First Person - with Mike Delaney

Mike Delaney
Mike Delaney

This newspaper is currently living through the ‘Summer Of Love’.

By that, I don’t mean to infer that the staff are all blissed out, making daisy chains, exploring Eastern religions and letting it all hang out (man). We’re far (out?) too busy for all that nonsense.

No, it’s a campaign, right, which is running, like, during the summer, okay,and we’d really ‘dig it’ if all the folks who haven’t advertised in a while would, you know, get in touch and get into some pretty heavy deals which we’re offering.

Whoops, getting a bit carried away there. Sorry, it must be the, er, incense.

But seriously, and it is a very serious subject, to get everyone in the mood when the campaign began last Friday our advertising staff, bless, entered into the spirit of the thing by wearing appropriate dress (oh, they always dress like that? Right...).

There was even the odd tune hummed, because everyone knows the songs from that decade - they are almost in our DNA.

What IS it about the 1960s that still haunts us?

Forty four long years have elapsed since anyone lived in it, but it’s the decade that will not die.

Sure, everyone likes a little bit of nostalgia: the 1980s isquite vogue just now and even has its’ own revivalist music festival, but it’s all very tongue in cheek and cheesy, a bit of a laugh really.

I suspect this is a response similar to the way people often laugh when confronted by something awful: it wasn’t a happy decade by and large, so we try and make a joke out of it (apart for those who weren’t there and didn’t experience its full naffness).

I suppose we revere the 60s, by contrast, because it was the era when we got closest to getting things ‘right’, or as close as is possible in this vale of tears we call life.

I’m not just talking about the cliched stuff like Swinging London and The Beatles, about ‘I’m backing Britain’ and the ‘white heat of the technological revolution’, but about ordinary people’s life experiences.

I was a child in the 60s, but I can vividly remember my parents and grandparents and uncles and aunties and older neighbours reflecting on their lives.

These were people who’d lived through the First World War, the economic crash of the 1920s, World War Two and the austerity of the 1950s.

Oddly enough, as I eavesdropped at family parties, despite the horrors of those decades, they’d talk most about the ‘hungry 30s’.

They had all lived in slums, raised families in appalling conditions, and lived on, at times, nothing but air. By the 60s, they were comfortable, not wealthy, but doing all right. They lived in decent council houses, and had steady jobs. Their jobs were mostly heavily unionised. This was the era of ‘beer and sanwiches’ at 10 Downing Street, when Labour and the Tories both accepted, post war, that working people had to be looked after - it was the reward for the sacrifice the country had made for whipping Hitler.

Their sacrifice provided the platform for the baby boomers, perhaps the most fortunate generation in history.

I remember one of my uncles recalling the days of despair he he had lived through. I remember him saying, ‘we’ll never go back to that - folk won’t stand for it’.

I thank God he isn’t around now to see the mess we made of his and other’s legacy and sacrifice.

We did stand for it from 1979 onwards. Thatcher and her mates decided that the idea of the oiks getting a fair crack of the whip wasn’t really on. In many cases nowadays, people’s quality of life is now going into rapid reverse, into conditions we for many years thought we had left behind for ever.

So, by all means, enjoy listening to those old 60s hits and celebrating the decade: Maybe itcan inspire us to start ‘getting it together’ again for our generation and, more importantly, those to come.