Thursday, February 07, 2008

If you can remember the sixties.....

I was called yesterday by somebody from the Daily Telegraph. He wanted to know if I'd ever undergone Transcendental Meditation. If so, could I write about it to mark the death of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?

I would guess he was about twenty-five and he'd been given the job of finding a suitable candidate within a couple of hours. Presumably they've got a list somewhere of people who were alive in the 60s and can type and he was working his way down it.

I blame "Absolutely Fabulous" and the Sunday supps for propagating the notion that in the 60s everybody had long hair, wore kaftans, smoked dope and meditated. On the contrary. These things were only done by the tiniest of tiny minorities of the population. The poor hack's chance of turning up somebody who'd actually practised TM™ was about the same as finding somebody who'd fought with Che Guevera.


  1. Well, of course you were far too young. And it's about time that someone said that The Sixties (TM) were only lived by about 200 trustafarians in Notting Hill. Not much demand for kaftans in Bolton.

  2. No more irritating than something I read today in which we were told people in 1981 were wearing Bay City Rollers t-shirts. They weren't.

    Each decade, it seems, gets boiled down to a handful of definitive images, with the interesting bits left out.

    Look what they've done to the Seventies already:

    Silver Jubilee

    So the Sixties is now:

    Carnaby Street (man trying on Edwardian jacket and woman in yellow hat in Biba particularly ubiquitous).

    The Eighties are already potted into:

    New Romantics
    Acid House

    And the Nineties?

    It's annoying me.

  3. It's amazing how many people also claim to have attended the 1966 World Cup final (that's the one we won, F-C - just in case you didn't know that....) when only a meagre 100,000 could fit into the Empire Stadium - and better still, the number of people (including Ken Clarke) who claimed to have had an influence on the linesman's decision to award England's third goal as he was "standing right behind him and shouted". The linesman only spoke Russian and Turkish...

    In the 1960s, 99.9% did nothing of "interest". They got up, went to work/school, came home, did family stuff, and went to bed.

  4. All of this is what happens when so many at the coal-face of the media were born in 1983, and can't be bothered to find out what happened in the forty-odd years before they were born. Do you get asked to do a lot of telly talking-head stuff, David?

  5. My friend Liz (born 1954) went on a course to learn TM run by a very nice man in Newcastle - I seem to think she was about 15 at the time so 1969 or so. She still practices it occasionally and says its very restful.I wanted to go but under 18s needed to have a form signed by their parents and I reckoned they wouldn't do it so didn't even ask. lessons wre free but it was suggested that you donated a days' wages - not a lot when you're 15.

  6. Anonymous10:23 pm

    I have to disagree with the comment above. I've never met anyone who has ever claimed to have been at the 1966 World Cup Final. I don't know of anyone in the media, apart from former players and journalists whom I know were there, who make this claim either.

  7. It happened well before "Absolutely Fabulous". It more likely came from American pop culture in the 1980s, which was full of movies and TV shows in which contemporary Reaganite yuppies were humourously pitted against the hippy-dippy previous generation.

  8. Anonymous10:47 am

    I listened to the 1966 World Cup Final on a train going from Minehead (Butlins - which was much more mainstream 60's then TM) back to Yorkshire. We lost the radio signal around Sheffield with England winning 2-1. When it reappeared we couldn't understand why the game seemed to be still going on. It took a while for reality to dawn - the Germans had equalised and this was extra time.

  9. By default though, this must mean any period pre 60s also gets compressed and short handed in the same way the 60s, 70s, and 80's do. Although, I've never questioned the received realism of that era as I wasn't part of it.

  10. Anonymous4:42 pm

    Some of the comments above remind me why I don't really like Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars. All style over substance. The cliched 80s-ness of the 1st episode of 'A to A' started to bug me within 15 mins; will be interesting to see how it unfolds. About 0.01% of the 'youth' were ever new romantics and even fewer in the summer of '81.

  11. You didn't fight with Che, David? Must have been Mark Ellen then, I suppose?


  12. It's true....very small cultural sub-group in those days. Mostly getting really stoned, man, in Ladbroke Grove. Barry Miles would be the chap to ask I think.