Now we voted out of the EU, the post-mortem phase is well under way as experts (boo, fuck you experts) try to understand, you know, what’s wrong with people.
Watching various shows attempt to make sense of Brexit, one can’t help but notice the loud voice of a group I will describe as ‘back in my day’ wankers: those who understood vote leave not as a major socio-economic choice, but a step back in time, to an allegedly more civil and altogether better era. The enlightened, critical minds of our time who helped make ‘post-truth’ the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year.
In truth ‘back in my day’ is a solid phrase. It’s vague and undefined enough to shield itself from criticism. As a historian, I would find it easier to criticise 2016 as a time frame, than have a crack at ‘back in my day’. Not just because it actually has been a shit year…
In this post, I’d like to offer a brief translation guide to some of the most common backinmydayisms you’re likely to come across.
Translation: back in my day before mobile phones, when you had to ring people’s houses and inevitably end up awkwardly chatting to someone else, then hope you could somehow get through to your friend before being told they’d ‘just popped out’.
“Back in my day, when we used to have tight-knit communities.”
Translation: back when xenophobia wasn’t a shameful emotional reaction to progressive social change, but a shared attitude that brought (almost) everyone together.
“Back in my days, you know, when we used to read books.”
Translation: before the golden age of Internet’s universal access to education, when you had to rely on your own parents’ general knowledge to learn anything – and hope they weren’t morons. Or alternatively, have to dust out some fat arse encyclopedia from the cupboard just to look up one tedious fact.
“Back in my day, before extremist violence and hatred took the world by storm.”
Translation: back in the good old days of imminent nuclear Armageddon, when the threat didn’t come from a couple of deranged pseudo-Muslim kids making bombs in their garage, but from the largest nation on Earth’s lethal atomic capabilities. Them were the days.
“Back in my days, when we used to play outside instead of being in front of a screen all day.”
Translation: you might have the Xbox One, but we had trees!
“Back in my day, I used to walk to work and back everyday and never complained.”
Translation: I’m so old I entered the workforce before the invention of the car, train AND bicycle (??!) Alternatively: I’ve always been backwards-looking.
“Back in my day, before they started showing all that rubbish on TV.”
Translation: Back in my day when we only had 2 channels, so they didn’t really show anything at all on TV.
“Back in my days, when we still had moral standards.”
Translation: back when regardless of your orientation, every sexual intercourse was punctuated by this totally unnecessary internal feeling of guilt inherited from the Church’s ludicrous, but then still dominant ethical paradigm.
“Back in my day, when you could leave your door open and nothing would happen.”
Translation: Back before the days of the Daily Mail’s constant reminders that our next door neighbour was most likely a psychotic rapist. Especially if they look different.
“Back in my days we used toilets to shit, not as photo booths.”
Alright, I’ll give you that one.