Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Consumption in the 60s

There has been an incredible change in spending and consumption habits since the 1960s.

In our teens in the 60's we hardly ever ate out. Almost all meals were taken in our own or other peoples' houses. There were few restaurants and they were only used for special occasions. Pubs only rarely served cooked food. A 'ploughman's (a bread roll, cheese and pickle) or a scotch egg was about the only thing available to eat. So if one didn't meet at someone's house, you ate first and then met up at the local pub and had a couple of beers (pubs didn't then serve wine). I didn't like beer or any other alcoholic drinks, so I drank coke.....but as there were no drink-driving laws in those days, drinking in any event wasn't a problem.

In our late teens our main expense was petrol, but that was cheap and our cars were in any case small - almost always less then two litres (see The Cars of our Youth). My Mini and later Cooper S used relatively little petrol and I was anyway blessed by being able to fill it up from the farm petrol pump! Charlie Skipwith had sporty Riley with a white racing decal on the side. Nick Duke had a finely tuned Ford Anglia maintained by the Duke's firm's mechanics and of course 'free' petrol. So our outings to the White Horse in Droxford were pretty tame affairs and we always made it home in one piece (Charlie lived at Studwell House next door, so he had no problem).

Even at university, when I still didn't drink, an evening would be spent with friends in a pub, with a refectory meal or sometimes egg and chips from 'German Edie's' as a base and little spent on either. My main expense then was the drive up to London to see my girlfriend Penny, and buying food which would then be cooked in her flat.

We had jobs from the late 60s but lived at home or in our London flats where we cooked at home almost every night (pork chops and dried Surprise peas or a Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie in Piers's and my case - ...) . We rarely ate out in London, although we occasionally went to The Pot in Earl's Court or San Frediano in the Fulham Road. The great restaurant revolution was only just beginning. Robert Carrier's in Islington opened around then. Before that, if one wanted a very good meal, almost the only place to go was Wiltons in Jermyn St.

Later on, business life involved quite a bit of entertaining and being entertained, but at a fairly modest scale and cost. The priciest places were unofficially 'off-limits' or actually banned under the firm's guidelines. No one ordered ever ordered champagne or high-priced clarets. It would have ruined our reputations and our prospects to be thought over-indulgent or wasteful of the firm's money.

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