Twiggy, Beatles and World Cup: 50 years on, why it was glorious to be a Brit in 1966


Blackleaf
+1
#1  Top Rated Post
Today, it has become a fabled age a time of pretty girls in mini-skirts driving zippy Mini cars, of Michael Caine being happily promiscuous as Alfie at the cinema, of Ready, Steady, Go starting the weekend on TV, and of British bands dominating the world of popular music.

And then, to top everything, there was England winning the World Cup. Those who weren't there must think the Sixties were one long party. Well, I was there, and I have to tell you it wasn't quite like that.

Amid the excitement there were some pretty bleak years, too, most notably 1962, when, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I went to sleep one night wondering whether I would be vaporised by a Soviet nuclear missile while I slept. It could have happened.

But one year, one glorious year, did live up to the legend. It was 1966, and it began exactly half a century ago this week. Unbelievably to me, it is now distant enough to be considered a part of history. To be young then, and to be lucky enough to be living in Britain, was, in words borrowed from William Wordsworth, 'very heaven'.

The most glorious year to be a Brit: Twiggy, the best Beatles album, a World Cup win - and a nation bathed in optimism. 50 years on, RAY CONNOLLY celebrates the joy of being alive in 1966


By Ray Connolly For The Daily Mail
2 January 2016
Daily Mail


A poster for the 1966 World Cup, which was held in England


Today, it has become a fabled age a time of pretty girls in mini-skirts driving zippy Mini cars, of Michael Caine being happily promiscuous as Alfie at the cinema, of Ready, Steady, Go starting the weekend on TV, and of British bands dominating the world of popular music.

And then, to top everything, there was England winning the World Cup. Those who weren't there must think the Sixties were one long party. Well, I was there, and I have to tell you it wasn't quite like that.

Amid the excitement there were some pretty bleak years, too, most notably 1962, when, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I went to sleep one night wondering whether I would be vaporised by a Soviet nuclear missile while I slept. It could have happened.

But one year, one glorious year, did live up to the legend. It was 1966, and it began exactly half a century ago this week. Unbelievably to me, it is now distant enough to be considered a part of history. To be young then, and to be lucky enough to be living in Britain, was, in words borrowed from William Wordsworth, 'very heaven'.


Free-thinking attitudes and the teaching of fashion and photography at colleges of art around the country had laid the foundations that would put Twiggy, 'The Face Of 1966', on the front covers of millions of magazines


Wordsworth was musing poetically on the peaceful early days of the French Revolution in 1789, but here in Britain we saw in 1966 a home-grown mini- revolution happily smashing through all kinds of traditional and even technological barricades. Youth culture, free artistic expression and innovation were being given their head.

By 1966, World War II had been over for more than 20 years, and young people, who had little or no memory of the Blitz, had grown up on free education, the NHS, almost full employment and the abolition of National Service.

We were, I still believe, the luckiest generation ever, as we rejoiced in our millions on July 30, 1966, after Geoff Hurst made it 4-2 to England against West Germany. And, as captain Bobby Moore was handed the Jules Rimet trophy, it felt as though we truly were on top of the world and not just in football. As the Kinks sang that summer, it really was a Sunny Afternoon.

I'd like to be able to say I was smack bang in the midst of all the Sixties excitement, out clubbing every night with the new young meteors of pop, art and the big screen. In fact I was watching enviously from the wings in Liverpool, as I learned my trade in journalism as a lowly graduate trainee.

Liverpool may have been considered the grooviest city in the world then, but by 1966 the Beatles had fled to London. Just my luck to have missed all the fun, I would think, as I drove my red MG Midget into the city centre, Radio Caroline blasting from the car radio.

In retrospect I was more fortunate than I realised. Some of the World Cup group matches took place in Liverpool that summer, and to be in that football-mad city at such a time was akin to being baptised at a revivalist meeting.

Perhaps to be working on a newspaper made me doubly aware, too, as week by week the headlines told of breakthroughs such as the oil which was then being regularly discovered under the North Sea. Optimism shone around, in technology as much as anything else.

There was a new British invention called the hovercraft, which in April 1966 began carrying passengers on a cushion of air, rather like a noisy magic carpet, across the English Channel.

Then, a few weeks later, a Hawker Harrier jet demonstrated the seemingly impossible at Farnborough Air Show by taking off vertically, as though it was ascending miraculously into Heaven.


There was a new British invention called the hovercraft, which in April 1966 began carrying passengers on a cushion of air, rather like a noisy magic carpet, across the English Channel. The cross-Channel hovercraft service ended in 2000

Prime Minister Harold Wilson's vaunted, and sometimes mocked, promise about our future being built on the 'white heat of technology' had grown wings with the 'Jump Jet'.

