The 1970s

There is a discussion on twitter about what, if anything, was good about the 1970s, the era of my youth. It has made me think. In 1970, I was sixteen. I did a lot of hitchhiking, which was a good way to get around the country. I was picked up between Oxford and Swindon by a travelling salesman who said that he had a book in the back which would cause a revolution. It was The Female Eunuch. Of course, I remember the three-day week, sitting in rooms with only candles burning worrying about Northern Ireland and Ted Heath.

It has always seemed to me a bit problematic for periodisation that quite a lot of what one thinks of as the 1960s actually happened in the early 1970s: the Garden House riot took place on 13 February 1970. And quite a lot of what one thinks of as particular to the 1980s also happened in the 1970s – John Casey took over editing the Cambridge Review in 1975.

So, what was good ? Hitch-hiking was good; so were many, if not all, of the liberal freedoms; no student fees, definitely. Michael Baxandall published Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy in 1972. That was good. I’m afraid I think that the end of doctrinaire modernism and the rise of architectural conservation was good. The Spitalfields Trust was established in 1977. Small landmarks, but important.


4 thoughts on “The 1970s

  1. Leslie Hills says:

    I agree entirely about hitch-hiking and still occasionally resort to it in the Highlands and the Western Isles. But for me the most important feature of the 1970s was the passing of the Employment Protection Act in 1975 which guaranteed a women’s right to return to employment after pregnancy and to maternity pay. It revolutionised many women’s lives.

  2. Leslie Hills says:

    I hitch hike holding up my bus pass. In the far north and west it’s not unknown on remote roads. And still I’m told in alpine regions where a rope slung over the shoulder always guaranteed a lift.

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