Things Ain’t What They Used To Be

We aren’t what we used to be either as we grow older, but manufacturers don’t take this into consideration. I strongly suspect in an attempt to make certain things childproof they are inadvertently stopping the elderly use these things. For instance, matches and lighters. My mother, a smoker all her life, can no longer use cigaret lighters because they are now made too difficult for her weak thumbs to operate. So we went over to matches, but these too are made so that the striker on the edge of the box wears out long before the matches do. The ‘Ship’ matches sold by most newsagents are absolutely useless. If you can still get them (few shops stock them) ‘Swan Vestas’ are better, since the striker doesn’t wear out so quickly. Cooks’ matches by Bryant and May and others also have the ‘Ship’ style strikers of dots, still called ‘safety matches’, but the strikers are not nearly as effective and long-lasting as the continuous brown striker on the old matchboxes by Bryant and May and others.

Caps of jars are also made almost impossible to open by elderly people. I bought an implement for opening these, which was marvelous till nearly all the manufacturers changed the design of their lids, making them curved at the edges, so the implement will not longer grip them properly. We usually have to pierce the lids in order to let in the air in order to open them.

Sachets of tomato sauce, salad cream, vinegar, mustard, not to mention condoms and lube are also very difficult to open for a lot of elderly people with a weak grip.

As to the food itself, salt I’m sure is deliberately mixed with something else to dilute it. You now need 10 times as much salt in cooking and from a salt cellar to even be able to taste it. The same with teabags, unless you manage to buy the ‘extra strong’ variety you might as well be drinking a cup of hot water.

It’s not that we have lost our taste buds, other foods still taste the same. I suspect it is because the experts say salt is bad for you, and the taste for herbal teas has made strong Indian tea less popular, but elderly people still like it.

Vegetables and fruit. When did you last see gooseberries in the greengrocers or greengrocery department of the supermarkets? When did all these strange trendy vegetables come in which many old people don’t like? Sweetcorn, courgettes, etc. And with the traditional green vegetables like spring greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, runner beans, etc. nearly always undercooked so they are crisp? Because it is more healthy? Old people like these boiled for about 20 minutes until soft. And who started this mania for carrots? Served up with sweetcorn or in mixed veg as the trendy vegetable nowadays. My mother and I spend ages picking out all the carrots and sweetcorn from mixed veg. Carrots are OK for flavoring stews and soups, but on their own – ugh!

Red meat is nearly always overcooked in cafes and restaurants nowadays, even in Carveries who ought to know better. Lamb and beef should be served pink. Overcook them and you might as well be eating boiled rag.

Light bulbs used to give sufficient illumination, now they have these ecology-friendly ones which take ages to give decent light, and which, despite the claim to last about a decade, rarely last more than a few months. I’ve gone back to traditional bulbs.

And don’t even mention the railways, buses, the mail, post offices and utility companies, which before privatization run much more smoothly, with no pressure to change supplier and confusing fare/price differences. Surely it makes sense for these organizations which use national grids and networks to all be run by the State or publicly owned monopolies?

Probably I’m just dismissed as another grumpy old man who thinks everything was better in the old days. It wasn’t, but some things were.



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