After having grown up cowed by the glamour of rich Americans, with their films and rock 'n' roll, young people suddenly felt a genuine surge of pride in being British not because we had an Empire, because we scarcely did any more, but because of what some of our generation was creating.


We were, I still believe, the luckiest generation ever as we rejoiced in our millions on July 30, 1966, after Geoff Hurst made it 4-2 to England against West Germany


British actor Warren Mitchell as Alf Garnett in a Christmas edition of the BBC Television series 'Till Death Us Do Part'


The year had begun with The Beatles' LP Rubber Soul their best, for my money at the top of the album charts

We were, for instance, leaving the Americans standing at what they had always done best popular music.

The year had begun with The Beatles' LP Rubber Soul their best, for my money at the top of the album charts. But just seven months later, less than a week after the England footballers' triumph at Wembley, they had a new album in the shops the ground-breaking Revolver, which included my all-time favourite song, Eleanor Rigby.

This was British popular music at its very best. But the charts then were replete with classic records which have somehow turned into eternal hits. There was Tom Jones with Green, Green Grass Of Home, the Troggs with Wild Thing and Dusty Springfield's You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.

Part of the Sixties legend has, of course, always been Carnaby Street and the fashion industry. But London's place then as the young fashion capital of the world didn't happen by chance.

Free-thinking attitudes and the teaching of fashion and photography at colleges of art around the country had laid the foundations that would put Twiggy, 'The Face Of 1966', on the front covers of millions of magazines.

She was voted The Woman Of The Year as well that December, and she was still only 17. The year began with a song high in the charts called England Swings ('like a pendulum do') by American country singer Roger Miller.

Its rhyming was dire, but Miller was on to something, and Time magazine took up his theme and did a famous cover story on 'Swinging London'.

With that piece, London's Sixties image, and, by extension, that of the rest of the country, was captured for international posterity.

Simultaneously Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni was attempting to put the era onto film in Blow Up, starring David Hemmings as a groovy young photographer. Vanessa Redgrave was in it, too. She bared her chest and Jane Birkin showed the rest a first for anyone in a British film.

Attitudes to sex and nudity were changing, but all those stories about the Sixties being all 'sex, drugs 'n' rock and roll' were pretty wide of the mark as far as the mass of young people went. The Pill had become available in the UK only five years earlier and could still be acquired only by way of a prescription from an often suspicious doctor. It sometimes took a very brave young single woman to ask for one. Homosexual acts, meanwhile, were still a criminal offence.

As for drugs, although amphetamines had been around the clubs for years, cannabis was just becoming widely available, and the UK acted quickly to make the psychedelic drug LSD illegal.

What was leaving these shores were the fruits of a briefly buoyant period in the British film industry, with Georgy Girl, which was based on a Margaret Forster novel, making a star of Vanessa's little sister Lynn Redgrave, as well as being the basis for a spin-off hit by the Seekers.

Then there was Robert Bolt's play about Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons, which, when filmed that year, walked off with six Academy Awards

Equally popular, but less gruesome than the Tudor melodrama, was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor viciously scrapping it out through the booze.

There was by 1966 a new muscle in British TV, too. No character illustrated this more memorably than Alf Garnett, who appeared in the first episode of Till Death Us Do Part in June. Warren Mitchell's comic performance as the wife-bullying, bigoted, racist, ignorant Cockney would win him and the show many prizes, but you have to wonder how many of writer Johnny Speight's spikier lines on race would be allowable today in our politically correct times.

By far the most important programme that year was the play Cathy Come Home, made by the young team of Ken Loach and Tony Garnett a study of a young mother who falls through the cracks of the welfare system and has her children taken into care.

It made hundreds of newspaper headlines and generated questions in the Commons as it pointed fingers at the inadequacies of the social services. It must have made uncomfortable viewing for the Labour Party, which had just won a large majority at the General Election.


By far the most important programme that year was the play Cathy Come Home, made by the young team of Ken Loach and Tony Garnett


This was British popular music at its very best. But the charts then were replete with classic records which have somehow turned into eternal hits, including Tom Jones with Green, Green Grass Of Home


Cathy Come Home is a study of a young mother who falls through the cracks of the welfare system and has her children taken into care

This was television doing its job superlatively, as it did in October when a slag heap of slurry from a pit slid down a mountain and buried a school at Aberfan in South Wales. One-hundred-and-sixteen children, along with 28 adults, died that morning, all buried alive under a man-made mountain.

Seeing on our 12in monochrome television the inky wet slag, like black lava from a volcano, still seeping through the little village printed a lifelong picture on to my mind.

