Save Our Sixties
As Adolf Hitler famously remarked: if you remember the 'sixties, you weren't there. Well, I don't remember them, so that's irrefutable proof that I was there. If you want to argue the point, take it up with Adolf.
Although the 'sixties appear somewhat anarchic in hindsight, like any other decade they had their rules. "If you're going to San Francisco," Hermann Goering advised, "be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." He also said something about planting a wig in your garden, but the German accent made him a little indistinct when stoned.
Some of the things the 'sixties were famous for were mini skirts. Other decades from the 'forties right up to the 'eighties looked on enviously as girls began to show their knickers. Eva Braun pointed out that anyone who wanted to see knickers had only to visit Marks and Spencer, but she was twist-and-shouted down by the Beatles and in future minded her own business.
The Beatles invented pop music in a place they called Liverpool, which nobody had ever heard of. Their invention was commemorated in the song Mersey Beats and Dozy Beats, sung by Groovy and the Crash Pads. Shortly afterwards the Beatles joined the Cavern Club and went on many singing outings and picnics.
An amazing fact about the ‘sixties was that you could write 1961 upside down and it would still look exactly the same. There were many exciting television programs about it, where scientists were asked if they could guess when such a groovy thing might happen again, but in 1961 only three people owned TV sets so nobody saw them. In the ‘sixties TV manufacturers thought people would like to bang their sets to make them work and twiddle controls to keep the picture still, so all televisions had those features.
In the ‘sixties girls were either birds or chicks. You couldn’t get the ordinary sort. It was a major problem, cleaning up their droppings. One of the chicks was called Twiggy; she became famous when other birds began to perch on her. Another famous chick was Mary Quant, inventor of winter fashion essentials like heated bras and hot pants. Birds could also get famous by dressing in a Laura Ashley frock and singing about magic dragons, or by being Monica Rose and putting up with Hughie Green’s wandering appendages.
Hughie Green was a popular game show host and inventor of techniques such as patronising the lower classes, who loved him for it. He is believed to have fathered 14,783 children by means of a sperm aerosol deployed on the studio audience. His stunt double Michael Miles hosted shows that Green was too busy to bother with, but didn’t get to impregnate any of Hughie’s birds. Hughie seduced his chicks with the catchphrase ‘here’s one I made earlier,’ at which point he would produce Paula Yates from his wheelbarrow.
In the ‘sixties gays hadn’t been invented and Liberace was just a man who liked candlesticks. People experimented with other kinds of sex and soon discovered that men and birds fitted together particularly well, although the practice never caught on in Wales. Swinging meant something entirely different in those days, it meant you weren’t square, which was a good thing if you wanted to avoid chafing.
People of my generation were busy with school and paper rounds in the ‘sixties. We had our 'sixties in the 'seventies, while it was still fresh and there was plenty left. Joplin and Hendrix took one look at the ‘seventies, didn’t like what they saw and checked out. Jim Morrison gave it a year: it didn’t get any better so he quit too. But there was still plenty of Who, quite a lot of Stones and tons of Led Zeppelin to be had.
Some people are having their 'sixties today, although there’s barely enough to go around. There's only a quarter of a Beatles still in working order, and that bit doesn't do very much. The Stones are in desperate need of renovation. Dennis Hopper claims he only smoked dope because the pixies made him do it. Tim Leary has tripped out. If we don't act now, there won't be any 'sixties left for future generations to enjoy.
It’s not too late. With your help we can turn the Olympic Stadium into a Cavern Club theme park. We can re-form the Merry Pranksters and equip them with a helicopter gunship. We can set scientists to work to devise ways of making skirts even shorter. We can campaign to retain nuclear weapons at Aldermaston so our children have something to protest about. We can declare war on Vietnam.
To this end we have organised Peace and Love riots in all major cities. Keep your eye on the social network sites for details. Be there or be square.
For those who weren't around:
Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering and Eva Braun had nothing to do with the sixties. I used the names of philosophers first, then thought Nazis would take less explaining. Eva Braun was Hitler's bird.
If you're going to San Francisco...etc. was a song written by John Phillips of Mamas and Papas (Californis Dreamin') fame, although sung by somebody else.
Mary Quant was a Welsh fashion designer credited with inventing both the miniskirt and hot pants.
The Beatles - if you don't know who they are I might as well give up! In the early days, before they became famous, they used to perform at a place called the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Mersey Beats and Dozy Beats refers to both the Mersey Sound, or Merseybeat, the sound of Liverpool 'beat' groups of the time, and also to the 1944 hit song 'Mairzy Doats' in which nonsense words were supposed to sound like 'Mares eat oats, etc.' There was never a group, as far as I know, called Groovy and the Crash Pads.
A crash pad was somewhere you 'crashed' (slept) or 'crashed out' (slept when you couldn't keep grooving any longer - what a waste of 'sixties!)
TV sets in those days really were as bad as I say! And (in the UK) they showed only black and white pictures until 1967.
Twiggy (Lesley Hornby) was the first supermodel.
Puff, the Magic Dragon was a truly dreadful song from 1963 by a trio called Peter, Paul and Mary. Some claimed that the 'magic dragon' was a joint. Peter, Paul and Mary said, "what's a joint?"
Hughie Green was, as I say, a slimy presenter of TV game shows. On one show a contestant called Monica Rose was so popular with the audience that she was employed to work as Hughie Green's co-presenter.
Hughie Green (read his biography, it's fascinating) was not a nice man. He was indeed the father of Paula Yates, who was Bob Geldof's missus until 1996. (Another biography worth reading!)
Michael Miles was another famous game show host of the time. He died in 1971.
Liberace was a camp piano player, at one time the highest paid entertainer in the world. His signature prop was a candelabrum. He was gayer than Elton John.
Janis Joplin (singer), Jimi Hendrix (guitarist) and Jim Morrison (singer with The Doors) all died proper rock 'n' roll drug deaths, the first two in 1970; Morrison in 1971.
The Who, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin are all groups that began in the 'sixties and lasted well beyond their sell-by dates.
Dennis Hopper starred, alongside Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda, in a film called Easy Rider in 1969. I hope you've seen it!
Tim Leary had a great time with LSD and popularised the phrase 'turn on, tune in and drop out.' Another person you really ought to look up if you haven't heard of him!
The Merry Pranksters - what to say? If you can stand Tom Wolfe's prose style, try reading his book about them: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Ken Kesey, leader of the Pranksters, wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The film of it is on TV as I write.