It wasn't like it is now for young unemployed people in the eighties, for one thing, you just had to turn up once a fortnight and sign on then a giro cheque came two days later that you cashed at the post office and walked out with cash money and nothing to do but wait twelve days until you could do it again.
This also coincided with a lot of other cultural phenomena that have disappeared - young people still hitch-hiked all over the place, thus putting a reduced strain on your giro money. Seriously, people actually stopped their 1980s cars and let young men they didn't know get in for however much of the motorway journey they were undetaking coincided with the young person's travel plans for the day. I frequently travelled from Manchester to Cornwall, in a single day, for nothing. It's not easy to travel from Manchester to Cornwall in a single day if you buy a rail ticket nowadays.
I used to love this feeling of whimsical travel, having a nearly adequate amount of cash in my pocket and no demands on my time is something it is hard to replicate in later life. Unless you do a job that pays enough to have two weeks off in every month and still cover the bills. Of course, working offshore is a trade off in that for the two weeks you work you are working 12+ hour shifts, can't go home and have to share a tiny cabin on a very dangerous factory with someone whom you have not chosen for the purpose.
Most of the time, I come home and I enjoy my home life, pottering about the house, taking photos, working on my awful car and generally living a life of small demand but I feel lately that I'm not making enough of this opportunity and I fancy taking the time to do a little travel around Europe, mainly to those places my other half would not choose for a relaxing holiday. She works very hard in a 9 to 5 type job and wants little more than to relax when she gets time off, this doesn't involve, in an ideal world, traipsing around foreign cities taking pictures of grotty corners or schlepping in and out of engineering museums, marveling at models of bridges.
So, I will be endeavouring to take myself off on two or three day trips to foreign cities on very cheap airlines and having a bit of a mooch around. To this end I have bought a new carry-on bag, the Tatonka Flight Case. I was looking hard at the Cabin Max bag, as excellently reviewed on the Polishing Peanuts blog but the Tatonka just had a few features that I wanted enough to pay the extra.
I will, of course be leaving sticks with terrible jokes on them in coffee shops and cafés throughout Ryanland, it would be nice if I could come up with actual jokes in the language of the countries I visit but I doubt I'm up to it so I'll aim for jokes about the country or themed on them, whichever is most likely to cause bafflement and upset.
So, in tribute to the nostalgia for the eighties that prompted this idea, and in one of the smoothest segues you can expect from me, here's the joke.
Today I wrote my stick of tortured humour in Rocksalt & Snails again but this time I actually left it behind.
The joke is one kindly provided by my friend Trixx though I rewrote the setup as it wasn't convoluted, obscure or laboured enough. He's been saving this punchline up for decades in the hope of a good feed line and, hopefully one will come along before he dies.
If you really want to know, here's the text:
Why did Andy McCluskey not finish moving his falcons until well past bedtime?
Because he started his kestrel manoeuvres in the dark.
Now, before I apologise and let you get back to whatever it was that you were doing before, that joke may need one or two points of explanation, particularly if you are young or indeed old.
Andy McCluskey is a singer who was one of the founder members of a band called Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.
Kestrel sounds a bit like Orchestral.
There are other elements of punning wordplay in there too.