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1988 v 2008 Yesterday the Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, left the nation agog when he claimed British society was in a better state than 20 years ago.

We asked our leading thinkers whether they'd like to return to the days of the prawn cocktail, four TV channels and mum only nappy changing. The answer was a surprising no In the early 1980s, Britain had just begun to slough off its reliance on packet mash and tinned pineapple. With Delia, we discovered kiwi and cranberries; trend setting restaurants proliferated and "seasonality" started to mean something again. Two decades later, celebrity chefs cater to all tastes and supermarkets offer a heaven of choice. You can buy avocados, olive oil and crme frache on almost every street corner, salads are no longer murdered with salad cream and most of us know how to do more than boil an egg. The worm has turned: despite buying three times more ready meals than any other European nation, more young Brits now cook from scratch than their Gallic counterparts. "Foreign" meant French. "Vegetarian" meant omelette. "Modern British" meant Garfunkel's. Food wasn't invented in Britain until 1987, the year the River Caf opened in West London. In the provinces, it was later still. Nostalgia is a dish best served never. Jasper Gerard is the Telegraph food critic Music: Neil McCormick Twenty years ago, Kylie Minogue had her first hit with I Should Be So Lucky. Think back to the frizzy hair, toothy grin, colourful knitwear and that relentlessly cheerful Europop jingle. Now contrast with the 2008 model: Kylie as sophisticated sex bomb with sleek modern beats. Granted, her singing may not have improved much, but everything else is off the scale. But whether your taste is for old Kylie next door or the new "X" jimmy choo beige rated version, you can find what you want on the internet smorgasbord. The music business is less defined by a particular style and sound than ever, and that is what makes it so exciting. British pop in 1988 was slick but cheesy. George Michael was our biggest star, rivalled by Rick Astley, Bros, Yazz and Glenn Medeiros. Rock had big hair, big drum sounds and a stodgy middle: think Def Leppard and Dire Straits. Give me Arctic Monkeys and Amy Winehouse any day. The best of today's music makers have an urgency, emotionalism, authenticity and creative licence that leaves '88 in the shade. Neil McCormick is the Telegraph music critic Film and TV: Andrew Collins Before the deregulating 1990 Broadcasting Act, there was no satellite television in this country. Although your initial reaction might be one of longing for a world in jimmy choo women's heels which kids actually had to go outside and play if I'm honest, I wouldn't be without access to today's extraterrestrial channels, such as FX, TCM and BBC4, or my Sky plus, which allows me, crucially, to skip the adverts and defy the schedulers to whom we were then still in hock. In 1988, British film was in good shape, thanks to the artistically stimulating output of the still new FilmFour. Spitting Image still mattered, thanks to unbeatable material from the Thatcher government, which was also being wound up by ITV's documentary Death on the Rock. It was a time before the insane pressures of the global market, when films and TV programmes were made for their own sake, not pitched at demographics. Andrew Collins left college in 1988 and is a broadcaster and film editor of Radio TimesTwenty years ago, the City of London was coming out of the Big Bang. The deregulation and competition that ensued has transformed London into the biggest international capital market, with banks such as HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland taking their place among the world's best. Manufacturing has had a turbulent time, but it has moved away from the 1980s tendency to conglomerate. Instead, the UK has developed a world class science sector that has bred commercial success. Two things have changed how business works in the last 20 jimmy choo cover years, however. Monetary policy has led to low inflation and low interest rates, meaning businesses can plan long term, and labour market reforms have made our laws more flexible. As a result, we have higher employment than much of Europe which is why I'm optimistic British business will continue to thrive." Richard Lambert is director general of the CBI Community: Lynsey Hanley Britain, for most, is a better place than 20 years ago, not least because to turn Thatcher's famous remark on its head there is such a thing as society.

David Cameron is more likely to suggest group hugs than insist fashion jimmy choo we are individuals with nothing in common except competition. Physical living conditions have improved for most, too: the estates where I grew up have been refurbished or rebuilt and feel invested in, not neglected. However, many of us work far too hard now in order to acquire "necessities" that were luxuries in 1988; the average household now has five televisions.


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