The Coronation was made more joyous as it marked the dawn of a new age with a Welfare State and freedom from Doctor’s fees

I wrote the following letter to the Daily Express (18/8/14) to highlight the effect of The creation of the Welfare State on an impoverished population.

They presented it as a working class Tory.

Original:

I was only six, in 1953, but I was sufficiently aware of the world around me to appreciate why the Coronation was such a joyous thing.
It’s hard to recall how drab life was in those days, or how much deprivation we endured.
My family had just had electricity installed, the first in our street.
Few rooms had the new electric lamps and I still used a paraffin lamp to see my way to bed.
There was hardly any colour, anywhere.
People are drowned in colour today.
Toy shops epitomise the difference with their signs being made of multi coloured plastics.
Toy shops in 1953 had brown, wooden signboards with their names picked out in Gold Leaf (dulled Brass leaf).
Toys were wooden in red, green and white, or wind-up tincan cars fom Germany.
The only plastic we saw was the black bakelite of the phone in the red phonebox at the end of the next street, or the brown speckled bakelite of the Wireless, imported from America.
We actually had the first TV in our street with an i-Pad sized Black and White screen, inside a suitcase sized cabinet.
We and some of our neighbours watched the Coronation on that.
I was later invited, by a friend’s mum, to watch the Coloured Newsreel of The Coronation at the Cinema. A six-year old would not have watched that if it hadn’t been in colour and therefore a wonderful experience.
We were desperate for colour: the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was met by queue’s, stretching around the block, with people waiting through whole viewing’s to ensure a seat.
Kerbstone’s in every street were painted alternately red, white and blue to celebrate any National event.
All streets were decorated with bunting.
On Empire day, we decorated our bikes and trikes with red, white and blue.
Christmas and bonfire night were seriously important chances for colour, with the making of Xmas decorations being the main activity, leading up to Xmas.
 
We had just come out of a war and its aftermath was omnipresent.
There was no shortage of firewood for bonfire night, as there were still remnants of bombed houses to scavenge. There were four houses and half a church within sight of my own doorstep, although we were miles away from the dockyards.
My blanket was Dad’s army Greatcoat.
We still had rationing coupons and, although I don’t recall powdered eggs, we still survived on mainly bread. Sugar was off ration and sweets were not a problem, although their bright colours were probably due to additives banned today.
We had no refrigerators yet. Dried fish, condensed milk etc. were still necessary. “Best by dates” did not exist. If you found you could keep it down, you added it to your diet.
Dad’s Xmas club at work ensured that we had a chicken for Xmas dinner, If Dad was lucky he drew a big one, in the raffle, and it lasted into Boxing Day.
 
My parents’ generation had emerged from a life of despair into a world where friends and relatives were not being regularly killed.
I was too young to be directly aware of this but almost everyone I met had lost someone.
Soldiers returned from War with physical damage were plentiful and this had its effect on those around me, which I didn’t fully comprehend until year’s later.
I hadn’t lived through the dire pre-war years but I absorbed the exhiliration of the older generation facing the birth of The Welfare State. I was born at home, before hospital births for all, and survived being strangled by the cord (I was told).
It was years before the old “can’t afford a doctor” remedies disappeared and people stopped apologising for taking up the doctor’s time, but it must have been a great comfort to my parents’ generation to know that they no longer had to weigh up whether, or not, to call out the doctor, when we children were sick.
As someone who survived The Asian flu, I’m aware how lucky I was and how unlucky I might have been without The NHS.
 
Things had been very bad, were still bad but the future looked bright, especially with a beautiful young Queen promising a new Elizabethan Age, with our British Empire’s prestige stamped by the conquest of Everest.
published version:
Reading your Commemorative edition to mark the Queen’s Coronation (September 18) brought back memories for me.
I was only six, in 1953, but I was sufficiently aware of the world around me to appreciate why the Coronation was such a joyous thing.
It’s hard to recall how drab life was in those days, or how much deprivation we endured.
My family had the first TV in our street with an i-Pad sized Black and White screen, inside a suitcase sized cabinet. We watched the Coronation on that. Later at the Cinema I watched the Colour Newsreel of The event. I would not have wanted to watched it if it hadn’t been in colour
Things were bad in those days  but the future looked bright, especially with a beautiful young Queen promising a new Elizabethan Age, with our British Empire’s prestige stamped by the conquest of Everest.
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