I hit a personal milestone — I reached 50 — last week. I have to admit, when I was growing up in the U.K. in the 1970s and 1980s. I could not have imagined my life now — living in beautiful coastal Georgia with my American husband, passport, grandchildren and dogs.
I do feel blessed to be here. Current statistics for a woman of my generation and profile in the USA can, hopefully and God willing, expect to live until at least 80 years old.
However, even with my optimistic outlook, it is likely that I am well over halfway through my life, which is a sobering thought.
The good news is that the longer you survive, the better the chances are that you will make old bones — so everyone’s life expectancy now is higher than it was at birth. It is also clear that life expectancy today is massively higher now than in any previous century.
Hunter gatherers in prehistoric times were considered elderly at 30, childhood mortality was endemic before the introduction of antibiotics, vaccines, good sanitation and hygiene. For women, the threat of death in childbirth, or soon after, and the aging effects of many pregnancies were also huge risk factors.
So back when I arrived on this Earth in 1966, what were people doing and thinking about on both this and the other side of the Atlantic? I thought it would be fun to look at a few facts, fashions and fads back then. There is much more at www.thepeoplehistory.com.
Sport: As my father never fails to remind me, one of the best things that happened in 1966 was England defeating West Germany (as it was then in the era of the Berlin Wall) 4-2 in the World Cup Final (British football = American soccer). Had I been born a boy, my parents planned on naming me Geoffrey after England footballer Geoff Hurst, who scored the winning goal. Meanwhile in the USA, the AFL and NFL made the decision to merge as equals under the NFL name.
Politics: In the U.K., Harold Wilson was elected as prime minister of a socialist Labour (yes the British spell it with a "u") government, about the same time as Ronald Reagan became governor of California.
Economy: In the U.S., the average annual income was $6,900, but in the U.K. was only £798 — about $2,400 at the time. Average house prices were about the same on both sides of the pond at $14,200, and a gallon of gas was 32 cents in the U.S. versus about twice that in England, where it is, of course, called petrol.
News: Protests about the Vietnam War raged on both sides of the Atlantic, and the U.S. had nearly 500,000 troops there. Race riots and the space program also dominated American headlines, while in the U.K., people were horrified as notorious child murderers Brady and Hindley were jailed for life, and 116 children and 28 adults died in a tragic avalanche of a coal mine sludge heap into a school in the village of Aberfan in South Wales.
Popular culture: On a lighter note, miniskirts were in fashion across the Western world with London leading the way, and Time magazine first used the phrase "Swinging London." The British Beatles and Rolling Stones and the American Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel topped the music charts in both countries. "Batman" and "Star Trek" made their debut in America, while in Blighty, people were excited about a new children’s TV series, "Camberwick Green."
Enough of this reminiscing about a year I cannot remember. I will leave you with a quote, and some very good advice whatever your age, from Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw: "You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing."
God bless America.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lesleyfrancispr.com.