The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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9:13pm on Friday, 4th December, 2009:
When I was a child, our holiday consisted of two weeks at my mother's parents (which we loved). I — and since the death of my brother, only I — have wonderful memories of our times there.
One of the things we did that we weren't allowed to at home was stay in bed late in the morning. It wasn't all that late — maybe 8:30 or so — but my grandparents would get up at around 6am as a matter of routine so it seemed late. We wouldn't ordinarily have wanted to stay in bed, but we had a reason for doing so at my grandparents: the books. My mother was an only child, but my grandparents brought up my grandmother's twin sister's son as if he were their own; he was older than my mother and didn't live with them any more by the time we were around, but my grandparents had some of his books. There were two Eagle annuals we never tired of reading, but the highlight was four Buffalo Bill Wild West annuals. Looking at the covers, I believe they were from 1951 to 1954; the 1954 one particularly sticks in my memory. We were very disappointed when we went to stay with our grandparents one year when we were older and discovered that my grandmother had given them all away.
In fact, memory of this disappointment was so strong in me that I've just right now gone on eBay and bought two.
Anyway, one of the pieces in one of the books was about the California gold rush. It made the point that the people who got richest were the ones who sold supplies. Shovels and spades went for extraordinary prices, and even mundane foodstuffs were expensive. I recall being particularly shocked to read that the price of a single egg was $1. The book helpfully converted that, using the exchange rate of the time, as give five shillings. This seemed a tremendous amount of money to pay for a single egg; I don't know exactly how much they were back then, but apparently they were seven shillings a dozen in 1961. This would make them 7d each (or about 3p in decimal currency — some way short of 25p each). No wonder I was surprised. Imagine a world in which eggs cost five shillings a dozen!
Yesterday, my wife noticed we were out of eggs just as she was setting off to take my younger daughter to school for some kind of concert. Even though she was about to drive past a supermarket and park next to another one, she was insistent that I went out and bought the eggs myself from the local shop (which she also drove past). It was raining heavily and dark in a village with no streetlights, but that was not a factor (mainly because my wife only likes to park if there are no other cars within 10 metres of where she wants to put the car).
OK, so I spent 20 minutes getting wet and bought the eggs. Half a dozen cost £1.59.
In other words, 9p more than five shillings each.
I should start selling shovels.
Referenced by Meanwhile, in the Past....
Referenced by The Oregon Trail.
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