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Thursday, 5 June 2008

The 70s...

Younger readers will, I trust, indulge another mincing sashay down Memory Lane, but my thoughts are ineluctably tugged back to those halcyon days when life was young and everything and anything seemed possible. It was a simpler time back then: men were men, women were an amorphous, sexually ambivalent ball of gender confusion and you wouldn't have put *anything* past Jeremy Thorpe.

It was into that world of three-day weeks, 7 pint tins of Watney's red barrel, burning bras and freshly minted decimal currency that I emerged onto the previously dank and denim-clad pop scene; a luminous lepidoptera, a bright beacon of glamour to light our way through the bleak, power-cut stalked evenings and inspiring the youth of the nation to 1001 new uses for a roll of baco foil, some copydex and a set of crocheted place mats.

Of course, the technology was so different in those days. We had none of your wi-fi enabled blue teethed solar powered wiki-waki-woo-woo nano-nanu-technology in those days! The closest we got to Googling something was watching Googie Withers in 'Within these Walls' - and even she was liable to shut down abruptly at 5.30 if it was a weekend. That and the mechanical bird on 'Going for a song'with Arthur Negro, was about as high tech as it got in those days. Nowadays you couldn't even *say* Arthur Negro on the telly, let alone watch him - so I suppose the changes haven't all been for the worse...although that mechanical bird must be getting on a bit. By crackee she was a goer...The height of technology back then was a pen with a digital watch built into it. Oh, we can laugh about it now, but don't forget that the Soviets got within an ace of landing just such a craft on the moon. They'd have done it too, those Ruskies, if only they'd been able to develop a cosmonaut two millimetres high with a massive tolerance to Quink navy blue ink...

Elsewhere we had OPEC, BOAC, BEA, Spacelab, Stagflation - you name it, we'd find an acronym for it or conflate two completely separate words into a new one. Britain's long awaited entry into the Common Market got us all excited. Enoch Powell stopped moaning about immigrants from the Commonwealth for long enough to start having a go at our continental neighbours across the English Channel. But sadly his warnings about 'Rivers of Ouzo' went unheeded, even though the portents were there for all to see. Take the commemorative football match at Wembley between England and a specially selected European All-Stars XI that was arranged to mark the occasion and which was marred by ill-feeling, mistrust and cynical gamesmanship; although, to be fair, team spirit wasn't much better in the European All-Stars XI changing room either... In a bad tempered and spiteful game, three players were sent off before a Norwegian trawlerman escasped his marker to nod home at the far post. Despite his having clearly been several miles inside British territorial waters, the goal was allowed to stand, sparking an unecessary bout of net-snipping that culminated in an ugly brawl in the centre circle over fishing quotas.

But it wasn't all Fray Bentos steak & kidney pies, Stork SB and 'Runaround' with Mike Reid, oh no... We had Steve Austen in The Six Million Dollar Man too - although with all that stagflation, you'd probably have had to shell out nearer £400,000 for him by the end of the first series, only to find his left arm only worked every other day and he could only do the bibbibibibibib noise whilst running in slow motion between the hours of daylight on Saturday and Sunday. John Arlott's voice booming out of the transistor radio could still reassure that God was an Englishman and all was well with the world, and there, just visible above the sun-dappled rooftops was the sleek silhouette of the prototype Concorde on a test flight, nosing through the blue into an impossibly exciting future where anything - soda streams, Breville's toasted sandwich makers, etch-a-sketch, you name it - seemed entirely possible.

Of course, it couldn't last. The signs were there, if only we'd been able to tear ourselves away from sticking in our Green Shield Stamps for long enough to see. Thatcher the Milk Snatcher was lurking in the shadows. Not content with depriving the nation's poor and needy young folk of their unhygienically sun-addled miniature bottles of state subsidised silver top milk, she'd soon be back to close down all the mines, sink the Belgrano and sell off the family siver. Then, in one final act of betrayal, she brought down the curtain on that glorious, sunny era once and for all. A man can stand for many things, but it was a dark and treacherous day when they changed the name of the Post Office Tower....

L.U.V. on y'all,





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