Now this is a book about my era, which I should enjoy as I remember a lot of this stuff, and memory lane is an old, familiar friend. The book is A 1970’s Childhood by Derek Tait. At first I thought the author would cleverly tell a story of the 1970’s, recounting their importance (like other decades), and relevance for shaping modern social history.
This is not necessarily Derek Tait’s fault though. The clue is in the title. A 1970’s childhood is what it is – a series of memories of an influential decade (which taste forgot) which brought us flamboyant clothes, ground-breaking music, tooth-dissolving sweeties, Kojak and non-existent Health & Safety. Maybe I misunderstood where the author was going with this.
Tait is not really discussing the impact all these much-missed things had on a world on the brink of shift into newer times. Instead, he fondly remembers them as the child he was, and tends to string lists together with the regularity of teasmades and cuddly toys whizzing along a conveyor belt*. He writes things like ‘I remember’ more times than there are dimples on a Dalek, and phrases such as…other shows included… .
However, Tait does recount his memories around personal childhood anecdotes, which are interesting to hear. And it breaks the lists up. I suppose what he is actually asking us is…do you remember Bazooka Joe’s…while telling us he used to scrat up discarded packets for the free gift tokens. I always enjoy reading about personal experience.
Somehow we always come back to the old adage of Show, don’t Tell. There is a good bit of telling in this book, but like I said previously, it is what it is and the title doesn’t lie. He even includes some B/W photos (I’m a sucker for photos).
A 1970’s childhood won’t win prizes for lyrical prose, but does have an honest simplicity to it which made me smile, and remember all the crazes, books, films, TV, and whacking my shins trying to stay upright on my friend’s skateboard. So it has done it’s job, and I did actually enjoy reading it. There were a couple of internal design niggles which would have nothing probably to do with the author, but it didn’t detract from what he was trying to say, which was to describe a 1970’s childhood.
* The conveyor belt and it’s typically 1970’s prizes featured in hugely popular British primetime Saturday evening TV show The Generation Game, hosted by Bruce Forsyth, then Larry Grayson, then Forsyth again, and ran from 1971 until 2007. Most families loved it, I know mine did.