And So To 2018…
I don’t feel remotely like I am about to turn 60 next June. On this day in 1958 Harold MacMillan was the UK Prime Minister and Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of the United States. Wolverhampton Wanderers went on to win the English First Division football Championship that season, and “It’s Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty was the UK’s number one single.
Given I was only alive for 18 months of the 1950’s I consider myself to be a ‘60s child, and I have fond memories of playing out either in the garden of my parents’ three bedroom semi, or on Bispham Beach, and occasionally at that time on Bispham Gala Field. The 1970’s were my formative years as I progressed from childhood to adulthood. These were innocent times when people were more personable because we interacted face to face multiple times daily with other people of different ages: when we’d been sent shopping by Mum and Dad; told to do something by our teachers; sat next to someone at church (by the age of 17 the only remaining reason to go to church was to sit near to Lesley Hamer); or boarded a bus.
These are the same innocent times that are frequently slaughtered in the present day media as being riddled with paedophilia and general sexual abuse, when most of journalists writing the crap they write are largely far too young to have been alive back then, and whose understanding of how things were is at best scant. We have both developed as a nation since my childhood and regressed. In the 1960s women seemed consigned to the kitchen, multiple childbirths, or destined for a life in a secretarial pool, and while women’s rights still have a long way to go, they have also come a long way since then. Homosexuality was illegal back then and now we have civil marriages. Top footballers would still get the bus to a home match with their fans, where now they drive expensive cars and own countryside properties from a very young age. We have gone from the post war years into an era of international collaboration from which we now seem to have regressed. No wonder people feel a disconnect.
The pace of life was slower because we didn’t have the Internet and we didn’t have fast cars. We had two or three channels on our televisions and we used to listen more to radio, and radio was where we accessed most of our music. We would listen to Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg, and when they weren’t on air we would trawl through the long and medium wave stations (there was no FM) to try and find something else to listen to. Invariably we would end up on the same French station which was always referred to as “L’album” station partly because as children or teenagers we didn’t speak French so didn’t actually know its name, and partly because we found the word ‘bum’ amusing. Small things eh?
We didn’t have a telephone in our house for some of my early years, and actually I don’t remember when we actually had one installed. It was a landline and the phone was on a table in the hall, and because there was no privacy if we wanted to talk to those on whom we had teenage crushes we would have to camp in the smelly phone box next to the public toilets near the zebra crossing just this side of Bispham village, when your hard earned paper round money would be sucked away 2 pence by 2 pence until ‘the pips’ went and you ended the call with frantic exchanges. No mobile phones. The pace of life was much more human.
So my wish for 2018 is that people will emerge from their social media devices and take time to go and do the things that are much more natural to anyone who grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when life wasn’t all a bed of roses but when we seemed to be less personally affected by the day to day shadow boxing of incompetent politicians, when speech seemed freer and when minor misjudgements were still permissable because mistakes are part of learning, and when bank managers, teachers and doctors were still pillars of society.
Human beings are not designed to live a life online, and the lines of the ridiculously entrenched positions that many are taking will only ever be crossed if we take time to sit and talk and understand the views of others. I don’t want to live in a world without diversity and difference, and by understanding each other’s differences we can all work towards a more peaceful and compassionate world. Wishing you all a peaceful and loving 2018.