Posted by Ian
Earlier this week we ran an article comparing 1973 with today, speculating on the significance of how Life on Mars had apparently performed such a rehabilitation on a period previously held in near-universal mockery.
An accompanying debate on the MSN message board asked for your views. And it seems that we, as a nation, have fallen headlong in love with the era of blackouts, flowery cravats and telephone exchanges. Out of the 227 messages posted, a massive 135 of them (over 50%) came out in support of 1973, while just 16 nominated 2007.
Wyncee wrote: "Most definitely 1973. People were much nicer and less violent towards each other; it was safe on the streets for children and the elderly; no binge drinking culture; not much I-want-must-have-it attitude; still a decent education and NHS system; less crowded roads; efficient and cheap public transport." Sugsy argued: "Give me 1973 values any day. The technology we have today was supposed to make life easier for everyone; instead it grew and grew and crowded out all the things that made life worth living."
Pewack added: "1973 any day! Those were the times: great cars, the league wasn’t bought by foreigners and the world was a bit more friendly." While Rava insisted, "Nowadays, the world is a bad place. A warming climate, crime on the increase, ‘gang war’ threatening the capital. Everything was so much safer in the 70s, so much simpler. Although we have better communications nowadays and better resources we live in a depressing world. Religion is all but gone, poverty has not changed. Back then the air was cleaner, no ‘Gas Guzzlers’. Obesity was little and few because people didn’t have their computers and didn’t laze indoors. Raping was a little fear to women. Good cars, Good music, Good life. This world has gone downhill, 2007 is rubbish. BRING BACK 1973 I SAY."
Ellesar, on the other hand, argued: "Clearly a lot of men are hankering after the days when you could behave like Roy Chubby Brown towards women and we just had to put up or shut up. In that respect I prefer now, but London was definitely a safer place then." A poster called Staying Neutral titled their post SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS: "I’d like the figure I had then, but with the confidence I have now. I’d like the job I had then, but with the salary it pays now. I’d like the energy I had then, but with the free time I have now."
Pathos took issue with my sharing an anecdote from my mum and dad about queueing for a loaf of bread. "Obviously your parents were living in a different country than me at the time. Yes there was an oil shortage due to a Middle East embargo on oil supplies. Everyone was forced to drive at 50 miles an hour, but at no time did I have to queue for a loaf of bread or any other food for that matter. There was always food available; as for power cuts, now and again but not as you would have us all believe every damn day. Perhaps one should research the era before making such a scathing comment on how bad it was. Hearsay never did work."
Well, I double checked with my mum just last night, and the entire story is true. Hearsay is no substitute for facts, but it provides substance and depth to otherwise cold analysis.
There were dozens and dozens more comments, for which many thanks, but I think this post from Sprightly evocatively sums up the whole debate:
"Bought first house in 73, £3,800 and £30 a month mortgage. This was 25% of monthly salary which was the max you could borrow by law. Not like today for all you youngsters trying to buy a house where banks have increased the amount you can borrow, so prices have rocketed; more profit for them and more impoverishment for you!
"My wife and I used to sit down round the table with our 5 kids for the evening meal. The kids were even taught table manners and we certainly didn’t sit on the settee to eat watching TV. There were only three stations: BBC, ITV and BBC 2 with 625 lines; colour had just started on BBC2. The cost of a 26 inch colour set: £312!
"My car at the time was a Ford Anglia; it was 12 years, old, pretty rotten but we still drove over 200 miles to Pontins holiday camp – all of plus grandma making seven in all in a poxy little clapped out car. And when the shock absorber broke I couldn’t afford a new one so I went to nearest scrap yard for a replacement.
"I am now retired, have two flash cars, a nice house and grandchildren, but I’m not sure if the youngsters today are going to have the chances of a good disciplined education and the chance to progress that people of our age had. And what is all this drinking about? Is it a reflection on the young today or is it more the fault of the time we live in?
"Oh, that we could wind the clock back to 1973 and take on board some of the old fashioned values of the time."