A good time to be alive….

With my two friends Patrick and Maureen in front of the then newly constructed Commonwealth Institute in Kensington London…….now The Design Museum.

I posted this image on FB and Twitter this week with the added text saying ‘what a good time this was to be alive’. In this post I want to examine why so many feel this way.

I will be 77 years old tomorrow….which is a good time to re-examine life…

On my Lambretta scooter with Maureen on the back – Kensington London.

These pictures were taken in 1964 – when I was studying at Rochester Art College…..and only two years before I sailed for the United States…something I had no idea about at the time these pictures was taken.

Although I had not a clue where life would take me, at that time America was not in the cards!

It was to be the start of my understanding that ‘none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………’ It was the beginning of my learning to live one day at a time…and to go with the beautiful flow of life. Not always easy…….I am still learning……

The entrance to Rochester Art College – East Gate Rochester

In the garden of East Gate stands the writing house of Charles Dickens….the Swiss Chalet. It is still there today for anyone visiting Rochester.

Close by are Rochester Castle and Cathedral..plus many places to eat and drink. A good place to visit. The area is steeped in the history of Charles Dickens…..

In 1964 it was only eighteen years after WW2 when the UK and much of Europe were still recovering from the madness of two dreadful world wars.

One of the most significant elements was bringing the youth of Europe together….with the realisation that it was the only way there was any hope of keeping future peace.

We were encouraged to have pen pals and exchange programmes which allowed many young people to visit one another’s countries and families…in short it was the beginnings of the European Union which to.my great sadness the Conservative Government has chosen to leave ! I won’t go there right now….it’s all too painful.

In 1948 our wonderful NHS (National Health Service) was founded.

Given that I was born in 1946…I grew up knowing nothing else, but now having experienced countries where health care is all about money, I cherish the NHS even more.

Washing machines, dish washers, dryers, central heating and all the other added luxuries we now take for granted – most people didn’t have.

When just about everyone is on the same level. with most of their needs being met…it makes for a happier and more harmonious population. Plus there were no fast food outlets as we know them today… We walked much more and people’s diets were healthier. Consequently their overall health was better.

So number one, as a population we didn’t have to worry about getting sick….Education was paid for as long as necessary exams were passed, which illiminated worry…and allowed students to focus on their studies.

We didn’t have a lot of material stuff…. i.e. we made. a lot of our own clothes….(I made the coat I am wearing in the first photograph). Public transportation was reliable and affordable…and so there was not the need for everyone to have a car. School children wore school uniform removing the extra burden of trying to keep up with fashion trends.

Music back then was everywhere, but not in the form of expensive tickets and loads of STUFF to buy. There were so many little places everywhere….and of course Art Schools at that time – were the Hub of the music world…a place where some of the top bands featured.

There was a sense of order. Rarely did we see litter or graffiti. Young people did get up on the bus to give their seat to an elderly person. For the most part, people were polite to one another.

This is my mother teaching at a little school in Kent that she was involved with around 1954.

In a nutshell, I don’t remember being worried a lot, rather I had a sense of HOPE – something we all need. Money was definitely not my key aim or goal in life….as long as I had enough and my needs were met – I was OK….and actually that pretty well sums me up today:)

We can’t turn the clock back, but hopefully we can learn from the past…..

This is my Mother, my uncle walking and me in the stroller. It was taken in Richmond Park….not too far from where I live now. Lives are interesting and complicated:)


69 thoughts on “A good time to be alive….

  1. memadtwo

    Happy Birthday! I’m a bit younger than you, but I too had a childhood without Stuff, a life undirected by technology. Even the change from when my daughters were growing up to now is startling. Thanks for reminding us that things could be different if we had the will to make it so. (K)

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for reading K…Yes we need to come together and make the changes happen….certainly for the young. I think if we understand that it has been, and can be very different, that can give us the impetus we need to make change. Janet X

  2. Writing to Freedom

    It seems you’ve led a full life Janet and learned to flow with life. It’s sad that corporate greed now controls so much of our lives. I hope we figure out how to take back our lives and world. Happy Birthday! ✨🎂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Brad. Back in 1964 I could not have imagined how much corporate greed there would be. We all had so much hope for a new future….Hopefully the young people today will take back their lives and world….:)XX

  3. VJ

    My how stylish you were. This took me back. My older sister was a model – very much into the Mary Quant and Twiggy styles. Happiest of birthdays to you!

