Richard Glover begins his book, The Land Before Avocado, by investigating the Australia of his childhood. He chose the period 1965 to 1975 when he was seven to seventeen, though he doesn’t rigidly adhere to this period. He poses the question, “Was this a golden time compared today?”
I found the material very interesting, mostly because I am a very similar age to Glover, so I resonated with much of the subject matter. Some of the material surprised me, even though I knew it was true because I was there! We don’t often take the time to reflect on how much things have changed. The book is easy to read, with Glover’s sense of humour a bonus. However, there is some bad language.
Towards the end of his book, Glover states his purpose in writing it: “This is only partly a book about Australia in the ’60s and ’70s, it’s really an argument about the possibility of progress; about how quickly we can change; and how things that now seem laughable or downright objectionable were considered normal just a moment ago. Most of all, it’s an invitation to dream further change.”
He gives a list of, “ways in which the past was not so great—and how committed Australians, with the support of the rest of us, changed things for the better.”
1. Sewerage wasn’t widespread
2. Home phones weren’t widespread
3. Hazards, such as air rifles, unfenced backyard pools, cracker night, and no childproof lids.
4. Crime was rampant
5. Corruption was common
6. Bullying was considered normal
7. Life expectancy was 12 years less than now
8. Litter was everywhere
9. Sunday trade was banned
10. Eating outdoors widely prohibited
Glover also comments that while there is greater economic inequality these days, there is less poverty. There is a small amount of evidence to suggest we are more charitable.
Overall, it was a fascinating book, which makes you feel grateful that many things have changed for the better.