1973 v 2007: the winner is…

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."
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17 Responses to 1973 v 2007: the winner is…

  1. Black says:

    Yes and in the 70\’s there was more racism in England, remember the National Front, the Skin heads and how black footballers use to get booed every time they touched the ball, or got monkey chants.
    Britain is a far more tolerant place. 

  2. jfox61 says:

    whats that focus, you mean it doesn\’t happen now and that we have no skinheads and no racist chants. Nearly every day you hear of a racist stabbing somewhere in the country. I was a teenager in the 70\’s and the worst racism in general were the chants and verbal abuse. Whilst still not acceptable it was nowhere near as violent as it is now. Although society is now more tolerant in general, it is the racists who are more extreme. Football hooliganism was not racist it was one teams fans against another. That is one place that it has to be said is better now

  3. Unknown says:

    Why only go back to 1973?  Soz, but can\’t remember anything spectacular about that date.  Except that, since it was part of the early 70\’s, it still had the influence of the late 60\’s, and we all know what that decade meant.  The seventies were all part of the downward spiral that has resulted in the now.  NOW meaning music without a lot of creativity, entertainment without a whole lot of thought or imagination, politics that are more corrupt and corporate than ever.  Yeah.  And the sixties generation was supposed to be the ones we could look to for enlightenment and freedom from cold-blooded values.   And what do we get?  George W. Bush.  Well Hey.  If he was part of the sixties movement, then he was either a nerd or some kind of wanabe as a teenager.  The kind of guy pulling strings, sitting back, basking in power while letting his even more nerdy friends do the thinking.  Not knowing (or caring) that his nerdy friends, when they grew up, would be just as blood-thirsty and ruthless as the killer of the innocent in virginia.  And now he\’s got the audacity to say he\’s so sad.  How about sad for the hundreds of thousands of people dying in Iraq–who would still be alive were it not for his and his nerdy nasty vice president\’s manipulations?  yeah.  2007 is the worst.  But it started way before that. (and probably before 1973) What year was it when people started giving away their freedom?  Ahhh.  What year was it when we started getting apathetic, cynical and lethargic?  Letting the media dictate to us what we should read and how we should believe?

  4. andy says:

    I was around at the time in the north of england and I did enjoy life as a 13 yo at the time. As for cleaner air that\’s a bit of a joke as up here we used to have smog so thick you could hardly see 10 feet, mind you I used to like the smell of coal fires, regardless of what they did to my health or the lakes of Norway. No food shortages that I remember only money shortages and a shortage of out of season veggies. As for the violence etc I believe it was all around then but it was all hushed up in the same way as unwanted pregnancies etc. There were place I wouldn\’t go then and they may be gone but new one\’s have taken their place. Manners were beaten into me and even now it is instinctive to hold the door open for a lady even though I use the term lightly. Media has raised our awareness and our expectations and I believe that is the source of fear and what used to be called keeping up with the Jones\’s.
    Its just that the Jones no longer live next door but are on the tv.

  5. Tony says:

    Wasn\’t 1973 the time of the endless union strikes, regular power cuts, OPEC countries hiking oil prices and incredibly high inflation culminating the the infamous three day week where businesses could only open for three days to save power, not forgeting IRA bombings in London, the Yom Kippur War, Watergate etc – Give me 2007 anytime.

  6. steve says:

    I totally agree with Focus9314 but Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973 so for me there is no choice!

