11.12.2005 03:56 - The Seventies
Being a worker in an industry where the average age is often a lot younger than myself, I occasionally have to enlighten fellow workers about certain periods of history.
A case in point. The 1970's. I used to work at a place with a young lad named Kevin, who seemed to believe that the 1970's was like some sort of nirvana to grow up in.
The seventies were unmitigated shit. OK, it wasn't all shit - things started to improve from 1976 onward, but on the whole, they were shit.
Take, for example, TV. TV in the 1970's was not the wonder it is held up to be nowadays. Yes, there were some wonderful programmes, but they hardly ever got repeated. Most of it, just like now, was unmitigated shite. Dreadful comedians with terrible perms. Endless boring sport, often pre-empting a favorite programme. It all started at 4pm, and stopped at 10:30pm. As for Sunday afternoons, don't even get me started. We didn't have a colour television until 1975, and so had to put up with glorious black-and-white until our last black and white set finally gave up the ghost. A colour set was duly ordered, but this was in the days before automatic colour balance, and so considerable time had to be spent tweaking the balance so that the red wasn't so bright, meaning that everyone on the TV looked as through they'd been sunburnt. As for video, forget it. I didn't even see a home video recorder until about 1981.
How about music, then?
That was mostly shit as well.
Remember, that for every brilliant group that came out of the seventies, there was a whole legion of mind-numbing shite, the calibre of "Seasons in the Sun", "Moldy Old Dough" and numerous other acts and songs which have not stood the test of time.
But you had all that lovely valve-based equipment, didn't you?
Well, WE didn't have a record player until 1972, and when we did get it, it was second-hand from my Uncle. It was a large, sideboard-like affair. It was also mono-only. It required time to warm up, because it contained great coke-bottle valves, which, although they definitely imparted a certain warmth to the sound, needed replacing frequently. Dire warnings were given about leaving the thing on, or knocking it, or even turning it up too loud, because then a valve would go. Even though these valves did impart warmth, most of it was frittered away as heat by the inefficent oval speaker hidden behind grille cloth, which had once heard of the idea of treble, but wanted no truck with it, and farted loudly in complaint when presented with more than it could handle - which was just about any record we owned. My grandmother had a modern-looking, plasticky, transistorised portable "Bush" record player, again mono, on which she would play her Val Doonican record. Whilst the radiogram was no fan of treble, the Bush was all too keen on it, but forgot the bass in its hurry to reproduce the piercing sonic treble qualities of Mr. Doonican bearing witness to flagrant donkey-race fixing. Eventually, the entire radiogram died and was thrown out. We didn't have a record player again until 1977.
Cinema was going down the pan until 1977, when Star Wars came out. A lot of local cinemas were turned into Bingo halls.
Groovy fashions, then?
Groovy? None of the so-called "groovy fashions" that people talk about from the seventies really existed in a little mining town like ours. Lapels were wide, as were trousers, but they were usually made of some hideous man-made material that generated enough static that the wearer had to carefully earth themselves, especially if sitting on chairs with metal legs, to avoid a sudden shock. Fashion just wasn't something everyone could afford. Often clothes would be hand-me-downs.
So, to sum up. The 1970s. Power cuts, no computers, no internet, no phone until 1979, let alone handheld recievers - that was something right out of Star Trek, no decent cars (leastways British ones) poor TV service, poor TV coverage. No geezers bouncing round in Afros, as some people seem to think - if you bounced round in an Afro where I came from you would probably been beaten senseless - crap music, expensive musical instruments, Union unrest, strikes, the four-day week, shitty man-made fabrics and no central heating.
Don't ever let anyone tell you different.