I grew up in the 1950s and for a woman, especially a wife and mother, they were very different times compared with today. Very few women worked after getting married and they stayed at home to raise the children and look after the house.
The man was the head of the household in all things, especially finance, and each week my dad would give my mum her weekly allowance to run the home.
It was unusual for women to go to university, especially working-class women. Most left school and went straight into work until they married.
In school, girls were prepared for the life ahead of them with lessons in cookery, household management, darning and sewing.
Our house was very different from homes today. Downstairs heating was provided by a coal fire and upstairs the heating was provided by paraffin stoves.
Our house had a coal bunker where the coal men would unload their coal bags and we used coal scuttles to take coal into the house.
During the winter it was common for ice to form on the inside of the windows.
We all went to bed with hot water bottles and undressed downstairs in front of the coal fire for warmth.
Thick dressing gowns and slippers were essentials.
There were no supermarkets and shopping for food was done almost every day.
My mother would visit the baker, the butcher, the greengrocer and the grocer individually.
My dad did not have a car and all the shopping had to be taken home in baskets or in a pull-along trolley.
We were lucky to have a twin-tub washing machine with mangle on top.
The machine had to be pulled out from under a kitchen unit and connected to the sink tap to be filled with water.
One side had a washing machine, the other a spin dryer.
After the clothes had washed they were lifted out of the hot water with large wooden tongs, fed through the mangle and then dropped into the spin dryer.
Clothes were hung out on the washing line in the garden to dry and if it was raining we had a pully in the kitchen where clothes could be hung to dry.
Water was heated by a back boiler behind the coal fire.
The tank could not store much water and most nights my mum would wash me in the kitchen sink.
Weekly bath nights were fun, but the water was very shallow.
My mother was a great knitter and I always wore hand-knitted clothes and when I outgrew them my mum would re-cycle the wool by unravelling and re-knitted into something else.
All buttons and zips from old clothes were saved for the button box. Socks and jumpers were darned to extend their life.
Once a week the ‘lemonade man’ would arrive in his van and we would buy bottles of soft drinks and return our empty bottles from last week.
The milk man came daily and delivered milk to our doorstep. Again, he would take away the empty bottles to be washed and re-used.
The dustbin men worked extremely hard, carrying the old metal dustbins on their backs from the back of the house to the cart and then returning them back.
Those were the days!
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at