This was my experience of 1970's Britain, well the early 70's. We tuned in, turned on, dropped out and partied until our heads spun. We believed we had the World in the palm of our hands and Friday Night was the night to Party.
In my town of Port Talbot, Friday Night was usually pay day, we didn't earn much, but a loaf of bread cost 9p and the average weekly wage was around £32. Today, a loaf costs 53p and weekly wages are about £475.
Property prices have also risen. In 1970, homebuyers could expect to pay £4,975 for a house. Today, their children would not get much change from £140,000.A glance at Britain's social life in 1970 is equally intriguing. A trip for two to the cinema cost less than 90p, compared with at least £9 today, while a bottle of plonk was about £1. Today it is £4.55. A bottle of whisky cost £2.69 back then, compared with £12 now.Pub prices, too, seem foreign. A pint of lager in your local was 20p, a far cry from today's average of £2.10. And cigarettes, which enjoyed a lot more popularity then, were 20p for 20. Today, the habit costs about £4.65 a pack.It was a similar story on the roads. The Range Rover, which was launched in 1970, could have been yours for £1,998. today a 4.4 litre Range Rover Vogue will set you back £57,700.The Mini, which celebrated its 11th birthday in 1970, cost around £600. Its redesigned descendant now sells for £10,500.
,But, it wasn't just about the cost of living, The World was not the peaceful place we all
think it was, the IRA were at the start of their bombing mainland Britain campaign,
Vietnam was tearing ahead, Headlines were all about the Vietcong and Agent Orange, Eva Peron became President of Argentina, Nixon had to resign thanks to Watergate. In the UK, the Miner's went on strike and the 3 day week became the norm along with piles of rubbish on our streets, electricity cut off and eventually, a coalition Government.
Meanwhile, in Port Talbot, we went to the Red Dragon pub, where the Men's Bar still existed, full of old men in flat caps, puffing roll up fags or woodbine, the dart board lived in this room and no women were allowed. The lounge bar saw the men all suited and booted and the women looking impossibly glamorous with their huge hair, immaculate nails and make up, kitten or stiletto heels and stockings
When I think back, I have this image of women sat on men's laps, not something you see too much now, but back then, there always seemed to be a table crowded with couples, ashtrays overflowing, the men with their pints and the women with their Babycham or Vodka and Lime, never a pint, the women nearly always sat on a man's lap. I have no explanation for it, it just was.
We of the Baby Boomer generation discovered weed, hash, dope, grass, oil whatever you want to call it, huge joints were the order of the day, it might not be yours, you might just get a toke of someone else's, but we dropped out, rolled up and Man it was good.
I know it was illegal, but, I have to say, I never once saw someone off their tits on a joint get lairy or angry, just mellow. It was great sitting around with our solitary drink that lasted all night, singing along to the juke box and getting stoned. We wore the smallest mini skirts, or the longest maxi dresses, we wore cheesecloth tops, loons, which were two pairs of trousers chopped up and joined at the knee, sometimes with an added side piece for that huge flares look. We either wore clogs, Jesus sandals (no socks), desert Boots, platforms or wedges, we had long. long hair, both the men and the women, we wore Afghan coats that stunk of wet dog, patchouli oil, that stunk of dead dog rotten over 3 months.
We had long, meaningful conversations about absolutely nothing, we played mouth organs, jews harps, banged a tambourine and we had the best of times. In the summer we either hitch hiked to pop festivals in Reading, Windsor or Knebworth, went braless, which we would never do in our home town, said words like hassle, cool and man and for the weekend we pretended we were at Woodstock.
In the summer we would hang around the fairground, or huge groups of us would just go to the beach, listen to Radio One on a Sunday night while drinking warm flagons of Strongbow. No one worried about the future, no one worried about careers, mortgages, we all lived with our parents and expected to until we got married. Life was fairly innocent, good fun and no one thought about cholesterol, fat content or sugar. We just lived for the moment and it was our moment. I am so glad I grew up then.
Music was, T Rex, Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Sweet, The Beatles, The Stones, Badfinger, ELO, Yes, The Doobie Brothers and Pink Floyd, Yes there were others, but in my world, these are the one's that say 1970's to me, well early 70's certainly.
We went to Wimpey's for burgers and weird hot dog like sausage that had been snipped to curl into a ring and an egg sat in the middle. We had milk shakes with ice cream, that no one has ever made better. We ate space dust, sweet tobacco, everlasting strips, cola cubes and could buy single cigarettes in most shops no matter how old we were.
The early 70's were, for me, the happiest time. I left when I was 17 to join the RAF, the world was beginning to change. Recession was on everyone's mind. The UK had to borrow from the European Monetary Fund and the Empire was in the decline. It was the first step into the Common Market and suddenly the innocence seemed to be going south, fast.
Enter the late 70's and the Skinheads, so, so different from the Hippies of the early 70's. A different mind set, different clothes, music and values. A bumpy ride lay ahead.