Friday, September 30, 2011

Decades of Difference

In your pocket
The First Decade
There are little, unnecessary pockets in babies’ jeans and dungarees and t –shirts. These pockets are too small for anything useful; except perhaps for choking hazards like some copper pennies or peanuts that you wouldn’t want to put in a baby’s pocket anyway, even if the baby doesn’t yet have the hand eye co-ordination to take the choking hazard out of the pocket and choke on the thing. These pockets are often decorated with gender specific items such as flowers and trucks, cars, trams or butterflies in pink or red or blue or glittery purple with the occasional unisex yellow duckling.
Babies have pockets even though they don’t really need them. The pockets are just a decorative flourish adding to the objectification of the ‘baby’ in our lives as a mini statement asserting our place in society.
Ever reached your fingers inside a baby’s pocket in search of loose change? What did you find? A useless, probably gender specific, fluff depository.
Ever seen a baby with their hand in their pocket? Thought not.
The Second Decade
Pockets become a bit more interesting in those middle and end of childhood years. You can use them for storing all sorts of interesting things like stones and acorns and pine cones, if you can fit them in, which you probably can if you’re determined enough.
You can also sneak forbidden toys into your school trousers to show them off to your friends, though God forbid you lose them ‘cos your parents will go nuts. Spare sweets get stuffed in pockets, though not often as they are usually scoffed as quickly as they are received and if they are stuffed unwanted into pockets they are usually found some weeks later fluffy but still edible. In the latter part of this decade, you will still keep your precious things in your pockets but they’re no longer likely to be acorns and leaves. Increasingly they’re small electronic goods that play music and films, double up as cameras and videos and phones and are probably still forbidden at school but you take then in anyway, with less fear and more fecklessness. They are fun and bleep but they don’t have the romance of football cars or Top Trumps.
As you get older, you will probably need, or at least think you may need, someday, the neat little small pocket at the front of your jeans that seems to be especially designed to hold condoms.
The Third Decade
You probably still carry your electrical toy in your pocket, although now it seems to be ‘important’ for work. You also now have a credit card and some cash. Perhaps, for sophistication or ease, a purse or wallet and maybe a lipstick. You will probably have many keys now, for a home, a car, maybe your bike lock, so they have to have a home too.
The condoms may still be there too and maybe a packet of cigarettes or some other form of recreational drugs that you want to keep close to hand. Your pockets have become a more essential accessory to your everyday life.
The Fourth Decade
 You may perhaps have a partner now or a marriage under your belt, so the condoms may have left the pocket for the security of the bedside cabinet. This decade may not differ much from the last, except that now you may carry headache tablets or heartburn remedies or maybe both together in a sign of your increasing age and inability to effortlessly cope with alcoholic overindulgence and too much food.
Possibly, your life will have dramatically altered, with the addition of a baby or two, In which case your pockets will have become depositories of many more essential things; like a dummy; fluffy and perhaps a bit careworn because it´s the only one your baby likes, in particular to sleep, and is, therefore, never placed on tables or shop counters when you are out for the fearful consequences of loss, but always placed in the pocket. Small plastic toys and acorns may also be found in your pockets, placed there by small friendly fingers, or by you when the small friendly fingers of your small friendly child have tired of them. If your baby is still small, you will probably carry all their stuff in an overflowing baby bag which never seems big enough for all you think you may need for a day stuffed into your pocket, with the dummy and the plastic toy and the stray acorn and the wallet, keys and phone, will be the smallest pack of wipes you can buy and some raisins for an emergency snack.
The Fifth Decade
If you had any kids, they will be older now and you may have been lucky enough to evolve through that detritus of baby and young child care, so you´re back to the wallet and the keys and the phone. You may even be wearing the same jeans as in your last decade or two, which means that you may have a faint rectangular imprint on your back pocket where you habitually keep your wallet or phone.
You may occasionally find an unwanted sharp plastic toy but mainly the pockets belong to you again although the credit card increasingly seems to be used by your children.
You may have a garden that you love a bit more so sometimes your secateurs may be shoved carefully, strictly in the back pocket, for safety.
The Sixth Decade
You always seem to have tissues in your pocket, there for you to dab with your tongue to use on your grandchild’s face. For gardening you have a multi pocket jacket which holds everything in it.
After this...
There are no pockets in shrouds, as my mum used to say. Although we probably all do our best to avoid inheritance tax, thus leaving our wealth to stay within the small minority of privilege.


  1. I love that idea: Pockets for stages of life. The change from recreational to functional and occasionally dysfunctional use, and then to no use at all. Such transcience in such a little thing! I love this blog entry. Very pensive.

  2. Firstly, this blog made me laugh because I too wonder what purpose those teeny weeny pockets serve on baby clothes. I think it's for mums to pop their fingers in and amuse themselves at the teeniness, pointlessness but undoubtless cuteness of them. Secondly I realised that I am in my fourth(!!) decade and keep a Tonka truck in my pocket for toddler boredom emergencies!! I look forward to discovering what treasures my boys will sneak into my pockets for safe keeping.

  3. This made me laugh a lot. Imagine if we still lived in a time where girls had dresses with pretty useless pockets (if they had them at all)like my childhood - The only thing they were good for carrying was a hanky. Mine had Holly Hobby embroidered in the corner - not thought about that in years! Do people still carry those sort of hankies?

  4. Hi Sian, I have been reading and enjoying your recent posts but my phone won't let me comment so have hopped on the laptop this morning to rectify.
    Loved this. I have sometimes wondered about what we keep in our handbags and how that changes too.
    Have a great week.


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