  7. Bob says:

    Nostalgia is SO selective, isn\’t it? Yes, there were many good things about 1973 compared to 2007. House prices were much lower. You were less likely to be burgled or robbed or have your car stolen. Fewer marriages ended in divorce and far more children had both parents living at home (the "nuclear" family). Speaking of "nuclear" reminds me of some of the negatives about 1973 compared to 2007. How can people (old enough) forget that 1973 was part of the "Cold War" era. We lived with the daily threat of a Third World War between the US and the USSR with nuclear devestation for the entire planet. Al-Qaeda may be quite scary but it is nothing in comparison to the "3 minute warning" that existed in 1973. Yes, in 2007 we have the tragedy of war in Iraq but in 1973 there was the tragedy of war in Vietnam.
    The UK in 2007 still has problems with racial intolerance but 1973 was far from a golden era that can be looked at with any sense of pride. We had far more industrial strife in 1973 than in 2007. Rose-tinted spectacles seem to be essential for people looking back to days gone by. We seem to think that winters were crisper, summer\’s more sunny and people more friendly and your local neighbourhood bobby on the beat knew all the local villains and dealt with young ruffians by giving them a clip round the ear. Well, 1973 was the driest year of the 20th century in the UK. We haven\’t had a drier year since. Strangely though, July 1973 was extremely wet. The UK winters of 1972-3 and 1973-4 were quite mild and not very snowy. How does that sound compared to life in 2007?
    Were people more friendly in 1973? Perhaps. Maybe that had more to do with the fact that people in 1973 tended to live in one place for many years, so got to know their neighbours, while in 2007 so many people move house (or flat) so regularly that no-one seems to know anybody else (certainly in the big cities). Life is a quicker pace in 2007 and that doesn\’t help people to be friendly, nor does traffic congestion and more crowded public transport than in 1973.
    The police? Everyone seems to have forgotten the police corruption scandals from the 1970s and complaints of police brutality and dishonesty that led to a complete overhaul of the law and of police procedures. In 1973, if you went to a police station to make a complaint about a police officer, there was every chance that you might be "hauled across the desk," then "given a good kicking" and dragged into a cell. There would be no CCTV to record the incident, no entitlement to free and independent legal advice and no phone call to a friend. Police might then write your "confession" on your behalf and tell you to sign it, if you wanted to be released anytime soon. Fancy swapping that for 2007?
    How many of us would care to live without our I-Pods, mobile phones, faxes, lap-tops, e-mail, Gameboys, X-boxes and PS2s? NONE of these existed in 1973. You had one fixed line phone at home. That was it as far as communication went, unless you were one of those strange people (radio hams) who had several large aerial masts in their back garden and spent hours each night, sitting in their back rooms speaking to similarly strange people across the globe. 1973 meant just 3 TV channels in the UK, nothing more. No SKY, no Freeview, no Channel 4,5 or cable. Nothing else except 4 BBC national radio stations plus a scattering of local BBC and commercial radio stations.
    1973? It cost a small fortune to ring someone abroad, if the phone-call actually connected that is. In 1973 colour TVs cost an arm and a leg compared to 2007. That was why so many people in the UK used to rent their TVs. In 1973 it was a big thing for someone to fly on holiday to Spain. In 2007 we routinely jet off to all corners of the planet at the drop of a hat. Is that a good or a bad thing? Well, it probably would be better for the environment if we didn\’t all jet off as much as we do but now the genie is out of the bottle and it isn\’t such a simple thing to tell people that they can\’t go wherever they want.
    One earlier contributor said something about "Nearly every day you hear of a racist stabbing somewhere in the country.\’" Perhaps you do but remember that in 1973 we didn\’t hear about a lot of things because we didn\’t have 24hour, wall-to-wall media coverage like we do in 2007. There are so many more news channels, radio stations, websites and newspapers in 2007  compared to 1973, all wanting material to publish or broadcast. Stories that wouldn\’t be heard in 1973 are lapped up by the media of 2007. Just because you didn\’t hear about certain things in 1973 doesn\’t mean that they weren\’t happening.
    Oh yes, one final point to mention. In 2007 we can buy pretty much anything on-line or via telephone shopping. We can bank on-line, gamble on-line, chat and flirt on-line, even sell our house on-line, 24hrs a day, any day. If you want to buy some milk or bread or cheese or baked beans there\’s probably a shop or supermarket nearby (in the cities and big towns at least) where you can go any day of the week at any time of the day or night. 1973 wasn\’t quite as consumer-friendly. I remember 1973 had rigid 9 to 5 shopping, with half-day closing in my area on a Wednesday and EVERYTHING closed on a Sunday, except the church, the pub (open midday to 2.30pm and 7pm til 10.30pm on Sundays) and the newsagents (open in the morning just long enough for them to deliver the Sunday papers). Imagine that in 2007. Not a chance.
    There are wars every year. There always have been and probably always will be. Ask a Chilean what it was like in 1973 when General Pinochet and his army came to power and thousands of people were shot, tortured or simply "disappeared". In 2007 Chile has a democracy. Not perfect but still a great improvement on 1973. Spain, Portugal and Greece were military dictatorships in 1973. I\’m not sure their citizens would swap 2007 for a repeat dose of miltarism and repression.
    1973 or 2007? Well, I know where I stand. I want my feet firmly planted in the present. It\’s far from perfect but it\’s real. Wistful dreaming about times past (real or imagined) – I leave that for the TV to attempt. Sorry to some of you out there but I vote for 2007 over 1973. Now, where\’s my I-Pod?

  8. LUKE says:

    Yes things are maybe not as good now as say the 50s 60s and 70s, but its the people who were born in those days that have messed it all up, there the ones in charge and making all the decisions, it may have been a better time for you so why have you messed it up for everyone else now.

  9. martin says:

    1973 was brillient, if you were a skool kid, the music, three day weeks meant skool was shut, there was no rascism were i lived as there were no blacks, etc but when the \’last king of scotland\’ kicked out all the asians it was really good, a new culture, new friends, new experiances. I could ride in the The Ol\’ Man\’s lorry in the Skool hols. Lots of little jobs, paper rounds, etc.
    Not like now, can\’t do this… can\’t do that… always some power hungery B stopping your fun…
    yep, 1973 where are u now…..

