It was half a century ago and yet the memories of The Sixties seem as fresh as ever. This group is all about recalling key moments – people, events, music – and sharing memories. Every month we agree on the next topic. The dilemma – and it’s a nice one – will be who or what or when or where to choose? The 1960s is such a rich and vibrant time to recall and relish, a time when Britannia was cool and London was swinging, when the world was colourful and positive and, for young people especially, anything seemed possible. The old rules and conventions were there to be challenged. They say “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t really there”. We say “Nonsense” and the course is already proving it!
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Hold the front page!
A presentation by a guest speaker on the ever-changing role of the press and of journalists from the 1960s until now, followed by a Q&A.
1968: The year that changed history. Part 2
The format of the July meeting was different from previously: this time, four group members gave presentations on topics that resonated with them from the period.
Firstly, Andy talked about Race and Immigration in the 1960s, examining the key legislation from the British Nationality Act (1948) up to the Equality Act of 2010. We considered the issues raised and a lively discussion ensued.
Next came Nicci who talked about the Grosvenor Square Riots. Her approach was refreshingly different: she read verbatim reports of those there to capture to the passion and hostility. It echoed Jackie’s reading of her cousin’s recollections from time in Paris in 1968 that she read last month. Nicci laid to rest the idea that it was Stephen Hawking marching alongside Tariq Ali and Vanessa Redgrave in one of the much-published photos from the demo in that brief time of history!
Carl, after his monthly meeting talk that morning, focussed in the afternoon on Vietnam and presented the background and the aftermath of the Tet Offensive, a pivotal moment of the war that took place in early 1968.
Finally, John talked knowledgably about the fluctuating fortunes of the Labour party in the 1960s and the meeting was rounded off with a 1968 themed quiz, the prize for which was a bulging bag of pear drops, described by one group member as “not just redolent of the Sixties, but a veritable time machine, transporting the lucky winner back to that age warmed by the white heat of the technological revolution”.
1968: The year that changed history. Part 1
This, the third monthly meeting of the group, was again a well-attended gathering, to which we welcomed two new members, Tammy and Charles.
We started with Jacki Reason reading us an account from Jenny, her cousin, of her time as a young university exchange student in Paris in 1968. It was powerful and compelling, bringing to life, fifty years on, her fear and curiosity of living in, and through, historic times.
John Hinshelwood then led a session on “May 1968: Precursors, Events and Legacy”. This was a sparkling and enjoyable discussion, in which key events were recalled and we recognised the convenient temptation to say that the reasons behind them all, around the world, were somehow linked, whereas perhaps what they really had in common was the unprecedented willingness of the people to take on the “Powers That Be” and challenge the status quo.
We finished with a “Name the Face” picture quiz. The prize, a nostalgic mouth-watering tube of “Giant Parma Violets”, was shared among the group … it was that kind of day!
Food for thought
“Food and drink in the 1960s” was the theme for our second group meeting on 10th May. Roslyn’s introductory overview was followed by members enthusiastically recalling and discussing aspects ranging from home cooking and family meals, the impact of fridges and freezers, eating out, package holidays’ new exotic tastes, the abolition of RPM and the growth of supermarkets, the decline of door-step deliveries, shopping locally, new products from around the world and convenience foods. No longer did shopping have to be done daily nor everything cooked from scratch. Recipes in magazines, newspapers and books were introducing new and exciting dishes.
Who, even now, can look at the photo of Chicken with Rice (above) and not feel a shudder of excitement?!
A journey into the known
The first group meeting was on Thursday 12th April at the Union Church. There was a splendid turn-out, fifteen of us sitting round a large table upon which were displayed treasured memorabilia from the 1960s brought by the group members as requested. The display included records and concert programmes, autograph books and photos, menus, a Biba dress and two splendid ties. The conversation was animated and informative. We had all been there in the 60s but our personal recollections varied widely and richly.