Sunday, 22 April 2012

The 70s and other decades

Whilst myself and Mrs Jason were watching JTV tonight (a programme from 1989), a comment was made about measuring a pregnant woman's baby's heartbeat and Mrs J commented, "Oh I didn't know they could do that back then".

Now as you know, Mrs Jason is some 15 years younger than myself, a factor that rarely causes any issues, but to put it into context, in 1989 she was 4 years old and had not even started Primary School. I had finished my A Levels and was in my first full time job, as well as enjoying all the pursuits that a 19 year old could at that age - i.e. drinking and all the rest of it (yes, believe it or not I was not one of those saddoes who did not lose their virginity until they were 26).

The thing is - 1989 was not really that long ago for me, 23 years in fact. Which is actually the same amount of years for any of us, well it would be wouldn't it. It's only just over half my life ago. For Claire though, it's ancient history. Which is perhaps why she thought the technology to measure a baby's heartbeat did not exist back then.

It got me thinking back to when I was the age Claire is now, 27, it was 1997, and thinking back to 1974, trying to put myself into that same age gap, and it is true the world changed enormously during those years.

But then I think -did it? Let's go back another 27 years from 1974 to 1947, then we really are in the black and white era! In fact most things when I was 4 that were more than five years old were. That gap between black and white and colour more than anything defined history for me. So that when watching colour TV in 1974 and watching 10 year old crackly black and white footage of say, The Beatles, to me, it seemed like a bygone era. The 50s, which everyone used to bang on about as a golden era, well, seemed like another century to me.

Is it the same for people now? I would argue not. A teenager now looking at a 10 year old pop video won't see any discernible difference from one made today. Unlike me in say, 1984. That's my opinion. If some 18 year old wants to come on here and tell me I'm just some old git talking bollocks and that isn't true, I would be interested. In fact readers, those of you with teenage children, I say, ask them.

Technology advances, but not a lot else. I would argue in that single moment where the clock ticked over into 1970 and colour TV arrived, suddenly the world jumped 20 years into the future.

I've got boxsets of shows e.g, On The Buses which started in 1969. The first two series were in Black and White, the remainder in colour. Seriously the first series looks like it was made in about 1950, whereas the picture quality of the colour episodes is up to today's standards.

Same with Doctor Who - Patrick Troughton finished in 1969, suddenly it's January 1970 and Jon Pertweee is the Doctor and it's in full colour. The contrast could not be more different as these two shots show. No wonder they deleted so many of the old black and white episodes.

Doctor who in 1969

And in 1970 - what a difference a year and the colour makes!

And what abou those decades - the 70s and 80s - that we see featured so often in nostalgia shows. It's the same old cliches isn't it? The same old little bits of footage that are trotted out to represent the decades. All you need to know it seems is that the 70s was full of industrial unrest and in the 80s we had the rubik cube. That's about it. Same tired, old cliches. Oh it's the 80s - let's throw in a few bits about the following: rubik cube, falklands war, shoulder pads, yuppies, huge mobile phones (ha ha how funny). The sad thing is, younger viewers, i.e. anyone under the age of about 27 will only have this perception of the decade.

The obligatory rubik cube which  must be included in  any article or programme about the 80s

How sad - those decades were about so much more. And as for technology - wow - every new thing that came along seemed like the most amazing invention ever. It's not like today where everything is just a bigger and better version of what's gone before. 3DTV - yes - but it's still TV. iPhone - yes, but it's just a more sophisticated phone than the last one that came out. In the 70s and 80s it was all new.

Forget the media predictability - here's a few of my own memories. I remember in about 1975, seeing my first ever digital watch. It was this bloke, Bruce who lodged in the house opposite and flew model aeroplanes and had all sorts of gadgets. He had an LED digital watch. All it told you was the hour. But the excitement! I can remember me and several other boys hanging around him as the hour approached so we could see this thing change over from 2 to 3. It was amazing!!!

Pocket calculators! Unbelievable! You could cheat at maths! Home computers - ZX81, ZX Spectrum - computer games at home. Casio watches, kids with mobile ringtones annoying the teachers these days don't know they are born. In our day it was the hourly chime!

I had one very like this.

It all seemed so exciting, and the world truly did change, so quickly. Now? Well I don't think it does. Seriously look back 12 years to the year 2000. The world then looked extremely similar to how it does now. Has anything really changed? We had the internet and mobile phones then, they've just got smarter. Then I think about the 12 years between say 1968 and 1980 and all that happened in those years (I didn't even mention music but there's another example).

How can I sum it up - well, Sandi Thom did it so better than me, "I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair".

I think I have been very lucky to have been born when I was and lived during the technological era, young enough to embrace it, but old enough to keep my links with the past.

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Signing off for tonight

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