Good Old Days of childhood were strictly non-pc

Roy Beers
Roy Beers

We’re always being told today’s kids are overweight and lazy, spending all their time glued to X-box games – and no doubt there’s at least some genuine cause for concern.

But were things really so wholesome back in the days of black and white TV?

Society was rigidly segmented. All boys played with toy soldiers, owned an arsenal of toy guns, and played outdoor games like “Japs and Americans” – our back courts echoed with the sound of imitation machine gun fire.

Boys’ comics were mainly about war heroes, or (second best) sportsmen - like Roy of the Rovers (good guy). Any foreigners who featured were sinister types to be shot as soon as possible - unless they were plucky Australians, or other reliable square-jawed Caucasian allies.

Girls played with dollies, dolls’ houses, and read girls’ comics whose stories were always about ballet, pony schools – that sort of thing.

Sweeties were loaded with so much sugar and dodgy additives it’s a wonder kids didn’t glow in the dark. There were sweetie books of matches, sweetie chocolate cigarettes (which gave off a realistic puff of “smoke”) and liquorice pipes.

Collectable bubblegum cards featured Heroes of Scottish Football or - hugely more popular - bloodcurdling, lurid scenes from a version of the War of the Worlds set in 1950’s America.

Another series featured the American Civil War, and its cards positively revelled in gore and slaughter - for example the crew of a ship (the CSS Alabama) sunk by a Union warship were shown being eaten by sharks. But off Cherbourg in France?

If they were sold to kids now there would be uproar.

Still, none of it did us any harm ... I think.