Friday, 18 November 2011

Book learning #72 Crisis? What Crisis? Britain in the 1970s

I was there.
From that day in March 1973 I was a witness to all that Alwyn W. Turner wrote about.

I am here.
I am living through another bitter, battered and torn decade.

I found this book whilst helping to clear out a friend's house. They let me have it. I had heard about it on 6music a while ago. It had tickled my fancy but I had placed it on the back burner.

I housed this on my shelves for a few months, it was on the list, I was planning to read it. I picked it up, I looked at the pictures, I skimmed the first few pages. I hated it.
Then something changed, I got through the first few pages, Goddamit I was hooked.

If you are looking for a book detailing the every moment of the decade, look elsewhere.
This was not as witty as I had thought it might be. It was not a Maconie-esque memoir of a happily forgotten age. It was a supremely thoughtful account of one of the most difficult decades this country has been through, a decade that until 2007, we thought we had left behind forever.

I ended up loving this book. This was the British 'Nixonland'. In fact, if I were at a party and 'Crisis? What Crisis?' were to bump into 'Nixonland' I would be in one hell of an awkward situation (although not as awkward as it might have been if I had been reading the two at the same time).

I relished the time spent reading about the unions (and reflecting on our current predicament), the political turmoil and the cultural zeitgiest.

And on a bizarro note, I have always fantasised about running a pub called 'The Sunny Jim' or perhaps 'The Callaghan'. I would have a quiz night on a Tuesday called 'Quiz night? What Quiz night?' I do wonder how successful such an endeavour would be?

I'm sending this to a friend in New York. He enjoyed the 70's. He'll enjoy this book.