas, these days. We used to be able to supply everybody with anything they wanted, in the way of a bit of Christmas cheer. But not now, I’m afraid. They all used to come in, happy and excited, on Christmas Eve, all laden up with parcels and baskets full of good things. You could feel the excitement in the very atmosphere, and see it on their faces as plain as a pikestaff. And half of ‘em would forget their stuff before the evening was over, and on Christmas morning the bar would be littered with chickens and ducks and turkeys and goodness knows what else. And then they’d have to call back to collect their Christmas dinners. Mind you, I always did think it was a dodge, so they could get a quick one in early. Oh, but it was lovely in those days. I hope it won’t be too long before they come back. Roast pork, sides of beef, turkeys, chicken, sausages - real sausages, I mean - and all the rest of it. Pigs’ trotters, now. You never see ‘em about at all now. Anybody’d think pigs don’t have legs nowadays, you never see them in the shops.
Extract from ‘Country Magazine. Book of the B.B.C. Programme’ compiled and edited by Francis Dillon. (Odhams Press, London, c1950).