Sunday, August 07, 2005

1970 - Heath, A Family At War, Page Three, The Goodies, State Of Emergency

The 1960s were never going to be an easy act to follow and so, as we entered the new decade, we found that "last year's styles are good for 1970". Edward Heath became Prime Minister in June, meaning that the Tories were back in power. Shortly afterwards Mr Heath, he of the hearty chuckles and bouncing shoulders, declared a state of emergency when the dockers went on strike.

On telly, we settled down to a gloomy view of a sandcastle on an overcast beach, Union flag fluttering in the wind... Yes, it was one of the best remembered series of the 1970s - John Finch's A Family At War. This was the tale of an English family, the Ashtons of Liverpool, the story beginning a year or so before the war began and then taking us through it over fifty-two long, long episodes. A Family At War ended in 1972 - the story having finally reached 1945.

The Ashton family fell apart under the strain of the war. Young David Ashton joined the airforce, slept around a lot and led his wife Sheila a dog's life; his parents, Jean and Edwin, fell out when Edwin signed the papers for their youngest son, Robert, to enlist. When Robert was killed, Jean went into a decline and soon died herself... I won't go on.

Don't despair. Not all telly was as grim as A Family At War in 1970: the year saw the start of The Goodies. This show was 1960s-style zany, reminding me of The Monkees, and often providing welcome relief from the enveloping gloom of the 1970s.

So, what music thrilled us? As a tiny wee tot of five, I loved a song called Sally by Gerry Monroe, a cover of Gracie Fields' 1930s original, and Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky, which charted in March. This song was actually so incredibly 1960s that when it was covered in 1986, one of the members of Dr and The Medics confessed to being very "into" the 60s and dressing to fit the era, although, he assured us, his underpants were from 1982!

It's difficult to estimate the huge influence the 1960s scene and 1960s pop stars had on the 1970s. Excellently funky James Brown had been around for several years when his Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine charted in 1970. The song had everything to do with the funky, free-lovin' 1960s, and not a lot in common with the grim realities of the new decade.

The Beatles officially broke up and Jimi Hendrix died.

What toys did we play with? I don't recall playing with anything that was "new out" in 1970, but we continued to adore Spirograph and
Spacehoppers, both of which had been around for a few years.

Raleigh had released the first Chopper bikes in England in September 1969, but they wouldn't become a craze for several years.