While there are many folk who still yearn for a return to the past, when I look out at times gone by, I am much happier to be alive today.
I often wonder about conventions and customs of the past and how so many of the old ways seem so alien in today's 'progressive' world.
That was a time when to have a child outside wedlock would cast a mark of shame upon a maiden's brow that could never be erased; when to steal a loaf of bread for want of starvation could see some poor soul transported across the world, when debtors who were unable to redeem their loan would find themselves in prison. These were the days when men never allowed women to forget that they were men while routinely forbidding them to do 'this' or 'that' as they were constantly reminded by court and custom that they were only women, the property of their husband who they'd been placed on earth to serve.
These were the days when women remained trapped in unhappy marriages and when to leave their marriage partner against his will meant penury, the loss of all contact with one's children and a life of destitution as a social outcast. This was a time when divorce was unheard of and male hypocrisy ruled supreme; a time when wives were there to breed child after child until either their body gave up the ghost or their husbands gave up the drink and his unreasonable demands on them.
Of all past customs though, one I sadly regret the passing of is the ability of all class of people of 'keeping one's word'. I grew up at a time when to break it meant instant loss of Office for any politician and the withdrawal of all community respect from the man or woman in the street. Not only was a person's word their bond, but to break it was nothing short of personal disgrace. I always remember my parents telling me, ' Billy, I would prefer you to break the law, break a leg or even break your neck before breaking your word. A poor person has nothing in this world that is worth keeping except their good name and they will forever hold on to that if they keep faith with their word.'
All in all, while my love of history will always enable me to place a favourable slant on times now long past, I prefer to read about the past these days than to have ever been obliged to live it." William Forde: October 30th, 2014.