Getting old?

Some young people

If you are prone to say ‘I remember when..’ you may be getting on a little.  (Mind you, it is when you say ‘I can’t remember…’ that you need to worry.)   Anyway, I thought I would devise a little test for readers to determine whether they fall in the not-so-young, young, or child prodigy category.   Try answering the following:

1. Can you remember trains pre-Beeching (i.e. when disused tracks now used as cycle paths actually had railway tracks)?

2. Can you remember when The Times switched to carrying news on the front page?

3. Can you remember (a) President Kennedy, (b) President Nixon, or (c) President Reagan?

4. Can you remember when you had to use a manual typewriter to prepare essays and other manuscripts?  (And having to re-type a complete manuscript when you made a serious mistake?)

5. Did you ever set eyes on a Sinclair C5? 

6. Do you recall when the only telephones were those with cables attached?

7. Do you remember when the only means of sending a written communication was by ordinary mail (or telegram)? 

8. Do you remember as PM (a) Harold Wilson, (b) Edward Heath or (c) Margaret Thatcher?

9. Do you remember watching Yes, Prime Minister when it was first broadcast?

10. Do politicians nowadays generally look 12-years-old?

If you answered yes to any of these, you are not-so-young.  If you answered yes to all of them, you are a person of great experience.  If you answered no to all of them, then you are the future….


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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27 Responses to Getting old?

  1. Peta says:

    What an appropriate quiz. I have just returned from lunch with some girls I was a school with. We have not seen each other for many years and over lunch decided we sounded like the “Grumpy Old Women” from the TV show. There was a good deal of “do you remember when”going on.

    I remember Andy Pandy so can answer yes to a majority of your questions my Lord and am happy to join those of “great experience” and young at heart!

    • Lord Norton says:

      Peta: Talking of ‘Andy Pandy’ reminds me that recently a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, got excited when he discovered that Floella Benjamin had been ennobled as Baroness Benjamin. ‘Playschool’ was apparently crucial to his formative development. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I arranged for Baroness Benjamin to sign a card for him. He was ecstatic. He is 42.

      • Peta says:

        I think that’s charming my Lord. Now, if you every happen to bump into Andy Pandy. . . . . .

  2. Carl.H says:

    I am, apparently, not-so-young but would be a person of great experience had my parents been better off and able to understand or have preferred The Times rather than, back then, The Daily Mirror.

    MPs are young nowadays, it’s Doctors and Police that are worrying to look at.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: In that case, you presumably remember the original Andy Capp?

      Nowadays, it seems to be anyone in authority! I remember when Sir Michael Willcocks took up his position as Black Rod in the House of Lords and Baroness Carnegy turned round and exclaimed ‘They’ve appointed a 12-year-old!’. Admittedly, Sir Michael was not of a tall stature, if I may put it like that, and had a fairly baby face.

  3. Frank-replying-to-PLNBoL-post says:

    Lord Norton,
    I am in the largely yes or too foreign to know category. However, I think you showed more “skin” as regards the life of the mind in your last question than I have almost ever seen in one of your posts. That is my opinion. You are surely entitled…

  4. Frank-replying-to-PLNBoL-post says:

    Lord Norton,

    Today I must ask, what do you remember of early spaceflight?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Frank-replying-to-PLNBoL-post: Isn’t there the Fifth Amendment?

      • Carl.H says:

        I can neither confirm nor deny I know anything about such things.


        Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Apollo 13.

      • franksummers3ba says:

        Lord Norton,

        I am not sure it applies here. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt…

    • franksummers3ba says:

      Carl H,

      I know thwm well from history and living memory but will confess or rejoice (depending on my mood) that Gagarin and the Mercury Seven were both at their heyday before my time. My earliest memories of important worldwide things happened not only in the Apollo era but really were the Apollo missions. I still have a part of my mind that measures all other public acievement and unity, in America especially, by the Apollo program.

  5. ladytizzy says:


    OK, I’ve never actually seen a C5 – can I trade that for having a nuclear alert system in my home?

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: Perhaps I should say remember what a C5 was. It was probably only a few of us who actually got to see one – I saw one being pedalled on Charing Cross Road.

  6. Chris K says:

    I answered no to all.

    The big technological advance I remember, just, was getting cable television in the mid-90s. And then a big, white, hideous computer (running on Windows 95 and later 98) which was connected to the internet by means of the telephone (which meant we couldn’t make or receive calls) and everything was dead slow to load.

    My earliest political memory is accompanying my parents to the polling station in 1997. I knew of Tony Blair’s name and existence, but that was it. I also sensed their resignation to the fact we were going to be stuck with him for a while.

    • Carl.H says:

      Chris get back in the cot 😉

      You make me feel soooooo old. Those things you mentioned were yesterday.

      • franksummers3ba says:

        Carl. H,

        Close, but I made a bit of fun talking with a young technophile the other day (hoping to get him to see my point of view) by saying: “Can you imagine that there was a time that Google had the same logo every time you brought up the search engine?”

        I felt he had matured when with a look of recognition he answered with a straight face and said with me the next line “How did people survive?”

  7. David Rostron says:

    Just for once I could answer all ten qustions with ease, does that make me old or good at history? I remember cheese and chocolate still being rationed, just one television channel in back and white, telephones without a dial facility, you picked it up and waited for the operator to connect you.
    I was there and more importantly I’m still here.

    • Lord Norton says:

      David Rostron: That’s impressive. If there was a prize, you would be the winner…..

    • Carl.H says:

      Yes, David wins this won and has made me feel middle aged again rather than old.

      Incidently talking of operator assisted phones, the old number of Scotland Yard, Whitehall 1212, is still used on the end of a number of police stations numbers.

      • David Rostron says:

        To me Lord Norton is just a young lad. I just about remember the bad winter of 1947. Listen with mother on the wireless (a word thats come back in use). Being off school with scarlet fever turning the wireless on to listen to ‘Robin Hood’ getting somber music to be told the King had died. The Times loosing the advertisements on the front page. If I remember correctly when the Daily Mirror to over The Times ownership The Times had a page 3 girl, todays question ‘Who was it’, a clue is ‘it is what you would expect from The Times’.
        I will add the answer tomorrow.

  8. David Rostron says:

    The page 3 girl in The Time was ‘The Spirit of Ecstasy’ the car mascot of Rolls-Royce.

  9. Alice Stretch says:

    I’m rather embarrassed to say I wasn’t there for any of them. But I’ll take comfort in the fact that “I am the future” 🙂

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