Was life really as simple as we remember it?

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

In his latest monthly column, county councillor for Fakenham Tom FitzPatrick reflects on how much life has been changed by technology.

Most of us like things to stay the way we remember. As the years go on we look back to a life that was much less complicated and everyone was content with the way things always were.

But, is that really the case?

Who can remember having to phone around and try to find the best quotes for car insurance? Do you remember leafing through the glossy holiday catalogues, finding that dream holiday, only to find that they had been fully booked for months?

Job hunting was done by searching through the papers on a particular day, sending off a cv and covering letter and often hearing nothing back? The good old days when life was simpler?


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Life has always moved on and improved. I once read that you cannot successfully keep the best of the past by trying to preserve the present in aspic.

Smart phone

Tom FitzPatrick said the internet and technology have improved a number of different areas of our lives. - Credit: Jan Vasek

The information revolution has been gaining pace over the past thirty years and has really accelerated over the past five years or so.

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Most of us now do so much online that life really has changed from 20 years ago.

People stay in touch with their friends using social media, although the positive experience for the majority can be ruined by the thoughtless few.

Searching for ancestors was a specialised hobby at one time when people had to travel for hard to access records, make appointments and trust to luck.

Now, records and available online and it is one of the fastest-growing interests, bringing together people from all over the world with common ancestry.

Travel abroad has been revolutionised. People search the internet for interesting places, look for accommodation and then book flights and car hire.

Young woman using smart phone as a social media concept.

We use the internet from everything to staying in touch with friends, to booking a family holiday. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I am always amazed at some of the exotic places some of my friends have travelled to in recent years. Last minute bookers like me, or as some would say ‘slightly disorganised’ people can still search around and find a better deal on things like car insurance without the risk of failing to renew in time.

Shopping and ordering online is second nature for some, although we need to remember to look at ways of supporting our local businesses, though many of them have successfully embraced ways of selling online as well.

Looking for a new home has vastly changed. When I bought my first house, I remember finishing work and going to the area I was interested in and pressing my nose against the by then closed estate agents’ windows, then have to phone the next day to see if the property was still available.

All too often it had already been sold.

Now, we can browse property all over the country and abroad and get details as soon as they come on the market. Everyone now has the same chance to find a property and make an offer.

King's Lynn town signs. Pictured: the King's Lynn sign next to the Hardwick Roundabout and the Hardw

Norfolk has always been an innovative county. King’s Lynn was the only town in Britain that was a member of the Hanseatic League - Credit: IAN BURT

I know that many do not want change and want things to stay the same. But Norfolk has always been an innovative county.

King’s Lynn was the only town in Britain that was a member of the Hanseatic League, trading with the Baltic and bringing prosperity to the town and the wider area.

Modern rotation of crops using turnips, wheat, clover and barley were developed just down the road from Fakenham by Charles Townshend at Raynham. He was affectionately known as Turnip Townshend, a hero of the agricultural revolution.

Thomas Cooke at Holkham was another pioneer of agricultural innovation with improved equipment as well improving the stock by breeding sheep and cattle.

Being at the forefront of innovation is definitely not a new thing for this area and we should welcome so many changes for the better.

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