I’ve checked Google, and it turns out the Good Ol’ Days aren’t an actual historical period. They’re just unreliable, rose-tinted memories lodged in middle-aged minds like mine. My Good Ol’ Days are generally school-based, and span roughly from the time Karen Murgatroyd joined my English class to when boy bands came along and ruined everything.
Real or not, the Good Ol’ Days are a solid reference point we can use today to decry the pointless existence of our offspring. “Give that device a rest, Dakota. In the Good Ol’ Days we’d be out shooting magpies with an air gun…” That kind of thing.
Here are some random nuggets from my Good Ol’ Days that might resonate.
In the Good Ol’ Days, writing happened without squiggly coloured underlines to instantly identify grammatical misdemeanours. Our ignorance went straight from brain to page. So, some entrepreneurs who cared little about low-level substance abuse by youngsters invented Twink. Twink smelled heavenly, and its quick-drying milkiness obliterated errors on a 14B5 lined refill page. You could hardly tell. Really.
New Twink (with a mixing ball that rattled pleasingly in the bottle) went on smoothly. But after about a week of schoolboy stupidity, the stuff congealed. The ball stopped rattling, and the applicator brush looked like Boris Johnson’s hair. Still, we persevered. We learned to write up and over small white hillocks on the page.
In the Good Ol’ Days, school tuck shops sold blocks of candy so dense they didn’t rot your teeth over time, they removed large chunks of healthy dentine on the spot. The K Bar was a full cubic metre of refined sugar compacted into a flattened finger. It was never possible to finish one off entirely at lunchtime, so the first period after lunch was characterised by kids with fat jaws trying hard not to dribble sugary saliva onto their SRA cards.
Good grief, you can still get them. Sweet miracle.
Remember those butt-ugly teardrop-shaped shoes? Nomads distinguished the truly tough kids from the nambies who wore standard black Hannahs lace-ups or, heaven forbid, Charlie Browns. The ensemble was completed by a black bomber jacket sized generously enough to conceal your Pall Mall 20s and Bic lighter.
Pairs of compasses
In the Good Ol’ Days, it was every 14-year-old boy’s right to carry a lethal weapon in his pencil case. Compasses – or, actually, as the brainy kids pointed out – pairs of compasses, were hinged circle-scribing devices with a pencil-clamping ring on one side and sabre-sharp point on the other. They were used to draw Venn Diagrams in Maths and globes in Social Studies. For the other 997/1000ths of the academic year, they were desk-carving implements, wart pickers and occasional weapons of mortal combat.
Blackboards were the Good Ol’ Days’ equivalent of whiteboards. The best thing about blackboards (aside from the fingernail thing) were the erasers which, after a couple of full-board wipes, became choked with chalk dust. Clap two together, and you created an alkaline cloud that would send members of the Chess Club into paroxysms of asthmatic wheezing. The bad kids needed reminding by teachers that clapping dusters was an outdoors activity. As in: “do that again, Greg, and I’ll legally assault your rear end with this hardened, aerodynamic strip of birchwood.”