Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!

There’s been much talk recently in the UK that we’re taking refuge in the past, whether it’s Call the Midwife and Downton on TV or Noël Coward and Terence Rattigan at the theatre.

Since we can’t control the future, the story goes, we reach back to the “cosy” past. Witness all the current Cath Kidston mid ’50s-fashion nostalgia.

But, heck! What’s cosy about Call the Midwife’s depiction of poverty, VD, stillbirth, enemas and beds soaked in blood? And that was just the first episode.

Why anyone would think a series about the NHS in the 1950s would bring about nostalgia is totally beyond me.

Cod Liver oil, school milk and nurses that pulled your hair out looking for all kinds of nasties?

No, thanks! Now, I suppose, there may be some who’d describe that show as a bit post-modern and clever, looking at the past through today’s eyes, with little references to medical practices and instruments that have long since been consigned to history’s dustbin.

A bit like Life On Mars without the laughs.

But as far as “cosy” is concerned – as in reaching back to our “cosy” past – I don’t know how you’d define the word but isn’t it perhaps just shorthand for “does not contain murder, people constantly shouting at each other, or endless carping about the failings of friends and family members”?

Without which, as we are only too aware, today’s TV reality-based programmes couldn’t possibly regard themselves as “realistic”. So, “cosy”? No way!

The sad truth is we view certain things with rose-tinted glasses forever afterwards if they were the first to give us a sense of awe and wonder when we were still young, impressionable and open to experiences. Take a friend of mine, for instance.

When she first started using YouTube, she spent ages looking for favourite TV programmes from her childhood. (Remember Fred Dinenage and the potter’s wheel?).

But she soon had to stop, as the programmes she’d adored so much weren’t nearly a patch on her recollection, so spoiling all those golden memories harboured over the years of rushing home from school to glue herself to the telly.

Sometimes it seems better to let memories be just memories. Something to treasure and think about but not try to recreate.

Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code ( now also available at in paperback and eBook (€0.89; Amazon UK: £0.77). Profits to Cudeca

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