The pound in your pocket was a powerful thing in 1953: it bought you 16 pints of beer, or 15 portions of fish and chips, or 39 large loaves of bread or enough stamps to send 96 letters. Today you would get half a pint, half a portion, two loaves and three first class stamps.
· Blackpool won the FA Cup in 1953 with Stanley Matthews in the side but Bill Perry scoring their fourth goal to top Bolton Wanderers’ three. Bill, now 72, still lives in Blackpool, enjoying his eight grandchildren and Arsenal’s Cup Final victory this year. He earned £20 a week in 1962, his last season with Blackpool. David Beckham gets £80,000 per week basic.
· The big bookshop seller in 1953 was the Kinsey Report, 842 pages of human sexual behaviour gleaned over 13 years from 18,000 subjects. It shifted 270,000 copies. This year’s biggie is the latest, entirely sex-free Harry Potter.
· Well over two-thirds of the nation rented their homes in 1953 but for those who wanted to buy, the average house price was £2,750. These days it’s £124,752.
· A weekly wage was the standard form of payment back then, and Mr Average (because it was almost always Mr) took home £9.25. They paid 47.5% basic income tax on it and worked an average 44.95 hours, hefty compared to 2003’s 37.2. Monthly salary is the norm today. Divided by four, it averages £465 a week.
· “Some skirts are 18 inches off the floor,” gasped a 1953 article in a fashion magazine, as Dior dramatically raised hemlines by six inches. Polyester also made its first appearance. Excitement is growing on the streets 50 years later at the possible return of the mini and micro skirts.
· The Korean War ended in August 1953 after two years and seven months and an estimated 4,000,000 civilian and military deaths, 1,078 of them British. The second Gulf War ended in May 2003 after 41 days and an estimated 10,000 deaths, 32 of the casualties British.
· 1953 was well ahead of 2003 on road deaths (5,090 to 3,450) and well behind on the number of police officers (73,248 to 131,548). It won comfortably in terms of marriages (395,316-286,100) and lost heavily on divorces (28,347-156,800). There were a lot fewer of us then (53,327,333 to 58,789,194)
· We smoked less (smokers averaging ten a day for men, three for women, compared with 15 and 13 today)