27 April 2011

More History Than Anyone Should Have To Deal With

Sixty years ago - 1951 to be precise - petrol was 3s 4d (that's shillings and pre-decimal pence) per UK gallon of  4.5 litres, making the cost equivalent to 3.5p a litre in today's money. For the non-Brits reading this, it is currently coming in at around £1.33 a litre, that's a whisker short of £6 a UK gallon. A pint of beer cost 1s 3d (1/3d I believe we used to write it), and a three bedroomed semi-detached house £1,450 - which I know to be correct as I've just found the receipt to my parents' house bought in 1952. The average weekly full-time wage was £8 6s 0d for men; £4 9s 10d for women (equivalent to £8.30/£4.49 in modern money).

Still nostalgic for the "good old days"? Well try this one. In 1951, that's six years after the end of the Second World War, the meat ration per person stood at its lowest level ever, 10d (4p) worth per week for an adult, which could buy you, if you could find it, 4ounces of rump steak. And meat didn't finally come off ration until 1954. Pretty dire, eh?

I thought so until I was reading Alan Wilkinson's blog. He's a writer friend of mine who, in true English eccentric style, has gone to live on the Nebraska range for six months, ostensibly alone, to write. The family who own the land got it under the Homestead Act in 1904 and lived first in a dug-out, then in a sod-house, before building the first home-made block-built ranch-house in 1923. It's now used as a hunting lodge, and it's the house he's staying in. There's a lot of history mixed in with his observations. Drop by, you'll find it interesting.

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