I once read about a tribe of people, living on a little island in the pacific, who got up everyday and did a dance to ensure the sun came up – I guess every now and again they have a lie in. On a less flippant note, we do assume that tomorrow will be just like today and live our lives accordingly, though there is no law which says tomorrow will be like today. The Severn may still be flowing, but the water in it isn’t the same water – the photograph could be 1950, but it’s 2010, cameras do lie and memory is a very selective beast.
In our rose tinted pasts things were black & white, or good or bad, we were young, invincible, devoid of the responsibilities of life – of course it was wonderful. The philosopher Walter Benjamin held that this ‘rose tinted past’ was a place of mourning, a place of loss, and went on to say that it had a political dimension too. It is hard to argue with this point of view. The overwhelming thread in social media, in the railway magazines, books, videos, and ‘gala events’ is a sense of loss, of a hankering for those ‘good olde days’. Days when we didn’t have to think about the uncertainties of life, aching knees, or stomach disorders.
1950 something; only one TV channel, BBC, and that really was black and white – no, now I come to think of it, more of a sort of several shades of soft, furry, greys, the programmes ended around 10.30, and everyone on the box had terribly posh BBC accents. Homes had coal fires not central heating, the dishwasher, in 1950 something, was yer Ma, a tablet was something you got from the chemists and a laptop was a copy of the latest Combined Volume.
Do we really want to go back to no mobile phone, no HD colour TV, no SatNav, NO Google, do away with huge swathes of medical advances, not to mention moving on from a diet of boiled potato, cabbage and a cooked meat.
The photograph is early morning at Bewdley station, ‘Large Prairie’ No. 5164 is running light engine to Kidderminster as No.7802 Bradley Manor sits in Bewdley MPD with a ‘not to be moved’ notice on the buffer.