This was 1966. How could such a tragedy occur in what we now considered our new, shiny, modern, Sixties Britain? There are now no deep pits in the UK, and the slag heaps have largely been flattened or planted with trees and shrubs to make them stable. But the pain of that day will endure 50 years on in that little town.

Yes, as well as the fun, there were appalling events in 1966, as there are every year, and we remember those, too. The crisis in Nigeria as the Biafra region fought for independence, the ongoing Vietnam War to which Harold Wilson refused to commit British troops despite U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's entreaties.

But human nature is generated by the survival instinct, by healing and by hope, and the belief that we can learn from our mistakes and disasters. As the years fly past, we mainly recall the sunny days of our lives, and that, I suspect is how most of us who were around then will remember 1966.

We laugh when reminded of how in 1966 Chi Chi, the female giant panda in London Zoo, was flown to Moscow for what turned out to be a disappointing one-night stand with An An, an unamorous Russian male panda.

We smile and reflect on how our spending has changed since the introduction of Barclaycard, Britain's first credit card, that year; and we think fondly of how a good night out in 1966 was steak and chips and a schooner of sherry at a Berni Inn.

One schooner would have been enough for me. I couldn't have afforded more.

Looking back, can we say that 1966 was an important year of change? In some places, yes, and not necessarily for the better.

In China, Chairman Mao announced his disastrous Cultural Revolution and in Rhodesia, Ian Smith took his country out of the Commonwealth when negotiations with the British Government for majority rule finally broke down.

But in Britain the most interesting activity was behind the headlines, as new race relations laws and the Homosexual Reform Act were being prepared, and we wondered, with little enthusiasm for or against, whether President de Gaulle of France would ever let us join the Common Market.

It was said in America that after the war Britain lost an empire and failed to find a new role for itself. But that wasn't how it felt to be young in 1966. We only looked forward then in that pivotal mid-Sixties year, never back.

Everything seemed possible in the new meritocratic Britain in which the class barriers were, albeit, perhaps briefly, tumbling. Optimism blossomed on the trees. Perhaps some of it was misplaced, and, as we now know, there would be disappointments to follow.

But my memories of 1966 are of a year that seemed as young and cheekily ambitious as I was, and, incidentally, a year that was made perfect for me when Plum, my girlfriend, and I were married one happy spring day.



Read more: RAY CONNOLLY celebrates Twiggy, the best Beatles album, a World Cup win | Daily Mail Online
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Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 2nd, 2016 at 08:53 AM..
 
Tecumsehsbones
#2
And then the birds, the Pakis, the wogs, and the blacks ruined it all.

Poor princess. Here, have a tissue.
 
Curious Cdn
#3
Cripes! You're older than I thought.

I suppose that after the austerity of protracted rationing up to that time, everyone wanted to party.

Here, that happened in the 1950's
 
Tecumsehsbones
#4
The Briddish have a problem keeping up.
 
Curious Cdn
+1
#5
Here is Engaland's new national anthem, reproduced for you here:


Eng-ga-land, oh En-ga-land my hand is o'er my heart,
We love you for your wheels of cheese and deep fried jammy tarts.
We pray to you, oh Lord above to make the dark clouds part
and return to us our football cup to where the sport did start.
 
Ludlow
+1
#6
I liked the Beatles. I'll follow the sun was a favorite of mine. I thought also that Tom Jones was a great singer. Twiggy on the other hand ,,well I never could figure out the attraction there but to each his own tastes. England did give us some great music no denying that.
 
Cannuck
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

And then the birds, the Pakis, the wogs, and the blacks ruined it all.

Poor princess. Here, have a tissue.

Go easy on Blackie. It must be tough when all you have is the past
 
Tecumsehsbones
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

Go easy on Blackie. It must be tough when all you have is the past

Princess has a great future. Haven't you heard? He's gonna take Engerland back to the nineteenth century by whining on the internet about how hard-done-by he is.

Bound to work.
 
Cannuck
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Princess has a great future. Haven't you heard? He's gonna take Engerland back to the nineteenth century by whining on the internet about how hard-done-by he is.

Bound to work.

We could start up a GoFundMe account and try to raise enough for a hooker. I think that's a big part of his problem. Are their enough attractive girls left in the UK to have a sex trade?
 
Tecumsehsbones
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

We could start up a GoFundMe account and try to raise enough for a hooker. I think that's a big part of his problem. Are their enough attractive girls left in the UK to have a sex trade?

I'm not sure there's one desperate enough to take on Princess, for any money.
 
Curious Cdn
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

I'm not sure there's one desperate enough to take on Princess, for any money.

Oh no?

Ever heard of "Essex"?
 
Tecumsehsbones
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

Oh no?

Ever heard of "Essex"?

