In 1967 I turned 20 years old and after a Summer on the buses I was down at Portsmouth Polytechnic doing my degree course.
The World was wonderful.
England had won the World Cup and their Manager knighted (nowadays he’d have got a peerage).
The Mersey Beat was everywhere. It seemed that anyone, who had a guitar was cutting No.1 records, even those who couldn’t play them (Graham Nash?). The Beatles were getting hippy and California was moving into “The Summer of Love” with Americans protesting their Government’s Colonialist war in Viet Nam.
Revolution was in the air, with some serious clashes with massed police in London. We hadn’t been widely aware of much of the Civil Rights movement in the USA, mainly because we had little real public contact with America. Telephone calls to the USA cost huge sums and radio was crackly.
This was the year of the first live global television link by satellite when 400 million people saw and heard the Beatles play “All you need is love”.
It wasn’t until the following year at the Olympics and the Black Power Salute, that we fully realised how much hotter it was in the USA.
Meantime UK was about to become rich, because the The first North Sea oil was being pumped ashore. It never occurred to us that politicians would find means to squander the new found wealth, e.g. the launch of the first Polaris Submarine.
(That was one nasty little political ploy, where we gave away our own successful rocket (Blue Streak, thereafter the Ariane) as a bribe to the French to let us join the Common Market. It didn’t work Charles de Gaulle vetoed British entry.
Parliament decriminalised male homosexuality with the Sexual Offences Act.
The British steel industry was nationalised
The Abortion Act, passed in Parliament, legalising abortion on a number of grounds (with effect from 1968).
Lots of other things happened in that year such as first broadcast of colour TV, opening Milton Keynes, first conviction under the Race Relations Act 1965.
By the time I was in my thirties, being absorbed into mainstream working life, my generation had undergone Social changes, normalising homosexuality and recognising a need for racial co-existence. The Dagenham girls had forced the equal pay act into draught. We were engaging in an economic alliance with our near neighbours (although I had, for one, had voted against it). We had North Sea Gas and Oil coming ashore in sufficient quantities to enable us to pay off our debts, fully fund our State pensions, build new hospitals etc.
It’s not the generation now deriding mine as being racist and homophobic, who created the world that they see around them. It’s my generation and those who remembered rationing and the aftermath of WWII, who created their world.
The world that the next generation will be living in is the one created by Thatcher’s children. The one where State Assets were destroyed to sell them into private hands, where income was frittered away on grandstanding displays such as the Eurotunnel and other E.U. projects. Where PFI’s, banking deregulation, creeping privatisation of State Assets was destroying The Welfare State built by my parents’ generation.
Next time some snotty stand-up comedian sneers at our homophobic, sexist and racist generation, just remind them that we were the generation who put a stop to it, while we were busy wiping their bums and teaching them to love one another.