14/08/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

20th Century V 21st Century Teenagers


Did you know that teenagers were only invented in the late 20th Century? Before that they were considered to be either very large children or young ladies and gentlemen. If Victoria or Albert had thrown the sort of strops that we have to deal with they probably would have been beaten into submission by their strict parents, not jollied along by suckers like us.

Well I'm not that old, though possibly look it, but I did grow up pre-Haribo and golly gosh have things changed. Teenagers in the 21st Century are definitely richer - and their parents poorer - but were we really so different?

Well, when I was a teenager what I did was private. Thank you, God. There's no cyber evidence of my exploits for anyone to happen upon, maybe just a few photos, whereas 21st Century teenagers will never know when their past will come back to haunt them.


There was no discussion of my nights out being posted on social networks for all to see, and if I didn't get invited somewhere chances are I would never know.


We ate penny sweets, liquorice black jacks and fruit salad. Haribos were only introduced into the UK in 1994. We were bothered about what we looked like and dieting was a regular topic of conversation, but there wasn't the constant barrage of airbrushed supermodels to compare ourselves to, and that definitely made life easier.

We could drink in pubs once we looked old enough, as long as you weren't spotted in your school uniform - that was me. No one really cared. There was no photographic ID to produce. And we weren't pussies - we drank lager and lime, there were none of these sweet-as-lemonade alcopops, which today's teens overindulge in.

We didn't just forget to phone home if we were going to be late - we didn't have a phone. How did we manage? We had to carry 10p emergency phone money and hunt for an unoccupied phone box – a popular if rather cramped place for couples to meet!

Only the very rich kids had cars, whereas now a gift wrapped mini appears to be commonplace.

Because there was no remote, teenagers never had control of the TV. How archaic is that? You needed to press a button on the actual TV to change channel or alter the volume. Of course we were just as lazy as you lot are now so we just watched whatever our parents choose - anyway there were only four channels and definitely nothing on – for us anyway.

We did wear mini-skirts – just like you - yes they were short and yes we did look good, but whereas you lot spend hours straightening your hair we had curly perms. Luckily we could destroy the evidence - your bad hair days along with your wildest exploits will live on forever!

Just like you lot, we found life boring but hello! - we had good reason. There was no 24 hour TV with music channels and no computer games - in fact guess what? No computers. The nearest thing we had to high tech was a Stylophone – which made sounds not phone calls!

We certainly took photos, but only on special occasions and certainly no selfies unless you had very long arms and an autofocus. Pictures were taken on holiday, birthdays and Christmas and then stuck into albums. There was no need to hide from people trying to snapchat you and post dodgy photos online.

We had to get a bus into town if we wanted to buy a record, not merely press a button. In case you don't know what a record is; it's a dinner plate sized black vinyl thing with a hole in the middle that makes sounds if you scratch it at the right speed with a needle.

If we wanted free music we waited for Top of The Pops and held the microphone of our portable tape-recorder towards the TV. Yeah the sound wasn't quality, but we were happy with that until of course the tape got tangled and then we had problems.

Imagine going to a library just to research your homework, well that's what we did unless of course you were lucky enough to have a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica at home. I'll never forget the telling off I got when my parents discovered that I'd cut out bits of their treasured reference collections. You see, cut and paste meant literally that. Glue Sticks were innovative for us!

What do you remember most about your teenage years?

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