Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Living On An Island

Many years ago, when our hairstyles were flat and our TV’s were not. When tweeting was something that birds did in your garden or inside your bulbous TV whilst escaping Sylvester the Cat, we had another Jubilee.

It was 1977. Even the date looks cool written on the screen, here. If you’re of a certain age you can hardly look at it without remembering it in its pomp, dressed up as a Union Jack, a safety-pinned punk, emblazoned on celebratory mugs or being the modern, sparkly year when placed next to 1952 on school-designed banners. 

The country was awash with deference, reverence and bunting. Of course, I didn’t notice the first two, as I was 9 and looking forward to the street party.Trestle tables were lined up the length and breadth of avenues, streets, closes and crescents. Had B&Q existed in 1977 then their wallpaper profits for Jubilee week would have plummeted. But it didn’t. It was 1977. Home improvements consisted of painting over the yellow patch on the ceiling every two years or so to hide the smoke stain and papering only the chimney breast with flocked wallpaper. Steps were still washed then. Constantly it seemed. Perhaps we went in and out more.

We waved our flags and sang our songs and ate our food. None of the trestle tables collapsed, probably because health and safety was still many years away hiding in the future, probably wearing a high visibility vest and carrying a flashlight. None of the kids seemed to mind violently coloured jelly with more E numbers than a Yorkshire Scrabble set, black pudding from a real butcher and Angels Delight whipped by hand.

We have lost a lot in the last 35 years. I’m not talking of the people we then could hold but now can only remember holding.  I’m not thinking of the analogue TV signal, though how we’ll ever watch repeats of the old shows is a technological mystery to me. Not even sugary, fizzy drinks which are now just fizzy drinks, though our kids do seem to be getting fatter. I’m thinking more of a sense of belonging and community. Maybe community only exists when that community has little or nothing?  It certainly didn’t seem like we had less than anyone else in 1977. I’m pretty sure we all went out more. 

We are certainly more aware of not wanting to have less than anyone else these days. Iphone versions 1, 2, 3, and 4 are a beautiful example of this. People camping in the streets, just like 1977. Not to catch the glimpse of a passing monarch but to experience the increased retina display on a telephone, let’s say. It could’ve been one of  30 differences Apple told us we had to experience for ourselves. If we all own the latest phone we can all share the experience together, all be better than the others. We can all be individuals. It seems we still have the deference and reverence in 2012, though ours is now with technology not royalty. 

I’m no royalist. In fact I’m completely the opposite, with a slice of modernism and a glint of retribution. I’m also a realist and realise, naturally, that this country seems happy with the status quo. And, just like the rock band, the royals are two wrinkly performers playing the same tune over and over again to a bowing, head-banging crowd of people that seem to lap it up. I want to scream to the crowd…“YOU’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE!!!”

What do I know? It seems that in 2012, unlike 1977 it’s less of Whatever You Want and more of Down, Down.

Enjoy your extra day off this June. 

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