Yesterday, spurred on by last week’s fiasco I was determined that I'd face my nemesis, and what's more... I’d make him work for me. That decided I dove straight into my old attention starved MSS, denying thought the chance to steer me off track yet again and dragged the short stories out from under their beefier peers. There were five or six plus several copies all stuffed in a swollen Jiffy bag. On top was actually an article rather than a story, entitled ‘Taking Stock: Women of the Sixties’, (1987). As everything I wrote ‘in ye olden days’, this was written on a sit-up-and-beg typewriter which meant that without spell-check and auto-formatting, but with me being lazy, the overall appearance was deeply embarrassing.
Still, intrigued I read through it and again, though by then it had already grown biro scrawls to add to the to the mess. The piece was attempting to offer a balanced responce to the all the flack the 1960's era was getting from some sectors of the public, but particularly from the media at the time, seemingly for pretty much everything wrong in the western world; it was getting interesting... During that actual period the vitriol was spread fairly evenly from what I recall, between all dope-smoking/layabout/draft dodging, long haired, guitar playing... drop-outs. Some twenty years later opinions had obviously fermented.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, blame appears to have been disproportionately targeted onto the shoulders of the former fairer sex, although it must be said that those ho-mo-sexuals and foreigners didn’t get off that lightly. It was just unfortunate that it was still our fault too. Had we back then behaved like ladies and stayed with our own kind, the first type wouldn’t have ‘gone that way’ and the latter would have stayed away - wouldn’t they?
Although, how I remember it...
Of course there were protests, stand-offs and sit-ins, but on the whole the people didn’t fight or throw explosive canisters, or even resist arrest. There was strong opposition to apartheid and to racism in general, to homophobia, fascism, the Vietnam War. ‘Ban-the Bomb’ was on banners and badges and every Hippy’s lips, uniting people against the use of nuclear bombs and weapons. The CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), which had started in 1958 branched out to incorporate Biafra, the Vietnam War and Housing in the UK. But during all of this there was always music playing... people were singing, clothes were crazy, feet were bare and hair was long. All we needed was Peace, Freedom and love, love, love...
As a baby of the fifties and a keeper-upper of fashion - in my heart and mind only, but still - I knew from a precociously young age that S.E.X, (formerly known as “you know what”) was born alongside Love , Freedom and readily combustible bras in the sixties and early seventies, somewhere far, far away from home. It all went on, it seemed in places like London, New York, San Francisco and other exotic somewhere else’s where I most definitely wasn’t, but could drift in and out of whenever reality became insufferable.
Of course we, the young generation, understood that the old folk and other squares had known about SEX even before we were born. Not only had they known about it, but obviously they also had also DONE IT. However, the only function of sex for them and those that went before, was to produce babies and from time to time, to relieve the mounting tensions in men. Otherwise, why would they have bothered? ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)’ hadn’t been written and multiple orgasms weren’t even invented. Their primitive ways, I’m now sorry to admit were the butt of a great many jokes...but then it was the Age of Aquarius and SEX was outed as a no-holds-barred fun thing to do, anytime, anywhere, with... well, so I was told. For anyone regardless of gender or race, if they were young and hip enough to hop onto the bandwagon as it swung sensuously by, they were welcomed with armfuls of flowers and signs and songs of peace. Freedom came hand-in-hand with love, and everything positive seemed possible. The times they definitely were a-changin'.
Other things were going on too, often on quiet another plain, such as excessive materialism and rampant consumerism. They tend to be brushed under the carpet when the era is discussed. Not that I at all condone all else that went on. I am strongly against drugs, but I know too well the damage that they can do. Had I been around them back then, who knows, I'm just glad that I wasn't. Obviously 'free love' or unprotected sex or sex for the sake of it is never to be advocated either.
But what was so good, was that people were genuinely accepting of one another. In many ways we were further forward regarding racial, gender and sexual-orientation equality then, than we are in some places today. And, we sincerely believed with all our heart's that by marching or sitting-in or wearing a badge and deeply meaning it, that we could change the world. Isn't it time we looked back at the 60's or the Hippy era with a more open mind, to see what positive lessons we can learn?
My memories maybe limited by my age and location during that period, or coloured by comparisons to other stuff life was spewing up at the time - but as an adult now, I still miss something about the way it made me feel...
As alwasys, thank you for stopping by any I wish you well on your journey through the next 7 days.Should you be interested in reading any of the previous weeks ramblings, please use links under the logo at the top of this page. Michele Burnett