As we enter the ‘hard yards’ of our lockdown to fight Corona Virus, I have to confess it’s starting to hurt.

It’s also rekindling some terrible memories from my past, as a young boy growing up in a Derbyshire mining town during the ‘70s. 

For anyone under the age of 40, this is going to sound a bit far-fetched – and if you’re under 30 you probably won’t believe anything I’m about to tell you. 

You see, on any normal Sunday in the early 1970s it was quite possible to wake up to; 

· No shops open for business (it was the law) 

· No cafes or restaurants plying their trade (and certainly no coffee other than instant) 

· One TV in your home, with only three channels - controlled by your parents 

· No videos or video games 

· No mobile phones – we shared our single landline with a neighbour, so they could potentially listen in to any conversations you had, and chip in if they wanted. 

· Often no electricity 

· Often no petrol for your car (if you had one) 

· And if there was a strike (approx. 50% of the time) nowhere to put your household rubbish 

Add to this the fact that in the ‘70s people didn’t ‘exercise’ – your job and your daily life was arduous enough - so any leisure and ‘family’ time was spent sleeping in your chair. 

Consequently, it was quite possible to look out of the window back then, and not see anyone in your town at all for one day a week. 

And food? Let’s just say things were rather more unadventurous back then. If it wasn’t meat and two veg, it was probably ‘foreign muck’ and to be avoided at all costs. TV chefs hadn’t really been invented – apart from Fanny and Johnny Craddock – and their idea of exotic haute cuisine was putting tinned clementine pieces on a cracker with rubber cheese. 

So how did we cope back then, and what lessons can we draw on to help us in our current lockdown situation? 

For me the saviour then was music. Music on the radio, music on the record player, and learning to play a musical instrument. Other than reading, it was the one thing I could do without my parents’ interference or influence – and even now, it’s the thing that can lift me if things get tough. 

Other people I know turned to books…puzzles…art – all quite solitary pursuits that in better times we think of as luxuries in our lives. 

So, if you think that this lockdown is bad (and it is), it will get better. 

I know because I lived through the ‘70s.

Paul Carter