Meet The Neo-Victorians

Great Britain

tough-love-14

In order to research my next novel, I’m having to recall a time I don’t remember. It’s set in September 1969 at the end of flower power and freedom, when Charles Manson was stealing headlines from the first man on the moon.

I was at school and out of the loop for the whole Swinging London thing. But it’s clearly not a great time to be young now. A decimated NHS. College debts instead of grants. Corporatisation of the arts. Easier travel, but no way to finance it. No savings or housing without the BOMAD. The rightwingamatization (that’s a word) of USA, Poland, France, Israel, Russia.

So do the nation’s youth take affirmative action? No – new research shows Britain’s young are more likely to vote hard right and be more authoritarian than their grandparents.

I do not want to believe this of the young, and in my experience I haven’t come across the press image of them, which if I’ve got it right is;

Derogatorily known as Snowflakes, ‘unique and precious, prone to melting’, their dictionary includes Safe Space, Trigger Warning, Microaggression, Intersectionality and No-Platforming. Avoiding confrontation, they live with their folks and stay online because outside life is scary/impoverished, while the top percentile of privileged children spend their parents’ money. To show they care, they hit SEND.

I feel as if I spent the whole of my twenties getting petitions signed and going on marches to effect change. But were the sixties that great?

‘Swinging London’ belonged to a small trust-fund enclave, just as punk did later. A coterie of rich pals having fun while the rest of the country stagnated. Drugs cut a deadly swathe through the young populace, and STDs soared. Heath’s dithering brought a decade of unparalleled nightmarishness to the UK.

The sixties’ air of unfettered optimism was not based on empirical data. Sound familiar? 11 out of 13 UK polls show that voters would now reverse their Brexit decision.

So once again it’s a contradictory and confusing time. We want free trade but British goods. In the sixties, the ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign collapsed and their T-shirts, like Trump’s caps, were found to be made in China.

The difference is that this time, young people are heading in the opposite direction. Now that is something to worry about.

10 comments on “Meet The Neo-Victorians”

  1. Adam says:

    Let us not forget that the I’m backing Britain campaign came with this truly dreadful song, sung by the one and only Brucie. Listen to the uplifting lyrics and feel proud! https://youtu.be/rT8LsRVN7C4

  2. Brian Evans says:

    I was a teenager in Liverpool during the Swinging Sixties, but a middle-aged teenager so it all passed me by.

  3. Roger says:

    “Swinging London’ belonged to a small trust-fund enclave, just as punk did later. A coterie of rich pals having fun while the rest of the country stagnated. Drugs cut a deadly swathe through the young populace, and STDs soared. Heath’s dithering brought a decade of unparalleled nightmarishness to the UK.”

    There’s a lot you don’t remember: Heath became PM in 1970 and it was only a bit nightmarish compared with the previous two decades, Compared with pre-war and post-Thatcher Britain it was still remarkably pleasant and peaceful. Not many people were affected by drugs. STDs soared from a very low level to a low level. In short, for most people it was a pretty pleasant time with the antics of a small number of fools to amuse them.

  4. Bill says:

    Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
    But to be young was very heaven!

    Er, perhaps not? Perhaps never?

    Unless one was a poet?

    Youth was a burden to me, except I could run around faster.

  5. Jan says:

    I don’t think you are right Chris I worked with a bloke who was based,in the,West End when London was “swinging” and he,was definitely not in possession of a trust fund but he appreciated and benefitted from the culture change taking place. And he wasn’t alone whole lot of youngsters rode that tide.
    I think there was a knock on effect benefiting many ordinary people whose ideas changed and were broadened ….maybe the seventies were a bit of a crash back down to earth. Definitely was in the little town I lived in up north where a major steel.plant closed and my dad with about 4,000 others lost their jobs.
    But it’s always a great time to be young – although maybe it’s my rose tinted spectacles misting up my judgement.
    I saw the. bloke who wrote Trainspotting talking on Newnight saying he would swop being a wealthy well heeled man in his fifties for being a 20 year old using heroin in some grotty flat. And distasteful as that might be to some you can see where he’s coming from

  6. agatha hamilton says:

    I remember the sixties well and happily. It certainly wasn’t a time that belong to a ‘small trust-fund enclave’ – just the opposite in fact. There was such a general feeling of opportunity based on talent and merit. Look at all the working-class actors, photographers, playwrites. Design and image grew in creativity – wonderful cheap clothes, Mary Quant, Biba, Ossie Clark, hairdressers like Vidal Sassoon, and in case anyone sneers at that, it gave such a feeling of ‘modernity’ that I don’t think had happened since the twenties. And all this was a reaction to the incredibly dreary fifties, which I also remember well, rationing not that long ended, houses always cold, food depressing.
    I sound nostalgic now, I know, but I’m not really. It was just a really good time for most people, think. Now is better though, obviously – the ease of living and travel for most people, the internet, medicine, I could go on, but have done long enough..

  7. admin says:

    Agatha and Jan, thanks for these balancing views…I’m still doing the research at the moment and I guess I should keep in mind who I’m reading. I guess for many it depends on where they were raised.

  8. Jan says:

    Agatha that was a very interesting post. I guess it wasn’t just the famous names that reaped the rewards of the radical cultural change, of the explosion of creativity. Would you believe I play bowls with an elderly (86!) Year old gent who was a contemporary of Vidal Sassoon who moved in that same world who together with a whole group of creative talented people radically changed hair styling, cutting, colouring. Ivan knew Sassoon well and considered himself more than the famous guys equal….and others in fashion, music entertainment will have similar tales to tell. I am a couple of years younger than Chris so it was all happening a bit too early and a bit too far away for me to have really experienced directly but what I time it was the decade when youth culture, political dissent, alternative ideas really took hold.

  9. Jan says:

    Agatha that was a very interesting post. I guess it wasn’t just the famous names that reaped the rewards of the radical cultural change, of the explosion of creativity. Would you believe I play bowls with an elderly (86!) Year old gent who was a contemporary of Vidal Sassoon who moved in that same world who together with a whole group of creative talented people radically changed hair styling, cutting, colouring. Ivan knew Sassoon well and considered himself more than the famous guys equal….and others in fashion, music entertainment will have similar tales to tell. I am a couple of years younger than Chris so it was all happening a bit too early and a bit too far away for me to have really experienced directly but what a time it was the decade when youth culture, political dissent, alternative ideas really took hold.

  10. Joel says:

    The Sixties was a noise around the next corner – pinched that from (I think) Alan Aykbourn, but it was true. As an East End lad doing O and A levels, the nearest I came to the unaffordable Swinging Sixties was ‘Ready Steady Go!’, which took me to the record shop the next day (after my Saturday job in the markets), or going along the Kings Road on a bus to somewhere else. ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ sums up the era that never was. As a retired 60-plus person, I ask ‘did it really happen, or was it invented and sold big-time to every mug under the Sun?’ The nearest I came to the ‘Summer of Love’ was seeing the film ‘Woodstock’ years later. Not complaining, I had a good time doing other things, but few would have believed that, comparing my tales to the far more real fantasy…

Comments are closed.