“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968


Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Sixties.It wasn't all Biba and revolution.



No time past seems to retain it's fascination quite like the sixties, and forty years after it all came to an end the decade shows no sign of losing it's appeal to writers and film makers. It was a time of huge social change but it's wrong to imagine that everyone under twenty five was involved in a massive and very cool mod project of turning the world upside down. The decade was experienced by different people in very different ways. It has always seemed to me that sixties people could be divided between those who wanted to shop in Biba and those that wanted to blow it up. A gross over simplification of course and not least because many people seem to have grown up at the time without either the style or the politics having had any impact on them at all.
One thing that can't be denied is that the sixties was a time of increasing social mobility but we tend to generalise about this. The Eastend photographers who started hanging out up west, the gangsters who thought that Princess Margaret was their mate, the sons and daughters of dockers and factory workers who became polytechnic lecturers, these were a tiny minority; albeit a minority that was beyond the imagination of their parents generation.
It has been said that the sixties, in the sense that most of us mean by the expression, that is the music style and politics , actually lasted from about 1966 until 1974. It's a fair observation.
When I look back on those times I am amazed. The people I met, the things that I did, the drugs I took. I sometimes wonder if it was all a dream.
Clearly it was not like that for everyone. Where I live now was at the time at the very heart of the sixties R&B scene, yet I know people who spent their youth just down the road from Eel Pie and never thought of going there. Just assumed that it was nothing to do with them. I have even met people who celebrated the spirit of '68 by choosing, that year of all years, to move to apartheid South Africa or Smith's Rhodesia. Unbelievable. The sixties was a time like no other, but for many it was happening to someone else.



4 comments:

Gitane said...

Never trust history yours or anybody else's. I do remember happy shoplifting afternoons in kensington high street and the little raggedy old lady in a rotten wooden booth who used to charge a toll for crossing the footbridge to eel pie island. These memories admittedly blurred by handfulls of green an blacks, blues, hearts and eventually acid are true to me. And that's as far asi want it to go. My experience, my history.

Jemmy Hope said...

Blues? I thought they were called 'tabs' in London, 'blues' up north.

Gitane said...

As I said my experience my history. Nah mate it was blues in Notting Hill french blues (that nice provencal blue as opposed to Oxford or Navy blue) that is 25/50 mg drynamil if my memory serves me well. The black and greens were 100mg,still there was always the scripted methedrin to fall back on. The acid was often liquid form which we used to take by dipping a matchstick in the little brown bottle and sucking on the wood. Fuck knows how many doses that was. The bottle wash (which was a slug of beer to rinse out the bottle) was notorious for being unpredictable in strength, you could be off your face for days. The person who invented the micro dot should have got a Nobel Prize in mental health care. In those days if you were nicked stumbling around the streets of London spaced out you could end up sectioned. Most heroin addicts at that time were threatened with sectioning and I knew a few who were,we used to get the 207 bus to a big red brick asylum in Hounslow next to the AEC bus garage, and visit our lost mates.Nuff detail?

Jemmy Hope said...

Too much really. My history says circa 1961, tabs. Maybe it's a dialect thing.

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