70s

There are echoes of the past in what’s happening now. One of these echoes is the exclamation that it’s getting more and more like the seventies. It’s a reaction to the turbulence and uncertainty that is all around. Especially when the spectre of inflation and recession is looming over us.

It’s easy to have mixed feelings about that decade. It can be said that the sixties were more revolutionary when it comes to the explosion of progressive attitudes and societal change.

The seventies weren’t a homogeneous period. In Britain, those turbulent 10-years culminated in a major political transformation as Thatcherism kicked-off in 1979. Romanising the seventies is foolish. That’s particularly the case when drawing comparisons between the here and now.

Life expectancy is one indicator[1]. The enormous improvement since the 70s is self-evident. What’s concerning about the situation is being put in jeopardy by a considerable slowing in these figures in recent years.

This chimes with lived experience. I remember pubs so full of smoke that the walls were stained, and a fog hung over the bar. Health and Safety legislation too. Car seatbelts and motorcycle crash helmets all helped reduce early fatalities. Workplaces have improved dramatically. Shivers run down my spin when I consider some of the toxic chemicals that were used in engineering and agriculture.

No way should anyone sane want to go back to the full 70s experience. That’s not to say there are cultural highlights that made a positive contribution to life in the UK. Punk rock coinciding with the Queen’s jubilee created a world of colour and vitality that has been lacking in the 202os.

Star Wars fans will no doubt cite Star Wars. There were some dam good movies made in the 70s. I’m seeing the mirror ball rotating, as the music from Saturday Night Fever rings in my ears.

On the technology side it was the time when the ground was broken. Microsoft and Apple own their success to the availability of early digital “chips”. A degree of that came from the strides made as the Apollo programme forced the advancement of digital technology. The Cold War played its part too.

On a personal note, motorcycles played a pivotal role in my decade. Growing up in a rural community the importance of mobility cannot be undenied. It was fun. It was freedom. It was exciting. I’d watch, and sometime marshal at road racing, grass track and motocross meetings[2]. I’m only here because a mate pulled me out of the path of an oncoming Laverda[3] side car outfit at a grass track meeting near Mere.

From 1970, to the day 1980 arrived much changed. Summing it up there were better times ahead.

POST: There were better cars ahead too. But I still have affection for my bright red Sunbeam Imp Not a Mini but a Sunbeam Imp | Articles | Classic Motorsports


[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/datasets/nationallifetablesunitedkingdomreferencetables

[2] https://www.acu.org.uk/

[3] https://laverda.club/

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