Those Were the Days

By SILMOS LOLLY, Nostalgia Correspondent


READERS, I cannot tell you. I am so rigid with excitement that I do not know my Sanilav from my Harpic.

I was sitting in my customary tram shelter in Tooting Broadway enjoying a raspberry Spangle and a cup of Bev coffee and chicory mixture (1s 9d from David Greig's) when news reached me of the most sensational development.

Trams are back on the streets of Manchester!

It's about time too, that's what I always say. Do you know I have been sitting in this shelter since 1952 and not one tram has passed by? I am beginning to wonder if one will ever come.

At least the long wait is over for Mancunians and they can travel around a bit now. They can gaily cast away the long years of sedentary boredom and go out to whist drives again.

They can throw away their copies of Everybody's, John Bull and Reynold's News and jump on to the running boards of our dear old rickety chums. (No offence intended to Professor Pliffploff).

Those cobwebby skeletons at tram stops will soon be a thing of the past. Oh yes (to paraphrase a former Prime Minister not inconsiderably).

I do not know whether the Manchester trams will pass through London, but at least we can hope. I plan to stay awake in my Tooting shelter tonight just in case one should pass by and give me a fourpenny one.

Ah yes! I can feel the wind in my hair now! Hold tight! Only five passengers standing on the lower deck! More tarpaulins on the upper deck if you please, conductor, my good man.

Keep the faith! Remember, dogs would still love Vims if they could get their paws on them.

Oh my goodness golly! What a day!


One doesn't hear custard being discussed much these days. The chattering classes seem to be caught up with irrelevancies such as the price of fish.

I can well remember the time when the tops of trams and trolley-buses were packed with men wearing pipes and smoking trilby hats animatedly discussing the merits of  Brown and Polson's or Bird's.

I was a Bird's man myself and I believe this revered brand of comestible held sway amongst aficionados, but B&P always had a strong following among those who wished to be a little different. That is to say, Bird's men would tend to take their custard with a tart, while B&P chaps would dollop it over a kipper.

In those balmy days before the days of inconvenience foods, it was necessary to make one's own custard from powder. And this is where the intractable problem of lumps came to the fore. Those in the know would be able to escape this scourge by mixing the powder and sugar with a little milk which was then carefully stirred into a smooth cream. Once made, there were often heated discussions and, in some households, fisticuffs over who should have the skin.

It is all so different nowadays with custard coming ready-made in tins and cartons marked "Country Fresh." It begs the question: Which country?

Sunday was a big custard day in our house. But I know of no law which prohibits the enjoyment of this viscous confection on any other day of the week.

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre