Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Life on Mars

The last episode tonight of this excellent BBC series revealed the secret of Sam Tyler's bizarre return to 1973 from the present day, and ended with this most PC copper choosing the sexist, racist past to today's bland technospeak era. The series presented a fairly accurate view of the early seventies from what I can remember, but I am not sure I would exchange 2007 for 1973. Back then I was a journalist on a local paper in Lancashire - initially on the weekly Ormskirk Advertiser where the highlight of the week was donning a black tie so that I could stand at the church gates taking the names of the mourners at the funeral of some local luminary. The local Labour candidate was one Robert Kilroy-Silk who was a constant source of anti-Tory stories, but mostly it was council meetings and court cases. Being a weekly paper, we would spend the second half of the week in the pub.
Later that year I joined the Evening Post and Chronicle in Wigan, where the stories had a harder news edge, but the pub continued to play a central role. Wigan was a depressed town and it was a depressing time, I recall. We were well into the decade that time forgot. Britain was the sick man of Europe, the Heath government was on its last legs with industrial disputes everywhere, the music scene was crap and unemployment was at record levels. I was living in a council house in Skelmersdale - a new town that had been built to handle Liverpool's overspill population and which was home to huge numbers of single mothers. The local factories had closed down and no one had any hope. Inflation was rising - beer had gone up to nearly 15p a pint - and the Socialist Workers Party actually seemed to make sense. I somehow got myself elected Father of the NUJ Chapel - no one else wanted the job - and they called us out on a three day strike. We stood in the picket line showing solidarity with the union, but knowing that all we were achieving in fact was three days' loss of pay. I tried to recoup my losses by selling central heating door to door.
Yes 1973 was mean and nasty. There were no mobile phones, no computers and no work. But on the plus side there were no speed cameras, no road humps, no green fascists going on about global warming, no war in Iraq, no Blair and no CCTV. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all.

2 Comments:

At 2:16 am , Blogger bleeeeeeeeeeeeeee said...

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