Younger readers may be confused or worried by news that Britain is about to go back to the 1970s. Both of the major parties seem to be determined to take the country in that direction. The Conservatives started it, with a retro plan to cap energy prices, which put the pressure on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Not to be outdone, he followed up with a full-blown back to the 1970s manifesto, advocating nationalisation, price controls, nuclear disarmament, flares, British Rail sandwiches and an alliance with Fidel Castro.
This being the case we’ll hear a lot of people saying the 1970s were terrible and that going back there is a bad idea. I loved that period, but I was born in 1971 and remained below the age of 10 throughout. Power cuts and national decay are exciting when you’re young.
But if we are going back to the 1970s under May or Corbyn, what can we expect?
What should we look out for?
1) Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
2) A three day week. This might sound good, implying as it does a four day weekend, but the consequences of the economy grinding to a halt were not entirely positive.
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4) The disappearance of ears. It was considered mandatory in the 1970s for men to grow their hair over their ears. Only in the early 1980s did hairdressers start asking customers again whether or not they would like any of their ears showing. In the early 1980s, one would for a time be offered a cut in which hair was worn over the top half of the ear. Gradually, the trend moved back towards fully-visible ears. By 1982, hairdressers were cutting around ears and it was clear: ears were back.
5) There will be several years in the middle of the decade with almost no decent music (see point 6). Prog rock was involved. Then disco (dreadful) arrived and then punk (also dreadful, but necessary and important in a scorched earth sense).
6) In 1975, prog rock’s Rick Wakeman performed The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table, on ice.
7) Noel Edmonds on the television.
8) A man called Trudeau running Canada.
9) Monster Munch crisps after swimming lessons.
10) People saying on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme that by about now (2017) we will have lost the ability to walk because of flying cars, or something, and there will be too much leisure time. How will we fill all that spare time? Roller-skating, at a roller-disco, obviously, or fighting at football matches.
11) No restaurants, or hardly anything we would today recognise as a restaurant. Very little wine available.
12) Avocado bathroom suites.
13) Extremely strange cook-from-frozen burgers.
14) The Scottish National Party in retreat at Westminster.
15) Star Wars being very big.
16) Old football, in which unfit players (arriving at the ground straight from the pub with hair over their ears) run about in the mud to little effect. Followed by fighting.
17) Flying pickets.
18) Too much Heavy Metal (any Heavy Metal is too much.)
19) A widespread conviction among otherwise intelligent people that within 20 years the West will be overtaken by the Soviet Union.
20) Impeachment of a US President.