Blaise Tapp writes: The mere mention of the 1970s sends shivers down the spines of those with long enough memories, and with some good reason too because that was the decade of the three-day week, blackouts, rampant racism and discrimination, droopy moustaches and avocado bathroom suites.
The BBC’s classic Life on Mars series saw its principal character sent back to the 70s, which introduced younger generations to the darkest aspects of an era that many wish to forget, although not everybody. Lest we forget that this was a time that introduced us to Star Wars, Jaws, David Bowie, ABBA and children’s TV classics such as the Magic Roundabout.
While there were many challenges with the decade that gave us kipper ties and Love Boat, it is perhaps a little unfair to consign all of it to some sort of giant nostalgia dustbin, or, in keeping with the time, a floral pedal bin.
We all have our favourite decade, don’t we? Older Baby Boomers will tell anybody within boring distance that if you remember the 60s then you weren’t there but whenever I see black and white footage from 50 odd years ago, very few people are smiling and all the lads are sporting haircuts that looked like their mums had done it over the Belfast sink. But, if you were there during that seismic cultural shift, then I suppose you are going to bang on about it. Endlessly.
It was over a dopiaza and a few beers the other night that I entered a debate about the ‘best’ decade and I repeated my firmly held belief that the 1990s and all their baggy swagger easily outdo Thatcher’s cruelly brash 80s. ‘You would say that, wouldn’t you?’ came the totally reasonable reply because, as this curry house sage pointed out, that was when I entered my teens, explored the world and discovered music that has shaped my life to this very day.
It was also at that time I met Mrs Tapp, who surely must be in the line for some sort of long service medal. I often have to be reminded that the 90s weren’t 10 years ago and that cultural references such as ‘mad fer it’ are completely lost on the kids of today.
My argument for it being the best decade is that it heralded real change – communism, pretty much, completely fell away, Nelson Mandela brought hope to Africa and the rest of the world and the internet rocked up and turned everything on its head.
Readers of this newspaper love old, or not so old, pictures of folk enjoying nights out in long-since defunct nightclubs. Even if you weren’t around at the time, getting an insight into the truly atrocious fashions almost always guarantees a chuckle.
Bright, enthusiastic folk with letters after their name and their own YouTube channel will tell you that looking ahead to the future is where your focus should be and that looking backwards is unproductive, but we know the value of reflecting on the past and learning from successes and failures.
Yes, things are a bit rubbish right now, and we’ve no idea whether scribes of the future will describe this period as the Terrible Twenties, but rather like the 70s there will be plenty of happy memories to cherish and tales to bore future generations with.