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.