Daily Prompt: Who needs paper

Piece of paper

We had chippies in the East End of London. Fish and chips (french fries for those over the pond) were the predecessor of the hamburger, at least in the British Isles. Perhaps the hamburger had not yet made its way across the Atlantic Ocean and so we Brits had to make do with fish and chips.

I remember our chippie along Bethnal Green Road. It was a treat if you went shopping to have some chips. Fish was only added if the whole thing was taken home afterwards for lunch. Chips were a snack in between. The chippie had large containers of oil being heated. It was threepenneth of chips that you asked for, in the days gone by. I was a kid, so must have been in the fifties when you could still buy stuff using pennies. Pennies have slowly disappeared, and everything has become digital, but I am talking of the good old days when we Brits still had our Pounds, shillings and pence and the threepenny piece would get you a bag of chips. Today you would be glad to have change from £3.

The chips were freshly fried and wrapped in newspaper to stop your hands getting oily . Newspaper? How unhygenic you are thinking. Of course, it was a wonder that we kids, as well as the grown ups, survived this attack of printing ink on our body, but we did. We even had newspaper in the little house outside in the garden when mum forgot to by a new roll of toilet paper but we survived.

The newspaper wrapping for the chips made way for the more suitable white impregnated paper, but the chips still tasted the same. And today even this paper has disappeared and the hygenic styrofoam little boxes have been introduced. The hamburger never really knew anything else, it was spoilt from the beginning.

Today paper has been reduced to an element for sneezes, colds and a quick wipe over if you spill something. You do not even need it for a book, you have a Kindle where the print is on a screen. Imagine Charles Dickens slaving for days over his manuscript all written in pen and ink on paper. He had blue fingers from the ink when he was finished, and propably the wastepaper basket (see you had the word paper again) was full of torn pieces of paper where he could not find the right words.

If only Charles Dickens had a computer, life would have been so much easier. I must admit I had been endeavouring to write my first best seller book for years, but even a computer has not replaced my brain to write it and it would be so easy just to hammer it out on a keyboard.

My cousin worked on one of the national british newspapers, The Daily Mirror, for many years until he lost his job. Why? They no longer needed typesetters, they were made redundant due to the arrival of computerized machines. The newspapers were now set up on a computer. Admittedly they were afterwards printed on paper, but I get my daily local newspaper on my iPad to read, athough someone still puts the real newspaper in my letterbox daily. The poor man has to deliver the newspaper in the letterbox at the crack of dawn, to make sure we receive it in time and we have probably already read it on our computers.

The irony of my cousin losing his job at the newspaper in the seventies was the next job that was found for him. He worked for the last remaining years until he retired in the British Museum Library in London and that is really something special because no-one is allowed in the library unless they have a special permit. He said it was a great job. He had access to all the historial original books of Great Britain and if he was on the night shift he had the library all to himself.

British Museum

A shot of the British Museum on a trip to London about 25 years ago. The young man on the right of the photo is my No. 1 son who was then much younger with his modern long hairstyle. This was the day I last saw my cousin. We asked in the museum reception and cousin Roy afterwards turned up, happy to see his cousin again that wandered off to Switzerland and also Mr. Swiss of course.

Daily Prompt: Who needs paper

7 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Who needs paper

  1. Pingback: Crumpled Paper – Ladyleemanila

  2. Our local chippy still wraps their chips in paper – first in a greaseproof bag then insulated in a cone of yellowy-white paper (kind of like newsprint without the print!) and I love it, it’s a real blast from the past. From my childhood I remember chips costing an exciting shiny silvery sixpence, which on decimalisation changed to the far more boring copper-hued two-and-a-half new pence… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those were the days certainly. And that was the word I was searching “greaseproof”. I forget my english now and again and some words you do not find in Internet. Yes the greaseproof replaced the newspaper. It might have been sixpence. I remember we could buy a “wally” for sixpence extra. I was still on pounds, shillings and pence when I left England – it all arrived just afterwards.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That is like our Museum of Congress which is where they basically keep a copy of EVERYTHING. It isn’t open to the public, but I suppose you can get a pass if you are doing research. The big library in New York is almost as good and probably has more really old material down in the many basements. If you are trying to do historical research and need to find “original” material, that’s where you’ll find it. I used to hang out there when I was in high school. The stuff down there isn’t online anywhere. Some of it is really OLD.

    Garry is reading a real newspaper now. He likes paper. He likes holding it, folding it, poring over each section of sports. For some people, paper really IS the thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The British museum gets a copy of every book printed in GB, at least it did, but today it is probably all digital. There are some very old books there. Cousin Roy was more interested in the sports pages of the newspaper than anything else, but he certainly got an interesting job.
      Although we get the dailylocal newspaper, both of us have access to the online version because we have a subscription.


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