On Wednesday at Renegades, this seems to be the start of many blogs I am writing! However the discussions are very interesting, entertaining and helpful.
Anyway, on Wednesday at Renegades, Peter made a point that the 1970’s don’t seem that far back. I saw some smiles from the younger members and there was a short discussion on this. Of course the early 70’s are now 40 years ago, as far back as the 1930’s were then, and to me that felt like ancient history! For me at almost 59 this period was when my musical, artistic and many other tastes and preferences were formed.
So what do we look for when we write about the near past. There was a TV programme the other week on the history of the Top Ten singles. It made some very good points which many people in set dressing and costumes should take note of. Most of the music in the charts in the 60’s and 70’s was not cutting edge (like the stuff that comes from the Talent programmes nowadays), finding alternative music wasn’t easy as I noted in a blog a couple of days ago. Outside a few richer people in the UK there weren’t many hippies! Not everyone was a mod or rocker. Most young people dressed like their parents in the 60’s, it was in the first part of the 70’s that things changed. Most parents/adults dressed well as they did in the 40’s and 50’s with a passing nod to the present. Britain was a grey and dull place and until the later 70’s still with many areas being rebuilt after the War. Sunday was an unbelievably dull day, pubs opened at 12 and closed at 2, then didn’t open again until 7 until 10.30, sport, music, entertainment didn’t happen, old war films showed on one of only two available TV channels. If you wanted fun, you had to be rich! For those with cars, Sunday afternoon drives relieved the stultifying boredom. Just look at the drama, Look Back In Anger takes place in the boredom of Sunday afternoons. I lived in the 1980’s in a village in Mid Wales which was dry on Sundays, people walked the mile or so to the next village which was in a different local authority for a drink. We had a vote which changed things, I was one of around 300 who voted to keep it dry, as I didn’t like the glossy leaflets the big breweries put out, and loved the hand made efforts of the chapels who told me I was on route to Hell!
Nearer to now as a writer you also have to be careful. I started Underpainting in the early 90’s. At that time there were hardly any mobile phones, people who had them were mainly businessmen and scoffed at as yuppies, in fact there were even TV ads to persuade people mobiles were a good thing, remember the ‘little wife’ arriving late at an empty station and no buses or taxis, the lights going off, she needed saving by big brave hubby! So get her a phone you unthinking beast! That element (not the ad) of mobiles appears in Underpainting, one of the main characters feels embarrassed owning a mobile phone. I wondered whether to remove it, but I will keep it as a period piece and it creates tension, a good thing!
Now look! It is hard to remember when there were rows of phone boxes and in student areas queues to ring home at the weekend, we wrote and received letters, there were only 3 then in the mid 80’s 4 TV channels, no PCs except in the office and no Internet! For those who didn’t live at that time we also broke up rocks, hunted for our food and dragged women around by their hair into our caves (just watch Themroc)!
I think what I am trying to say is that when writing perceptions of a period are very easy to get wrong. In the 50’s/60’s we had pictures of cars and life in the next Century, flying around with fins, we wore silver suits using jetpacks and lived in ‘futuristic’ homes. Things change, but maybe not as quickly as we think, life is much more conservative (note the small ‘c’) than we think.
Today’s photograph is where I write as I am fed up of snow pictures! Room was reasonably warm at 10.55am, though I need 3-4 layers on to keep warm! I must get some pictures up…