This week's Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 is the delightful and funny Dear Mr Bigelow by Frances Woodsford. The book is the collected letters that Frances wrote from England to the father of her American friend between 1949 and 1961. (If any of my family members happen to see this, the book is top of my birthday wishlist!)
This morning, there was an extract from the letter of 7 November 1959. Frances writes of a television programme she has just seen in which first American and then English housewives are were asked, "What do you think is the innovation which has made the greatest difference to your standard of living in the last ten years?"
She is astonished by the responses from the US:
- Barbecue cooking
- Polythene hairspray (perhaps I didn't hear that right!)
- Power brakes
- Artificial flowers with electric lights inside
- Tinned cat food
- Composition soles for shoes
- Childbirth - today it is quite painless
- Plastic mirrors for budgerigars
Frances Woodsford is now 95 years old but she is as witty and articulate as she was when she wrote the letters. You can listen to an interview with her here.