This year (as any fule kno) marks the 50th anniversary of 1963 which was both one of the coldest years of the 20th century and one of the coolest years ever.
People who decide what was important will be busy dissecting and reappraising the Profumo affair, Kim Philby, the Great Train Robbery, the phenomenon that was the Beatles, the assassination of President Kennedy and (according to Philip Larkin) the invention of sex. I can remember some of these – Kennedy and the Great Train Robbery and the Beatles. Philby was just part of the tired old world of spies, Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation that formed the backdrop to the times.
For girls of my age it would be difficult to underestimate the impact of the Sindy doll – a home-grown competitor to Barbie and our formal introduction to the world of cynical consumerism. Although I eventually got my own Sindy, I quickly balked at spending all my hard-unearned pocket money on yet another new outfit.
On a local level, 1963 was the year when Libby the Lebanese student introduced my family to something called yoghurt and declared that she was going to buy tangerine sombrero. It was also the year that I saw my first feature film.
On Saturday afternoons, we would all be given 9d (or possibly 1/3d – it was a long time ago) and sent to the local cinema (The Regent) for an afternoon of short films and cartoons. If it was your birthday, you went up on stage and an entire cinema-full of children would sing “Happy Birthday”. In retrospect, I suspect that the enthusiasm with which parents forked out for this particular activity had more to do with Philip Larkin than Daffy Duck. Anyway, one Saturday in 1963, we were treated to a special showing of Summer Holiday which was not only full length, but also in colour (all TV and live action shorts were black and white – only cartoons were made in colour) and had the merit of being “a grown up” film.
My real memories of 1963 – the memories that seared themselves into my brain cells or wherever memories live – the ones that will pop up as fresh as the day they were formed when I’ve forgotten what happened yesterday revolve around two events: one historical and one personal.
To be (as they used to say in the 60s) continued …
Images: Summer Holiday poster reproduced on the basis of fair comment