  10. Bob says:

    What an interesting comment that is (from Anon @ 1345) : "There was no racism where I lived as there were no blacks etc…." Does the author mean that racism requires the presence of black people? Were the (presumably white) residents perfectly tolerant, fair-minded and open before the black people arrived? Sounds like his/her solution to racism might simply be to "send \’em home." Perhaps the power cuts of 1973 meant s/he missed out on a little too much schooling.

  11. Neil says:

    bobgizmo, I think you have a case of selective reading. If you read "anon\’s" next line you would see that he talks about enjoying the new cultures when the refugees of Uganda arrived. So, i think you should apologise to \’anon\’ for slating this person and brandishing him as an ignorant racist.

  12. CLAIRE says:

    1973 is by far the better year as it was the one I was born!!!

  13. Natalie says:

    Ok i was born in 1973  I have very vivid memories of the 70\’s.  Coal fires and milk on your doorstep. no kids TV until tea time. Over crowded public transport and smoking on the top deck of a bus. The cane/ruler at school and racism (i.m mixed race).  Power cuts and the bin men strikes.  Irish owning all the corner shops before the asians did. Tizwas, Saphire and Steel, The Professionals.  Suzy, Bunty and Jackie magazines.  Hand me down clothes and ugly clarks shoes.  Day trips to skegness, chatsworth house and twycross zoo.  Getting mumps because there was no vaccine and it was horrible.  Lots of stray dogs and cats.  people knicking all your good cliothes off the washing line.  No central heating, double glazing, or telephone.  Outside loo and a twin tub washing machine.  Nit nurses and hair lotion that made your eyes water.  Diana Ross, The Doors and the beatles.  Long summers and very long winters with real snow.  Life was slower and life was hard work.  I\’m glad i am rasiing my kids in 2007 with a better standard of living and really appreciate all the hardships my mum faced bringing us up.

  14. Paul says:

    I was 8 in 1973, and though I can remember a lot of things from that time I was too young to appreciate the social, political and economic aspects. Though there were fewer single parent familes then, my Mother and I were one. There was not the automatic allocation of housing for young mothers, my mother and myself shared a bedroom with my aunty at my grandmothers house. She had two jobs, the perverse concept working being less lucrative than benefits was unheard of. In my family there was an ethos of work and no expectation of the State or anyone else providing an easy ride. To me, colour televisions (I first saw a colour TV in 1973 watching the Leeds-Sunderland FA Cup final), cars, foreign holidays, and telephones were the preserve of reasonably wealthy familes. Anyone on social security can now afford these items.
    If I ever misbehaved at home, school or in the street I could expect the full wrath of my Mother. This would consist of a beating and grounding. Parents today seem to accept that their children misbehave and accept it because all the other children do.
    Today the majority of people are materially better off and this fact is hard to argue against. However, three decades of inflation of the welfare state have distorted family life and led to the explosion of antisocial behaviour and an abdication of all responsibility. Has the price been worth it?

  15. Unknown says:

    oh how easy people forget.you were great britain then now you are just english.the stuff  that made you great (the people) have been victimised,excuse my spelling schools are crapo now too,now they are scared to have an opinion in case they are called racist.its not racist to protect your country i dont consider myself racist but as a scott i dont want immigrants up here keep em down south where you suckers just accept it.

  16. Donald says:

    I came across this obituary of the word common sense which i associated with the 1970\’s, I hope you like it.
    Obituary of The Late Common Sense
    Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old dear friend,
    Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.
    No one knows for sure how old he was, since his Birth Records
    were lond ago lost in the Bureaucratic Red Tape.
    He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons
    as:Knowing when to come in out of the rain:why the early bird gets the worm:
    Life isn\’t always fair:and maybe it was my fault.
    Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies
    (don\’t spend more than you earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not
    children are in charge).
    His Health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but
    overbearing regulations were set in place. reports of a 6 year old boy
    charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate: teens suspended
    from school for using mouthwash after lunch:and a teacher fired for reprimanding
    an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
    Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job
    they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even
    further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin,
    sun tan lotion, or a band aid to a student: but could not inform parents when a student
    became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
    Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband:
    Churches became businesses: and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
    Common Sense then took a beating when you couldn\’t defend yourself from a burglar
    in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common Sense finally
    gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee
    was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
    Common Sense was preceded in Death by his parent, Truth and Trust; his wife Discretion;
    his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
    He is survived by his 3 step brothers; I Know My Rights; Someone Else Is To Blame;
    and I\’am a Victim.
    Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone. If you still remember
    him, pass this messageon, If not join the majority and Do Asolutely Nothing.
    So all the people whom think today is better good luck, you will probably need it unless you have common sense!

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