Sunday, 29 November 2015

Remembering the 1950s in the company of Neil Kinnock, Bobby Charlton, Joan Finch and Esther Sherman

You know you have reached that age when they start writing books about the time you were growing up.

In my case it is the 1950s which by and large has not had a good press.

It was eclipsed by the shiny, new and exciting 1960s and was that decade after the last world war.

So for some historians it was the in between time and that is pretty much how I have thought of it.

A grey time when we were still on rationing, the scars of the last war were everywhere and the country just looked tired.

In my defence I was one when it began and was still in short trousers when it came to an end which means my perspective will always be a bit different, more so because I became a teenager in the middle of the 60s and was captured by all that excitement of the new.

So looking back at the 1950s with a degree of objectivity it is easy to see that this was not a grey decade but one which in its way was as exciting as the “swinging 60s” that followed.

Here were the new post war fashions, new materials like Formica and of course television.

Above all it was a time of growing prosperity and consumerism and while it is easy to sneer at all of that it is well to remember that those who embraced it were the generations that had experienced the Means Test, two world wars and mass unemployment.

And much of this consumerism was aimed at us kids offering us a lot more than they had had as children.

It is a theme I do keep coming back to and this week it has bubbled up again as I read You’ve Never Had it so Good! which is a collection of interviews covering everything from schooldays, TV and radio, to trips to the seaside, and the music and fashion of the period.

And that is all I want to say for now until of course I have finished the book.

Pictures; television and washing machine, 1952  from the collection of Graham Gill and cover from You’ve Never Had it so Good!

* You’ve Never Had it so Good! Stephen Kelly, 2012, Stephen has also written British Soldiers of the Korean War and The History of the FCA.

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