You know, getting old is not so bad, I think of it as natural progression – like the immense changes that have occurred in my lifetime. And one can cherish memories, well the happy ones anyway – and most of us can remember those no matter how old we are – as for the ones better forgotten, well I guess they helped show the way in appreciating the happier times.
Memories can spring from the most unexpected things. Locally I noticed, tucked away behind a wall, the remnants of an old Victorian style lamp-post. Then a tune rumbled in my mind, the lyrics sung by Sammy Kaye -something about the old lamplighter and how he made the night brighter all those years ago.
Then the mind flashed back, I was a kid again playing in the street with my mates, as we did then – cars scarce, only the well- off could afford them and they never travelled more than 25MPH in the side roads.
Come dusk, the lamplighter would turn up on his bicycle, armed with a long pole with a hook on the end which, when attached to a lever on the lamp, would turn up the gas flame. This he would do regularly at dusk and again in the dawn when it was time to dowse the flame. There were about twenty lamps in our street but in the flick of an eyelid, the job was completed and he was off to the next one.
But now the song haunts my mind, how the lamplighter of long, long ago was part of our lives, his smile would cheer a lonely heart, if there were sweethearts in the park, he’d pass a lamp and leave it dark.
Yes it is good being old given such wonderful memories when life was so very much simpler and uncomplicated and I consider myself one of the fortunate ones in belonging to my generation, having lived through those times, along into the swinging sixties when the music revolution regenerated our lives which had been dulled by the trauma of a terrible war felt for years afterwards.
But much has to be said for progress although to some of us there is much left to be desired, those virtues of the past which seem lost forever and I find myself praying that future generations will resolve all the present day problems, but without hope there is nothing and as I was recently reminded; the young, like I was in the days of the lamplighter, know no different so do not fret, everything is meant to be, not for us to judge or wonder why.
I hope so, like the lamplighter, redundant during the war when all lights were dowsed, there was another song – sung by another of my generation, the inimitable Vera Lynn, it was called “When the lights come on again, all over the world!”
And sure enough they did, and the lamplighter was happy again.
It was a brave new world and there was everything to live for.
Aged 78 now retired, Have written for magazines and newspapers
My first novel, Queen of misfortune was published in February 2011
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