Had my first craft stall in twenty years, part of a Christmas fair at Wymondham Windmill. I did a few of these events in the 1980s so this was a nostalgic moment in many ways. I am criticised for ‘living too much in the past’. I figure if I can make money doing just that, then I’ve earned the right to say ‘up yours!’ Nostalgia is big business, but in business it goes by the names Vintage, Victoriana, Antique, and Steam Punk.
Nostalgia is the romanticising of history. Not all of history, we cherry-pick the aspects of it that we find most appealing. We daydream about Dickens’ era, ice-skating on the Thames before sitting in front of a roaring fire, with a chenille cloth and two porcelain dogs on the mantel. We conveniently forget about cholera and the infant mortality rate.
I’d like to know why nostalgia is currently so fashionable. Is there such a huge dissatisfaction with modernity, that more and more ordinary people are feeling the need to romanticise history. I specify ordinary people over and above those die-hards, like me, who only ever felt at home in a Laura Ashley shop? The answer to this might lie in the question: Is nostalgia a modern affliction or did Victorians sit around their fireplaces wistfully wishing they’d lived at the time of the renaissance? Did they hanker after a simpler age. before the unnaturalness of street lighting, and the steam trains that made their lives gather speed at such an alarming rate?