Thursday, 17 December 2015

Loons, lava lamps and growing up ............ the 1970's

Larva lamps I have known
Now it is odd the way that some decades get the thumbs up and others are relegated to the dustbin of history.

So the 1960's will always been the “Swinging 60’s, the 1890's will remain the “Gay 90's” and the 1920’s will be forever the “Roaring 20s”

And by contrast the following decade which began with a world depression and ended with a world war will never be remembered for the advances in technology, much that was innovative in design and culture and a growing prosperity in some parts of the country.

All of which brings me to the 1970's much berated by  journalists and second rate historians who are content to fall back on the lazy stereo types of striking workers, questionable fashions and larva lamps.

Of course those shallow titles, often coined on a slow day in a newsroom do contain much that is true of a period.

For my generation the 1960's was an exciting time in all sorts of ways while for my mother the 30's would always be the Means Test, mass unemployment and the slow slide to war.

Still a student, 1970
And any history of the 1970s does have to take in the three day week, the widespread industrial conflict and plenty of very grim wars from Vietnam and Cambodia, to southern Africa and the Middle East.

But nasty wars and equally nasty dictators along with strikes, tasteless design and awful fashions can be found in any decade during the last two centuries.

So it’s not that I make a special defence of the 1970's but just that like any time in history it was a mix of the good and bad and the happy and sad added to which it was the decade I passed from being a student into the world of work and along the way got married and bought a house.

All of which are reckoned to be pretty big stages in anyone’s growing up.

And set against the dismal days of the three day week and later the bin dispute there was the legislation to address equal pay and some aspects of discrimination in the workplace, a determination to challenge racist attitudes and a whole range of exciting new ideas in fashion and popular culture.

Down at the eight day loolkng for loons and strawberry perfume, 1973
At which point someone will cite the underlying issues of our economic decline, the continuation of the huge disparity in wealth, the persistence of racism and sexism and some very dodgy TV programmes.

But all of these could be found in the 60s and in the decade that followed but alas tend to be ignored.

So with this in mind I rather think I will set off on a new series exploring the 1970s and include a few of the things that were special to me including the lava lamp which despite everything my kids will say I still think was pretty neat.

Pictures; lava lamp, 2007, Saltmiser, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States license., Andrew Simpson, 1970, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and ; On the Eighth Day, 111 Oxford Street, in April 1973, m00173, y H. Milligan, H.,  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

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