Life before death? Not now, thanks

Today I played my guitar until my fingers bled. It only took a few minutes, but it made me feel like an old bluesman, which I suppose is what I am – or a grumpy old man, to put it another way.

There were lots of things wrong with the world when I was young. I seem to remember a long, cold war of some kind, and heaps of rubble left over from the much warmer one that I just missed.

And very painful dentistry after I cycled into a car. A stationary car. Nowadays, under the new Highway Code, it would be the car’s fault, but it wasn’t then. It was definitely my fault, which didn’t make it any less painful.

Children walked to school, or sometimes cycled. They certainly weren’t taken there in cars. There were no cycle paths, no high-vis clothes, no lycra, no helmets and no silly little helmet-cams. As a result most people kind of liked cyclists. I know it seems hard to believe. 

Most of all, people weren’t afraid all the time.

Medicine was far less developed than it is now; it wasn’t all that long since antibiotics had been invented. That was 1928, and it happened by accident, like all the best science. If scientists had been organised at the time they would all have got together and said antibiotics were impossible, and not allowed anyone to argue with them because there was a consensus.

Or maybe there would have been a lockdown, with occasional parties. 

People died quite a lot (well, once each, obviously) of diseases that are now easily curable. My mother told me I had polio, though I don’t remember it. My parents were not keen on vaccination, but they were not called anti-vaxxers or banned from social media, or cancelled. 

We did not live in fear of dying, and no-one was woke. People got on pretty well, really, and a lot of them went to church, which meant that they believed in life after death. Perhaps that had something to do with it.

Of course they also believed in life before death. That helped too.