A seasoned look at life - January 10, 2013

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THE recent Ping Pong Championships on telly reminded me of childhood days in the 50s. Like competitors in this back-to-basics tournament, we then had wooden bats with a sandpaper surface. Later the Chinese introduced rubber and foam ‘sandwich’ bats and table tennis was transformed.

“It was wonderful to see again, far more entertaining,” judged a former top competitor I now play tennis with.

As in many homes back then, our family would play ping pong on the dining table after Sunday dinner. Just that thought stirs the aroma of New Zealand lamb, Bisto gravy and Yorkshire puddings that weren’t Aunt Bessie’s.

‘Round the Horn’ or ‘Two-Way Family Favourites’ would be on the ‘wireless’ and we would play until our evening ‘tea’ of salad with tinned salmon.

It must have been the 50s because by the Swinging Sixties I was a sulky teenager preoccupied with growing sideboards and looking ‘cool’.

Of course, back in the 50s there wasn’t much else to do. Most families didn’t have cars. Few even had TVs; if they did then sets were black and white and only showed the BBC. There were long intervals between programmes showing a test card or picture of a water mill, perhaps to remind us how far we had progressed.

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. But I shall be returning to my home town of Urmston for a friend’s 70th bash at a golf club. I had a holiday job there years ago and served sherry with raw eggs to Manchester United legends Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, when the team dined there before a match. It will be interesting to revisit the art-deco building for the first time since those times, when I day-dreamed about what my future held.

Naturally, the main interest will be meeting old pals from almost half a century ago. There will be much nostalgia bouncing to and fro but never let it be said those were the good old days.

Yes, we were young and, in some ways, it was a more innocent age. But, back then, people of 50 were old – not to mention those in their 60s and beyond. Life was tougher and there wasn’t as much to do; nor as many opportunities and luxuries.

I shall present our party host with my novel ‘Born Again Sinner’, which looks back to earlier times in Manchester and features him in a cameo role. But I shall also see relatives and give them a semi-autobiographical book set on the Fylde - entitled ‘Life of Bliss’. And, believe me, it is a better life today. In fact, it’s a whole different ball game!

• For more from Roy and his books visit royedmonds-blackpool.com.