Those were the days my friend

For years now, Scooby Doo has been entertaining my kids, and also for years, I’ve been telling them that I used to watch Scooby Doo when I was a kid. Every time. They must be thrilled when they see me coming with the same nugget of nostalgia. The blank looks and implicit shrugs say it all. They can’t actually remember a time when they couldn’t pause the TV or choose what they want to watch on Netflix, so my little trips down memory lane mean nothing to them – they think I watched TV exactly like they do.

So when I went for coffee with the eight-year-old recently, I was thrilled when she said, “So mum, what was life like when you were a little girl – what was different?” Finally! Someone wanted to know!

I straightened up in my chair and got ready to tell her everything about life growing up in a small Cork village in the 1980s.


I told her that lots of mums didn’t work back then, sometimes because of a rule called the Marriage Bar, which meant they had to give up work when they got married. She was suitably horrified.

I told her that we didn’t have mobile phones – we had just one landline in the hall, and it was connected to the wall by a cable. She reckoned she’d seen something like this before. She said mobiles are probably a good thing for staying in touch when you’re out and about, but can be annoying when they ring a lot. “But then, there is an off switch,” she said. Indeed.

I told her that we were allowed out to play alone from a younger age, and that parents today tend to worry more about traffic and danger than our own parents did. She said it probably depends on where you live, and that being allowed out gives you confidence and independence. Point taken.

I told her that we only had two TV channels and you just had to watch whatever was on, even if it was a grown-up programme or Nuacht. But we did have Anything Goes at the weekend – Saturday morning TV was special. She liked the sound of that, especially the donut eating competitions, where children had to try not to lick the sugar off their lips (Oh what I would have given to be in that competition.)

I told her we didn’t have as wide a variety of food as she does now, but that we always had chips on Saturday, made in a deep fat fryer. I told her we had a Soda Stream, and explained how that worked. Her eyes widened at that – imagine, fizzy drinks on tap. She doesn’t even like fizzy drinks, but still. Amazing.

I told her that actually, school probably wasn’t all that different from school today. Blackboards instead of whiteboards, Anne and Barry instead of phonics. And a projector for Irish. Or comhrá with felt words on a board. I lost her when I tried to explain that.

“When you were a kid they were modern I suppose,” she said. “And when I’m a grown-up, everything we have today will be old-fashioned.” I guess that’s true. Then again, she just spent the afternoon cycling around the estate with her friend, and now she’s watching Scooby Doo. Maybe nothing changes very much at all.

Scooby Doo

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14 thoughts on “Those were the days my friend”

  1. Oh this is lovely. I love foisting my nostalgia upon my children. But I agree that some things never change. Mine have taken to playing out in the front garden for hours on end with a few toys and sometimes some chalk. I have no idea what they are playing but they seem very content. I did exactly the same thing when I was growing up. Somehow playing in the ‘front’ garden seemed to make us feel like we were much more grown up!
    Sadhbh @ Where Wishes Come From recently posted…Get Crafty Review + GiveawayMy Profile

    1. That’s it – mine had their coats on and breakfast eaten at 8.45 this morning so they could go out scooting out the front, and solving mysteries 🙂
      Now I need them to come back in so I can get a shower – I’m not ready to leave them outside completely unsupervised yet!

    2. I loved this, my kids often ask about “the olden days too”. My five year old seems to think that the dinosaurs were out when granny was a little girl so he’s a little confused. I love that my seven year old gets that things weren’t invented yet, like mobile phones and iPads, but every now and then a new discovery blows him away.
      Sinead @ bumbles of rice recently posted…Review and Giveaway: Get Crafty by Ali CoghlanMy Profile

  2. I love all these, I had forgotten half of them. Remember the tschh sound of the soda stream when it pumped gas into the drink? That sticks out for some reason. I don’t remember the books we had at school at all, or how it was taught, but I remember what we played and the big events, like when someone broke the head off the statue of Mary on the May alter (imagine the horror of the nuns).

    A while back my son (assuming all tv was black and white for me as a child) asked me did I live in a black and white world too?

    Thanks for the memories, lovely post.
    Naomi Lavelle recently posted…How high do birds fly?My Profile

    1. That’s funny about the head of the statue of Mary – when I was being asked about what school was like as a kid, my memory of what my classroom looked like is hugely based on one very vivid recollection of girls lining up to swing off the door jamb and then one (a teacher’s daughter if I remember correctly) fell off and broke her arm. She was fine of course, but yes, the big events are the ones that punctuate our memories aren’t they, and perhaps cement them for us!

  3. The youth of today will never know the delights of Bosco and Fortycoats…growing up in Dublin in the 80’s might have been a bit more advanced than a village in Cork but the TV was the same!

    1. Fortycoats was THE BEST. And yes, there’s no water-cooler TV for kids today – they’re all watching different things. It’s just not he same. I often ask visiting kids what they like on TV, and mine usually haven’t heard of what they’re watching and vice versa – they literally can’t chat about TV!

  4. Oh how I love this post! Andy and I were only talking about this the other day and how Tabs will never know of a time without mobile phones or computers. We had chip night on a saturday too, we still do! And the soda stream! We were never allowed the syrup, so we used cordial, it was gross but so much fun!

    1. We still chips most Saturday nights too – I’m very stuck in childhood rituals and my husband is left bemused (“what do you mean a stir-fry isn’t a Saturday dinner – who makes these rules?!)
      And so true, they’ll never know a time without mobiles or computers – and who knows what other things are ahead that will make today’s technology seem old-school 🙂

  5. Ah loved this trip down memory lane. My youngest (then 13) gave out one day last Summer because she went to a party and everyone was on their phone. She said she wished she grew up in the ‘old days’.
    I’d prefer our days, but couldn’t imagine not having my phone now.

    1. Having just picked up a bike for free on and having spent the day visiting lovely friends who moved three counties away but with whom we stay in touch on Whats App I’m a big fan of present day phone and internet life this weekend. But I do wonder where it will all end, when I see entire tables of people in restaurants staring at their phones. I guess every generation had it’s good and bad developments and you can’t have one without the other? Your daughter is a wise one 🙂

    1. That’s it – videos, cassette tapes, walkmans, those ear-phones with the spongey bits and metal to go over your head – and it’s not that long ago really, but all gone!

  6. Oh that brings me back! My kids were fascinated by the idea of halfpennies and that you could buy sweets loose depending on how much money you had.
    We were lucky enough to live in Meath with an arierl and get a whole six channels. We always felt sorry for anyone who only go two channels 🙂

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