I was watching a Top Of The Pops 1985 special last night, and it was absolutely magical. A world of shiny, metallic, puff-ball dresses, permed hair, and dancing. No one back then would have been looking at the presenters wondering if they were some kind of pervert, it was pure entertainment. A time when you’d go and queue up on a Saturday morning to buy your favourite new single out that week. Everything was fresh and exciting, a time where young people gave a real up yours to the adult world through extensive use of hairspray and face paint. It was a simpler time, right?
When we look back on the past we do something we never do about anything else in our life. We only see the positive. In the present day it’s the negatives that jump out at us. We remember the troll on our post saying they hate our new haircut and ignore the 50 other people saying we look great. But the past is shrouded in smoke screens eliminating everything but the amazing. We see the fashion, the dancing, the make up, the hair. We hear the music of Electric Dreams and Club Tropicana. It takes us back to when a pub was just for drinking and the occasional cheese bap, and you could buy a Mars bar for under 20p.
There was no internet in peoples homes, no social media. There was no chance of working on the weekends, or that client calling your mobile on your day off. You had to actually leave your house to go and discover bands, and if you wanted to get fit you’d sweat in your living room with Jane Fonda. You knew everyone that lived on your street, and you’d all go drinking in the local boozer together. Life was easy, it was a simpler time, we had it good.
But, just as a cassette has an A side- there’s also a B. When you take a closer look you’ll find songs of Vietnam soldiers and miners strikes. An economy thrown into ruin and whole towns left jobless. People knew neighbours because they had to. Communities relied on each other to make it through. Hand me down clothes were the thing, and anything new had been pieced together by your Mum from the itchiest wool known to man. There was no such thing as expendable cash, and radio was king because there was no money to go out.
We may think today that things are tough, and if we went back to simper lives we’d be better off. But the fact is that all times have good and bad, we just forget the stuff we want to.
Personally I like being able to message a friend that my train is running late. I like being able to get a new book I want straight away on a Sunday night. If I want to know how to make bread and butter pudding I’ll Google it, and if I don’t have an ingredient there’s a 24-hour supermarket down the road I can get it from. Life may not be as simple, but it is easier. There’s nowhere near the need to be organised now- if somethings forgotten it can be instantly gained.
But what we can do is take the things that we love from the past and bring them with us. If you like rah-rah skirts and back combed hair then go for it. If something makes you happy you don’t have to leave it behind. We can blur the lines between then and now if we want to- take the best from everything we’ve experienced. Mix the past with the present to keep all the things we love. We can have our halloumi and eat it whilst listening to Heart 80s. Bliss.