THERE’S a famous Monty Python sketch with the punchline ‘... and you tell the young people of today and they don’t believe you.’

This phrase follows a dialogue in which two old giffers compare notes about the hardship of their upbringing (‘we used to live in hole in’t road and rub gravel in us hair for breakfast’ etc).

Sometimes, when talking to the Offspring, I feel as if I’m becoming a character in a Monty Python sketch.

“We had no central heating in the bedrooms when I was growing up,” I found myself saying the other day.

“We used to scrape the ice off the INSIDE of the windows.”

“And when the carpet lost its pattern through wear and tear me and my brother used to colour it in with felt tip pens.”

It is a sign of advancing age that I now find myself thinking more and more about the differences between their upbringing and mine.

I was fascinated this week to read the findings of a recent study by Warwick University into how women’s lives have changed since the 1950s.

The average 1950s woman was 21 when she got married (compared to 30 now); became a mother at 22 (28 now); and spent 50 hours a week on housework (18 now). Interestingly she was an average size 12 while 21st century women are an average size 16.

But the most massive difference of all is between the numbers of women who owned a washing machine back in 1950 – just 8% compared to today’s 94%.

We may take our household appliances for granted but there’s no doubt that the washing machines, dishwashers, microwave ovens and cyclonic vacuum cleaners in modern homes have freed both women and men from a lot of drudgery. And, it would appear, they’ve also added a few inches to our waistlines.

If you’d like to do some serious reminiscing then check out npower’s public energy archive ‘Remember How We Used To’ ( That’s assuming you can get your steam-powered computer booted up.