Sunday, 19 March 2017

1976 All That

In an idle moment, I cast about for something to write about and hit on 1976. No reason.


I was 25 for most of 1976, a young teacher, trying to have babies, wondering what to do to take my mind off the failing. It was, I know, the Bi-Centennial year in the USA, and I, a former 'American Studies' student, took an interest. "Why American Studies?" My father asks, in 1970, aghast. He doesn't think a career could be carved out of American Studies. " Because, dad, I don't understand why you don't like Americans and I need to learn!" I was SO naive .. My poor father, during the war, had to vie with monied GI's for my mother's attentions... He needs to be forgiven.


So I applied for the Fulbright Exchange Teacher Programme, and succeeded, but the doing of it came later in 1977, and is another story.


Harold Wilson was PM, at least until April, and I remember him: jovial, pipe-smoking, the first PM I voted for. His wife was a poet, I felt a connection. He reckoned that the, 'white heat of technology' would bring wealth to all, and shorter working hours. And it could have. Instead we have zero hours contracts and food banks, but hey! There's the Internet, so I guess it's not all bad. Steve Jobs founded Apple in a garage, and here I am tapping this out on an iPad.


John Curry danced himself to gold on ice, and I can still picture him. Dazzling, spectacular, amazing ... There aren't enough words. But it was the 70's and there was no way to stave off AIDS: he died too young, and, right now, I feel tears welling-up, and not just for him.


"Save All Your Kisses For Me" won the Eurovision Song Contest. I loathe the Eurovision Song Contest with perfect loathing. If I'd have thought we would never have to enter it again I would have voted Brexit. But I know such dreams never come true, so I didn't. Brit James Hunt, once known as 'Hunt the Shunt' wins the F1 Championship, and Concorde begins is inaptly named 'commercial' service. As a teenager, at school in Gloucester, I watched open-mouthed in awe, as this sleek air-liner on a test flight veered round Robinswood Hill moments before it's "BOOM!!"


Yes, it could break the sound barrier then, but never over-land after coming into service.


I scour the lists of births and deaths. There are many of both in 1976. I am quite taken by the fact that I only recognise ONE of the celebrity births (Ross Noble) but go misty-eyed over the departures: L S Lowry,Sybil Thorndike, Agatha Christie, Benjamin Britten ... They are still about in one way or another.


We were a country at war in 1976. Oh My God! Over fish. The Great Cod War, with Iceland. Then one day, someone woke up to how ludicrous it was, and we brought the gun boats home. For the record: Iceland won.


I guess we kind of were at war with the Irish, too. I have Irish ancestry, and kept my fingers crossed for peace, which came, in time.


It's comforting to know that wars end.


1976 was a hot year. Although as a Brit, the weather always plays a huge role in my life, there are two events that stand out. The Great Freeze of 1962/3 and The Heat Wave of 1976. We expect moderation in all things, and 97F in Cheltenham is just not on.


I congratulate myself on still being here, no small feat given the wars, plagues, extreme weather events and the stupidity of politicians. When I was 25 I didn't know what was to come, but now that it HAS come, and pretty well gone, I can sit back, contented. It's good. All good.


John Curry


Harold Wilson


"Save All Your Kisses For Me"


Concorde Breaking The Sound Barrier



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