Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Charging Up for Change OR Swinging Sixties, History v Myth

Oh, but I remember the frumpy fifties so well…as if they were but a few years ago instead of half a century…! The leap in to the 1960 gave us all a welcome shock. Looking back, though, how much do we recall as it really was and how much has been airbrushed along the way by a cult mythology...?

Oh, but where DOES the time go, eh?


Oh, those formal, frumpy fifties!
BBC TV announcers
in evening dress even in the afternoon…
Glued to the radio (hangover
from a bleak wartime) while the likes
of Bronco, Cheyenne, Wells Fargo
and Wagon Train harvest rich myths  
of the old American West
for future generations to look back
with pride, the shame
of Wounded Knee left to Hollywood
with poor excuses

Off ‘n’ away with post-war blues,
we’re looking good…

Enter, skiffle and Lonnie Donegan
before rock and roll began
to take root and Juke Box Jury
woke us all up from days
of ballroom dancing to bold frontiers
of disco (forget the Lone Ranger
and Tonto); Mods and rockers fighting
each other for tabloid headlines,
girls adapting their hemlines to more
than simply fashion…
boys discovering drainpipe trousers
and winkle-picker shoes

Off ‘n’ away with post-war blues,
let the good times roll…

Along came Z-cars, eagerly elbowing out
dear old Dixon of Dock Green
(shortly doomed to bite the dust along
with Bronco and the rest);
the sixties taking over, Beatlemania
on a par with world religions,
politics fair game for anyone free
(supposedly) to indulge controversial
opinions of their own
so long as nothing likely to offend
Cold War ethics among gentlemen spies
and old boy networks

From frumpy fifties to swinging heaven
or wistful imagination…?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

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