Could be, but even the girl who does that thing with the horse and the Rottweiler has depths to which she will not sink.
 
gopher
+1
#13
It's true - American media seemed to have more news about Brits than anyone else back then. Seemed like Mary Quant had a lot to do with all that mentioned above by blackie. While the USA was busy wasting its resources and shedding blood in Vietnam the British were busy creating art forms and icons whose influence lasts to this day. It sure is so much better to be engaging in creativity rather than destruction.
 
Blackleaf
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

And then the birds, the Pakis, the wogs, and the blacks ruined it all.

Poor princess. Here, have a tissue.

The day the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in June 1948 started the rot. Britain's racial identity has changed beyond all measure since the 1960s and it's all as a result of a PC but misguided "multiculturalism and diversity" policy from successive PC governments who brought in loads of foreigners without once asking the British public if they want them here or not. As a result, vast swathes of British towns and cities have not one white person in them and, indeed, many areas probably have more speakers of Kx'a than English. Whole schools in some benighted areas have not one English-speaker in them, and racist government schools inspector Ofsted declines to give schools top grades if they are "too white" and therefore not multicultural enough - as it did with that primary school in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, last year when it shamefully attacked the school for having all white pupils in a small town which has very little immigrants - yet, hypocritically, it doesn't penalise schools for having all black pupils or all Muslim pupils in, even though such schools are just as unmulticultural as schools with all white pupils are.

And that's another reason why 1960s Britain was much better than Britain today. It wasn't a crime in the Britain of 1966 to be white and I bet schools weren't penalised by a blatantly racist government organisation - so blatantly racist yet allowed to be so - because they schools had the audacity to have white pupils being taught in them.

The 1960s were the era before you lot took over the running of the Western world and things were just so much better then as a result.

Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

Cripes! You're older than I thought.

Who, me? I wasn't even born in the 1960s. I was born five days before the 15th anniversary of England winning the World Cup.
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 3rd, 2016 at 07:45 AM..
 
Curious Cdn
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

The day the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in June 1948 started the rot. Britain's racial identity has changed beyond all measure since the 1960s and it's all as a result of a PC but misguided "multiculturalism and diversity" policy from successive PC governments who brought in loads of foreigners without once asking the British public if they want them here or not. As a result, vast swathes of British towns and cities have not one white person in them and, indeed, many areas probably have more speakers of Kx'a than English. Whole schools in some benighted areas have not one English-speaker in them, and racist government schools inspector Ofsted declines to give schools top grades if they are "too white" and therefore not multicultural enough - as it did with that primary school in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, last year when it shamefully attacked the school for having all white pupils in a small town which has very little immigrants - yet, hypocritically, it doesn't penalise schools for having all black pupils or all Muslim pupils in, even though such schools are just as unmulticultural as schools with all white pupils are.

And that's another reason why 1960s Britain was much better than Britain today. It wasn't a crime in the Britain of 1966 to be white and I bet schools weren't penalised by a blatantly racist government organisation - so blatantly racist yet allowed to be so - because they schools had the audacity to have white pupils being taught in them.

The 1960s were the era before you lot took over the running of the Western world and things were just so much better then as a result.



Who, me? I wasn't even born in the 1960s. I was born five days before the 15th anniversary of England winning the World Cup.

You're like most of the Leafs fans out there.

Do you know what a Cargo Cult is?

Waiting for John Documentary
 
Blackleaf
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

You're like most of the Leafs fans out there.

Do you know what a Cargo Cult is?

Waiting for John Documentary


A cargo cult is a Melanesian millenarian movement encompassing a diverse range of practices and occurring in the wake of contact with the commercial networks of colonizing societies. The name derives from the belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth ("cargo").

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult


Cargo Cult is also the stage name of a Slovakian electronica musician.
 
gopher
#17





pronounced "moon doe - cah nee"


this controversial movie from 1962 had a segment on cargo cults
 
Curious Cdn
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

A cargo cult is a Melanesian millenarian movement encompassing a diverse range of practices and occurring in the wake of contact with the commercial networks of colonizing societies. The name derives from the belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth ("cargo").

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult


Cargo Cult is also the stage name of a Slovakian electronica musician.

They also wait in vain for the return of "Joe Cargo" or the World Cup or the Stasnley Cup ..
 
gopher
#19
Wild Cargo


Wild Cargo - Television Obscurities


one of my all time favorite tv shows
 
gopher
#20
Hey Blackie


1966 also marked the release of "Shakespeare Wallah" which had been completed the year before. It introduced Felicity Kendal. She of the very doll like girlish face ~ I've always had a crush on her cause she's kinda cute.




 
Tecumsehsbones
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

Who, me? I wasn't even born in the 1960s. I was born five days before the 15th anniversary of England winning the World Cup.

". . . a date which will live in infamy."
--FDR
 

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