Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Losing the 1960s

Cilla Black in a mod dress
Cilla!
 For the first time in my life, I feel as though I'm watching a decade disappear, as though links to that time are disappearing before my eyes. I never felt that way about the 1940s and 1950s – I guess to a child's eyes, those things were 'old'. But the 1960s was my mum's decade. The 1960s weren't 'old'. Okay, as youngster in the 1980s they seemed horribly fuddy-duddy, but they were dated, they weren't actually old.

I always said I didn't like the 1960s. That's not strictly true, though I do think I wanted to be different from my parents, wanted something of my own, like all kids do. Mum had a whale of a time in the 1960s, despite living in rural Norfolk. Over the other side of the country, Mr Robot's mum was doing her nursing training in Liverpool and she actually hung out at all the hotspots. Yes, even the Cavern. For all we knew – she never paid enough attention to such things to remember – she'd handed her coat into Cilla, who worked the hat check there. The last time we got the pair of them together, our mums brought up the Stones-versus-Beatles debate as though the previous fifty years hadn't happened. The 1960s was so emphatically my mum's decade that I could never have a claim on it.

Despite that, there were things about those years that I loved. I got a love of The Rolling Stones and The Kinks from my mum, and when I went to university I took my own 60s mixtape made up of songs I'd liked from her Readers Digest compilation LPs. (Mixtapes from LPs... I'm halfway to being vintage myself!) I can't remember all the songs, but it included 'Terry' by Twinkle, 'She's Not There' by the Zombies, and 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' by Procul Harum. Then there was The Avengers, Bond films, spy films, Hammer horrors and even – yes, I admit it! - some of the Carry On films. Since I started blogging, Miss Peelpants has really shown me how beautiful high-end 1960s fashion can be, and Vix and Curtise have shown me how wearable lots of it still is. The 1960s was an explosion of options, of all sorts of youth cultures and radical changes in art, of political movements and fashion trends, and even if the whole decade isn't for you, there will be something there to love. I love the 1960s jazz age revival (we're further from them than they were from the 1920s!).

2015 started badly, when my mother-in-law passed away in February. I won't fib and say it's been easy; it's been many times worse for Mr Robot, but there hasn't been a single day when I haven't found myself contemplating the unfillable hole in our lives. And since then, several of the decade's real icons have passed away, including Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee, two of my favourites. Perhaps the tone of 2015 was set early for me, and it's going to be a year when all the celebrity losses mean so much because they're coming on top of one big personal one, but I got a bit upset at the news that Cilla Black had died. My mum thought Cilla was great – she's even got an LP, 'Cilla Sings A Rainbow'. (I hated that one!) The faces, the voices, the actual memories of the decade are going, and I can't get my head around it. Losses to accident and misadventure (Hendrix, Joplin, Jones) are one thing, but to plain old age? 'How can the living part of the 1960s be going? The 1960s aren't old!' my head says. And it makes me feel really rather sad.

Cilla Black in hotpants
Nice pins, Cilla
That decade is always the vintage hurdle, the place where so many people draw the line about what is, or isn't vintage. I think the reason the 1960s are a tipping point for so many people is because they did lead to a massive change in life in the west. Here in the UK there were campaigns for equal rights for women – the female workers for Ford going on strike is a standout example. There was the introduction of the contraceptive pill, allowing women to control their fertility and thus their futures. In the US there was the rise of the civil rights movement. There were hippies. There was Vietnam. There was that explosion of options I mentioned earlier, something that we still enjoy. I think that's why the 1960s feel comparatively modern rather than 'vintage', because they led to the sort of society we live in today. The icons of the decade may be leaving us, but the most important aspects of the time, the social change, is something we still benefit from. Perhaps I shouldn't be so sad.

So, on a cheery note, do you have a favourite 'thing' – song, film, outfit, whatever – from the 1960s? I think my favourite 1960s outfit that I own has to be my Evans Tweensize dress. And next time I go back to Norfolk, I'm going to try to get some photos of my mum from back then. I don't own any, and I really want some for my collection.

20 comments :

  1. My favourite 60's band is The Zombies, I adore them. I used to love the music and have quite a bit as well as some sixties clothing and bags. I also absolutely love the contemporary films of this decade, the ones made purely as a vehicle for popular music acts of the day and have quite a few, my favourite I think is Privilege x

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    1. I only know 'She's Not There'. Is that typical of their stuff? We've probably got more Zombies amid all the CDs we inherited from Pete's mum, I should investigate.

      The only films like that that I've seen are Beatles ones. Again, I should do some investigating!

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    2. It is pretty typical, yes. You might know Time of the Season and they covered Summertime too. Colin Blunstone has a swoonworthy breathy voice which makes me quite weak at the knees!

