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When to wash?

Context

1971. Do children wash too often?

The essence of this clip is humorous of course, but it serves as an introduction to changing social trends and a comparison between our lives today and life in the early 1970s.

The Social Trends report prepared by the Office of National Statistics was first published in 1970 and has continued ever since.

A comparison between a recent report and the report for 1971 reveals:

  • - life expectancy has increased...but the number of years in which people can expect to live in poor health has also increased
  • - the ownership of consumer goods (such as cars, televisions, telephones) has increased dramatically...but the gap between rich and poor has grown wider

In 1971:

  • - a pint of milk cost 6p
  • - about half of families owned at least one car (it is now over three-quarters)
  • - the average age of a mother at child birth was 26.2 years (it is now much closer to 30 years)
  • - 8% of children lived in single parent families (currently about 25% do)
  • - 20% of children aged 3 to 4 attended school (now it is around 65%)

Transcript

CHILD:

I suppose there could be something in it, because when you wash your fingers with it and your hands, and you can see when you've been in the water too long. And I think soap and water could be bad for you, too much.

INTERVIEWER:

How many times do you think you ought to wash in a day then?

CHILD:

Oh I think you should wash about twice a day, and bath about once a week, but there's no need, like some people do, bathing every day.

CHILD:

I don't think you should use water too much, but if you didn't wash too much, my mother would get worried, and she doesn't like me to be dirty. She always likes me to be clean.

INTERVIEWER:

Do you think that children are made to wash more than adults, and that it's unnecessary?

CHILD:

Yes, I do think they are made to wash more than adults. I see my father washing once a day, and that's in the evenings, and he washes sometimes in the mornings. That's mostly the only time I ever see him washing.

INTERVIEWER:

And do you think he ought to use a bit more soap and water then?

CHILD:

Yes, I do!

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