The turn of a new decade is always a significant time, looking forwarding on what new wonders or events will unfold in the 10 years to come, reflecting on the import of the ten that have returned to the place where time goes when it is spent.
I am a child of 1960, born in the first months of a decade known now as the “Swinging Sixties”. Were they swinging? For me, the only swinging that happened was in the playground of the local park, reaching for the clouds and the big blue sky with each carefully time push of my legs to propel me higher and higher.
That was a time of black and white television, Mini cars and mini skirts, rockets to the Moon and riots on television, be those in Paris, Chicago or Belfast. From what I can remember of those times, the milkman switched from a horse-drawn car to an electric float, everyone read newspapers and few people had phones in their homes. Now, everyone reads phones and there are few newspapers in homes. How times have changed.
The 1980s seem now like a time of big shoulders, big hair, big attitude. The music was loud, electronic and disco. And music showed too it had a conscience. Where were you for Band-Aid? If you’re old enough to remember, you’ll know it was a first to Feed the World and Let Them Know it’s Christmastime, and the only moonwalking then came from Michael Jackson
I do remember that the Sunday papers were full of colour magazines looking back on the highlights of the 1960s. Knowing now what I didn’t know then, those magazines would be keepers’ items, to be treasured for their significance as the first draft of the history of my times. The Apollo programme and the Moon landing. The Vietnam War. The Civil Rights protests in the US. The Cold War and the building of the Berlin Wall. The Cuba Missile Crisis. The Kennedy Assassination. The Arab-Israeli conflict and international terrorism. England winning the World Cup. The Great Train Robbery. The Beatles. Another Kennedy assassination.
And when the calendar flipped over to 1970, we all looked forward to the promise of computers, how there would be one in every home and, if we were lucky, a robot would be in every home too. We wouldn’t have to work as much. Every home would have a telephone and you’d be able to see as well as talk to the person at the other end of the line.
Looking back, the reality was far different. Computers were slow to come — not really until the end of the 1980s. Robots are still looking for homes but they’re all too common now in all too many workplaces. There was more Vietnam War. Watergate. Hippies and hugs. Revolution in Iran and across Latin and Central America, Africa too. Too little oil, too many strikes. It was the decade too where I got my first car. A Mini. And a girlfriend too with a mini.
The 1980s seem now like a time of big shoulders, big hair, big attitude. The music was loud, electronic and disco. And music showed too it had a conscience. Where were you for Band-Aid? If you’re old enough to remember, you’ll know it was a first to Feed the World and Let Them Know it’s Christmastime, and the only moonwalking then came from Michael Jackson. And yes, more terrorism, be it in West Germany, Britain or Belfast.
The Naughty 90s? Perhaps, but Saddam Hussain and Iraq dominated, so too Bill Clinton. And those computers entered our homes and yes, we could first carry phones in our pockets and read news on a thing called the world wide web. But you had to have a telephone at home and a modem to be able to dial in for access.
Just don’t get me started about the Y2K bug, when every computer was supposed to go into meltdown just because the digits flipped from 99 to 00 at the stroke of midnight at the end of the decade.