WHEN I was a child, I remember how my father used to talk about going to the cinema for two pence, and making a night out of it for not much more. This was how life was in the 60s, I would tell myself, and surely nobody would ever be able to tell stories like that again. At least that’s what I thought, until I found myself having a similar discussion with someone last week.
Essentially, the View from the Blue is a look at Waterford from a few different angles – past, present and future. Because I’m only 33, (Okay I’m 37 now, but I was 33 when I wrote this) I can only go so far back with my nostalgia and I know that will probably be frustrating for all the people who can remember Winstons where Rubys was, L&N where Broad Street was and maybe even the fields where Reginald’s Tower used to be… I was born in 1980, so my memories are of growing up in the 80s and becoming an adult in the 90s. In that time, what we spend our money on and how much it gets us has changed considerably – maybe not as much as getting into the picture house for two pence, but it’s starting to get that way.
When I was growing up on the Cork Road, there were four shops that we would frequent for our “goodies” – the VG, Mossy’s, McGraths (nee Nolans) and Dunphys. Whatever money we were given, whether it was a pound or fifty pence, we could come home with a bag full of stuff. Fifty pence could get us a bottle of orange, a Wham bar, some sherbet, a bag of crisps and the rest in jellies. Off we would skip home with a bag full of sugar that would ensure numerous trips to the dentist for the rest of our lives. But all with just 50p. If we were lucky enough to have a pound, say for instance if our nanny was visiting that week, we could be in the shop for a solid half hour. There were different levels of chocolate bar, from your 10p He-Man bar, to your 15p Animal bar, then onto the 20p child’s size dairy milk and all the usual bars like a Yorkie, Whispa etc, which were in and around 30p. With a pound you could get a SuperCan of coke, a packet of Frosties, a packet of fives crisps, a Turkish Delight and the rest in jellies.
Now, the prices of confectionary didn’t change that much between then and the time that the Euro came in. The price of a bar probably increased from 28p to 36p at the most. When we started using those horrible euro coins in 2000, bars of chocolate had not broken the 40p barrier. The exchange rate told us that €1 was equal to approximately 78p. Then why on earth did we suddenly go from paying 36p for our chocolate to 78p?! That’s a huge leap that I’ve never been given an explanation to. And it can sometimes keep me awake at night I can tell ya!
We will forever remember this new century as the one where we were scammed and hoodwinked out of our money. As people will tell you now, “Fifty Euro lasts pissing time”. I’m not entirely sure what that means but the basic sentiment is that our money doesn’t do what is used to be able to in the last century.
Thankfully though, the prices of things are not all going in one direction. Remember when the mobile phones came in first? We were all running around with our big snowboard shaped plastic boxes of Ready to Go 088 phones. Text messages started at 20pence a pop and then went down to 12 pence. Imagine paying that much for text messages today? We’d all be bankrupt and rebuilding our lives in England. Phone calls rarely lasted any longer than 10 seconds – “Well boy, are you going out tonight? Good stuff. See you in Egans at nine. Bye.” This new way of saying goodbye, where we all say “bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye….yeah….bye…bye…” wouldn’t have been tolerated in the 90s when we were paying a pound a minute for the privilege.
And what about DVDs? I remember being asked to pay €25 for a new DVD in the early 00s, now you can pick up three for a fiver, and I’d doubt you’ll be asked to pay €6 anymore to rent a film for one night. Madness! And don’t get me started on houses…