I’ll save you the effort of trying this. It can’t be done. Oh, except in Harlow, where some wrinkle in the spacetime continuum has allowed a whole bunch of HG Wells’s Morlocks to come back from the future and infest the place.
The next best thing is to look at artefacts from the past, and something fell into my hands on Friday. It’s part of an issue of the Saffron Walden edition of the Cambridge Evening News, dated August 17th, 1970. It’s fascinatingly dull, and very evocative.
For starters, the small ads. All the prices are in imperial currency, since this was about five months before decimalisation. If you have no recollection of the sheer lunacy of the British monetary setup, then read this http://wp.me/p2C8Zz-dS
So we have an advert for carpets at 23/6 per square yard. That’s £1 17.5p. Pretty cheap, eh? A brand new sewing machine would set you back 31 ½ guineas, including a case. Second hand cars at under 500 quid; a Sunbeam Rapier droptop could be had for £130. A Semi-detached house in Cambridge for £4400 ono. You can’t get a new car for that money today, can you?
The phone numbers don’t have STD codes, they still have exchange names such as St Ives. Brill. When I was a child our local exchange was MAIn, and later MEDlock Head. Took me straight back in time.
The news was much as you’d expect for a regional evening newspaper. Headline was ‘Storm over skinheads bus ban.’ A load of footie fans from Lincoln weren’t allowed on a bus to take them to Cambridge for a local derby. Note there was a ‘storm’ about this. Times have changed, but reporting hasn’t, has it?
How about this? ‘’Shoemaker’s fire may have been deliberate.’ Front page news, this one. As was ‘Cash theft’ when four quid got boosted from the changing room at St Neot’s football club. Big league crime in the sticks.
‘Caravan men in emergency talks.’ Possible three day working week coming up for a caravan factory employing 1000 people from Newmarket and Fordham.
‘Man (101) weds’ Rather touching news I felt, until I read further and found that Hassan Bin Josoh’s bride was a mere 18 years old. ‘Brewery men back at work.’ Whitbread’s depot at Luton had been crippled by a strike by forklift drivers. An entire county breathed a sigh of relief at this one.
‘Major Nunn dies aged 82.’ This august gent was no less a personage than the President of the Cambridge branch of the Old Contemptibles Association. A nation mourned, no doubt.
The TV and radio listings are fun, because there were only three TV channels; BBC1; BBC2; and ITV Anglia. Who needed 400 odd channels back then? Nobody. I also suspect nobody needs that many now either. Transmissions didn’t start until 4:00 PM, and finished at about midnight. Only four radio stations, the BBC’s radios 1, 2, 3, and 4. That’s what you got, like it or lump it.
If you fancied a night on the town, ‘Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice’ was on at the ABC Victoria in Cambridge. Pretty bland, but it caused an uproar in its day, because it was about wife swapping. Or for the more light-hearted approach, ‘Carry on up the jungle’ might be your choice at the ABC Central in Cambridge. Or you maybe could go and cut a rug with Dorothy down at Europa ’70 (Sidney Street entrance, if you please) or be a hep cat and listen to jazz ar the Weathervane pub.
Big news on the back page sport reporting was ‘Boycott hits a century.’ This won’t make any sense at all to those of you in the US, but Geoffrey Boycott was a cricketing legend. He was also a boorish racist bigot, but that seems to have eluded the person reporting on the fifth Test against the Rest of the World team.
There you go. An all too brief trip back in time. It made me smile.