      I wouldn't say many of those films were brimming with substance, they are what they are, vehicles for pop stars, as the target audience didn't give a hoot about plotlines, but they're good fun xx

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  2. We didn't get all the "Peace and Love" of the 60's in Chicago-we had riots, and police beating the crap out of people. And more riots.

    I do like the 60's vintage quite a bit, though the early decade Jackie Kennedy- type suits were never my thing. Give me a psychedelic maxi, and I'm in my element. I have my treasured record collection that we're going to undertake transferring to digital soon-there's a whole hell of a lot of Airplane in there. A WHOLE HELL of a lot. It amazes me just looking at it.

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    1. Chicago must have been a frightening and exciting place to have been.

      What does Danny make of the record collection?

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    2. He liked the Moody Blues, so he was happy enough to get those albums.

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  3. Cilla's passing hit me quite hard and I had a real genuine cry when I found out. I'm even tearing up now as I write this. It seems so silly. I didn't know her, she wasn't a friend or a member of my family, yet I'm mourning her loss. She was always a big part of our household growing up. My parents loved her music and passed that love on to me. It feels like I've lost a part of my childhood, so perhaps that's what I'm mourning.

    Anyway, on a happier note, my favourite 1960s thing is the emerald green suede coat my mum had made for her in the late 60s. When I was a teenager she passed it on to me and I have worn it constantly ever since. I'm just so proud of it as it's so typical of that era and I'm always getting offers for it whenever I wear to vintage events.

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    1. That coat sounds awesome. Never sell it!

      It's weird what a big part of everyone's life Cilla was. It surprised my husband as he never watched Saturday evening telly, but I think for our parents' generation they remembered her in her swinging youth, and ours remembers her from Surprise Surprise and Blind Date; she was 'in' most people's homes regularly in the 1980s. And she was so nice, no-one ever has a bad word to say about her, so those happy childhood times have never been tainted in retrospect.

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  4. I've got some gorgeous handbags from the 60s.

    I only really remember Cilla from the telly in the 80s my Mum loved 'Anyone who had a heart' but otherwise couldn't stand Cilla's voice!

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    1. I couldn't abide Cilla's voice. The main thing I remember from her 80s career was her boxy suits; it's only in later years that I've realised she continued to wear a version of 60s styles even then.

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  5. I love the sixties, my mom was a hippie (of sorts) but my tastes definitely would have/do run toward the more mod, more carnaby street '60's. It all still seems just so hip to me. :)

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    1. It was definitely a diverse decade - there seemed to be a real fractioning of styles then. There was a bit of that in the 1950s, but the 60s made it so much more common. Probably another thing that makes the decade feel so much more modern than the preceeding one.

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  6. I love the 60's. I love psychedelic, garage punk, Jim, Jimi, Janis and the fashion is really my utmost favourite. I had a huge wardrobe of 60's clothes when I was younger (and thinner) and always went to school with my kohl-rimmed "doe eyes". My favourite outfit was my Mum's old russet suede waistcoat that was very fitted through the torso and flared out at the skirt. It was just too short to wear on it's own so I used to wear it with a black mini underneath and a polo neck. I used to think that I was very beatnik and cool. I also have a great suit that I bought for 40p at a jumble sale. It is a green suede fitted jacket with a matching A-line mini-skirt. It has the hugest Mongolian lamb style collar and cuffs and I thought that I looked fabulous in it. I still have even though I can no longer get it on. Some day.......... :) Xx

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    1. Wow, that suit sounds fantastic. (40p? *cries with envy*)

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  7. I know what you mean, I was born towards the end of them and as a very rural community it was way behind even that then, so I feel I have lost a whole lot of eras. I find myself looking round me and thinking where the hell am I, and I don't like what I see. It's like, ugh, everywhere's turned in to some crazy dystopia!

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    1. I like the freedom of now, though these days can be quite chaotic. I miss the way there were definite styles in the past, even as I enjoy the freedom to wear whatever I like!

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  8. What an insightful, touching post. I fully understand where you're coming from and have felt the same way about not only the sixties, but the 70s - 90s at times as well. Despite the 90s wrapping up just 15 years ago, they often feel like several lifetimes ago and as technology continues to advance and at times consume our lives in the process, I feel like we're losing touch with a lot of important parts of society and daily life that were still around in the second half of the 20th century,

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. I was at university in the 1990s, so it often startles me to realise how long ago that was. It's weird to think I still own stuff, bought from new, that some people would sell as 'vintage'.

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  9. As a child of the 1960s (born in 1966) I vividly remember the house we lived in until 1971 - the Habitat furniture and groovy Heals' fabrics, my Dad's AC Cobra and Mum wafting around in Jean Varon maxis and her Afghan coat which permeated patchouli oil. Those memories probably explain my love for the era.
    I was never a fan of Cilla although Blind Date was pretty much essential viewing back in the 1980s. xxx

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    1. Heh, your parents sound as stylish as you are! I bet you wish you still had some of those maxis.

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