  4. alison41

    I was born in a British Protectorate in 1941, so your post resonated me, and I wholeheartedly agree with what you wrote. Happy birthday, and many more to come.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Alison. I feel so sad for the children and young people of today….but on the flip side so grateful to have experienced the freedoms of the times when we grew up:)X

  5. Stevie Turner

    How lovely! I was born in 1957 and so I missed out on the ‘Swinging Sixties’ as I was still at school, but I still cherish that time as I had so much more freedom than the children of today have.

  6. Elizabeth Ward

    Happy 77th Birthday Janet 🎂🎉🎂💐🎂
    I am 80 today!
    Keep those wonderful watercolours coming – – , inspiring, I love them! Enjoying your writings too. Thanks!

  7. Jet Eliot

    Great to see these photos, Janet, thank you. I was dazzled by the Charles Dickens chalet, something you Londoners are lucky to have in your midst. Sending a big happy birthday hug to you, and sincere wishes for a new year of pleasant times.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you dear Jet. Rochester (not too far from London) where I went to art college – is steeped in the history of Dickens.. It’s a good place to visit and it was a fantastic place to go to college. Thank you for your good wishes:)X

  8. Susie Simmons

    I love these old photographs. It was a time for which I have fond memories. We are the same age and I congratulate you on your birthday! There are moments when I long for the slower pace of long ago, the serenity and security of those days. I am grateful to have lived in an age before computers and screens and chaos.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Susie, I am also very grateful to have been born before all the tech madness…at least we can read a book, have lovely conversations…etc. I believe that you and I would have much in common. 🙂

  9. Emma Cownie

    How cool you and friends look in the 60s. A good summary of the plus and minuses of life back then. My mother always said that as a child they were discouraged from speaking up in class and “order” was very important. A little bit of disruption and freedom is good for you. Yes, I do think that young people have it much tougher today and social media is both a blessing and curse. I wonder if young people would get the idea of a “pen pals”?

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Interestingly Emma, I was just thinking how young people today would find having pen pals. It would be a completely different way of communicating….and would encourage them to slow down and perhaps focus more. I still have friends who started out as pen pals in the fifties and sixties. You are so right social media is both a blessing and a curse…..more of a curse if it’s the only thing you have known! Hope all’s well with you. 🙂

  10. Jennie

    I so enjoyed this post. While I’m a few years younger and an American, 1964 was big for me. England and London had everything, music and fashion. What I have come to understand as an adult, that those years were still war-torn years for you. That never occurred to me as a teenager. Thank you for your outlook and perspective, as the past shapes us and gives us great memories. As you say, so beautifully, it gives us hope. I am the queen of hope, a preschool teacher, so I embrace your message. Thank you. BTW, Beetley Pete shared your post. I’m so glad.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Jennie, thank you so much for reading and commenting – I really appreciate it. Yes, it’s true in 1964 the UK was still recovering from WW2….there were indeed still some bomb site around London. The sixties were a huge breath of fresh air….a time for the young, when all things seemed possible. How lucky your young pupils are to have such a positive teacher:). Thanks to Beetley Pete that we have connected.

      1. Jennie

        Thank you, Janet. ‘Positive’ is my middle name. You are so right about the 60’s for young people. Pete is one of my favorite bloggers.

  11. davidjrogersftw

    Happy birthday. I love this post–the ease of your telling it, the pleasant memories, the history, the great Charles Dickens, the pictures–especially cute you in the stroller, your mother, her school, the end of the war, your coming visit to America. The whole thing was just so nice to read.

  12. dianarog11

    Happy birthday, Janet. I agree that things were so much simpler back in those days. But it’s great that you are enjoying life now and still doing your beautiful artwork. I wish you a happy and healthy year ahead.


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