Time & Life

How we experienced the 1970s depends much on age. How we remember too. No rocket science in those words. If, like me you are in your 60s then that decade spanned the ages of 10 to 20 years. Those years are, in anyone’s life, formative and leave a lasting impression. How can they not? It was the steps from dependency as a child to becoming a self-supporting adult.

If you are in your 70s or above, then that decade was fully part of your adult life. If you are in your 50s or younger, then that decade is mostly hearsay and remembered as a child’s eye view.

These simple facts shape how we interpret the myths and legends of that turbulent era in our national story. It was a time of great change ond uncertainty.

Have we reverted? Are the 2020s to be a 1970s style decade? Is it like we are living in a time shifted version of the film Back to the Future? Maybe 50-years passing is a trigger that romanticises the past.

Just as a quick brainstorm, these random 70s events come to the fore in my mind: Moon landings. Cold War. The 3-day week. Strikes. The fuel crisis. Inflation. Arguments over Europe. Massive variety of pop music, from hippies to punk. Black and White TV. Early days of personal computing. Japanese motorcycles. Haymaking, markets, cattle, and pigs. And places: Wincanton, Yeovil, and Coventry.

One aviation event, that did leave a mark, even though it happened a long way from my West Country upbrings, was the Staines air crash[1]. This remains a pivitol event in British civil aviation history. Some good did come out of this tragic fatal accident. I still have on my desk a UK CAA coster celibrating 30 years of the Mandatory Occurance Reporting (MOR) scheme 1976-2006. I wonder if that aircraft accident affected my subsequent career path. 

On the question of stepping back in time, it’s surly true that a repeat of what went before is not on the cards in this decade. Even if reflections show common ground emerging. Aspects of human behaviour do echo down the years. The German philosopher Hegel once said, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” I don’t agree with him. Nevertheless, it’s as well to pay heed to this notable quote. It’s as if we collectively take our eyes off our shared history and then the customs, habits and ways of the past take over. This takes us back to treading the lazy path of the same old, same old, again and again. It doesn’t need to be like that but that’s where we are this week.


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-61822837

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