A lazy kind of Sunday: ‘That was the year that was’ 1962…

6 02 2012

‘The Sunday Times Magazine’…

‘My God this is going to be a disaster’

Roy Thompson (1894-1976): Canadian owner of the ‘ST’ when the world’s first newspaper colour magazine was launched – February 4th 1962.

‘Heart of Class …you’re still fresh after 50 years…’

Debbie Harry  (1945 – ): American singer songwriter, lead singer with seventies new wave rock band Blondie, in the Anniversary Issue – February 5th 2012. 

It was a busy kind of Saturday. It was an Oxford flat viewing kind of day (the first of many I suspect) with Nicci and an estate agent, full of schoolboy charm!

But on the plus side it was also pub lunch kind of day, a succulent steak and Stilton pie with a pint of ‘Old Hooky’ (from the nearby Hook Norton Brewery – ‘where progress is measured in pints’) at the splendid 17th century ‘White Hart’ pub, in Headington.

It was also a quick ‘getaway’ kind of day, escaping back to ‘the Shire’, across the Cotswolds, just ahead of forecast heavy snow fall.  

It was a lazy kind of Sunday.  It should have been a  morning drive up to ‘Pride Park’, for a lunch time East Midlands clash between the ‘Trickless Trees’  and ‘the Sheep’, kind of day. But the aforementioned snow intervened and a welcome early postponement changed the tone of the day.

It was now a snuggle down with hot bagels (dripping with butter and homemade marmalade) and a steaming cafetière, kind of day; a surround yourself with Sunday papers, listen to England’s Testing times in sunny middle eastern climes, and catch up with the opening weekend of the 6 Nations Rugby, kind of day.

But first, being  fresh out of coffee and in need of a paper it was a trudge into Upton, over snow-covered fields and across the marina bridge, below which a pair of swans were skating on decidedly thin ice, kind of day.

My paper of choice had already sold out – ‘The suppliers only delivered half a dozen, they couldn’t have thought it was an ‘Observer’ kind of day’ – so I settled for the Sunday Times (usually far too many sections for my liking).

As I finally settled down to reading, I found it was  a quite by chance kind of day. Tucked inside the paper was a 50th Anniversary Issue of The Sunday Times Magazine, and it was quickly turning into a nostalgic 1960s kind of day…   

The Sunday Times colour supplement magazine was the world’s first – published on the Feb 4th 1962.

It was born on the eve of the Swinging Sixties, a period of unprecedented social change. Top quality photo journalism was at its core but it was more than a photo magazine, quickly gaining a reputation for its incisive copy on contemporary news and issues.

Over the last 50 years, Sunday Times Magazine covers have provided countless iconic images, redolent of their time.

English model and actress Jean Shrimpton appeared on the very first cover, photographed by her then boyfriend  David Bailey, a pair of emerging talents who epitomised the ‘London swings…’  culture of high fashion, celebrity and chic.  

The Anniversary colour supplement looked back at key events it has covered over the last 50 years, and  how life has changed (or not) since that first issue 1962.

In February 1962 I was a nine-year old school boy (9 yrs and 8 months to be precise) and little did I know, at the time,  that I was about to spend my formative early teenage years in what was to become the most exciting and revolutionary decade in British 20th century history.    

What follows is a slice of life circa 1962, just before sixties began to really swing  – 50 items of trivia, news and events that summarise the year the ‘ST Magazine’ had its genesis. It might mean something to those of  ‘my generation’ but diddly-squat to my kids, and one day, even less to theirs!

In 1962 it was a very fine year, a  year of…        

1                     Hair curlers: no self respecting girl could be seen out on a Friday or Saturday night without first setting her hair in rollers 

2                     Green Shield stamp albums : an early customer loyalty scheme, trading stamps were issued with everything from groceries to petrol, and completed  albums could be exchanged for  electric irons, drills, carriage clocks…  

3                    £ s d : there were still 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound, and if you received a birthday card with a ten shilling note enclosed, you were a king!   

4                    Ladybird books:  pocket-sized hardbacks for children with a distinctive ladybird logo, priced half a crown (or 2/6), covered  stoneage to space race

5                      Black & white television: with just two channels, BBC and ITV

6                      ‘Dixon of Dock Green’: ‘Evening all!’ – Jack Warner, an old-fashioned beat bobby, was immensely popular but soon to be over taken by…

7                     ‘Z Cars’:  a  gritty cutting edge police drama launched by the BBC,starring a youthful Brian Blessed as PC Fancy Smith  

8                     ‘The Black & White Minstrel Show’: despite its distasteful blacked up faces, a popular weekly light musical entertainment show  

9                     ‘Steptoe and Son’: an early BBC sit com about cockney rag and bone men – the talk of the playground when old man Steptoe used his false teeth to extract pickled onions from a jar!  

10                  ‘The Archers’ : ‘an everyday story of country folk’ on the BBC Home Service, every bit as  popular then as now!

11                   ‘The Navy Lark’: a flag-ship comedy on the BBC Light Programme,  full of eccentrics and innuendo – starring Jon Pertwee and Ronnie Barker amongst others  

12                   Harold MacMillan: Britain was still essentially conservative, with both a lower and upper case C, and ‘Super Mac’ told us we had never had it so good!

13                   Blackpool: was still the time-honoured seaside resort of choice for many but…

14                  Package holidays: were tempting a few trailblazing Brits abroad – an all-inclusive Globalair holiday to Mallorca cost 35 guineas, and …  

15                 British Airways: British European Airways way back then, were offering  8 days in Paris for £25 and 8 shillings, or a fortnight on the Venice Lido for £55

16                 Married life: barely one in 20 births were outside marriage, the majority of women married by 24, only a third of wives worked, and divorce rates were as low as 2.1 per 1000 married couples

17                 High rise tower blocks: slum clearance programmes were well under way and building upwards was seen as the communal progressive future

18                 Birmingham Bull Ring Centre: construction started on Brum’s state of the art indoor shopping complex

19                 Ken Morrison: opened his first supermarket in Bradford

20                ‘Golden Wonder’: cheese and onion, the first flavoured crisps, went on sale

21                 The Ring Pull:  invented by Ermal Cleon Fraze (of Dayton Ohio), revolutionised the drinks industry – it was the real thing!

22                 ‘Maxwell House’:  Brits were beginning to wake up and  smell ‘coffee pot fresh’ instant coffee

23                  ‘Players’: cigarettes were sexy, and the ‘People Love Players’ advertising slogan was to be found everywhere – with not a government health warning in sight 

24                 The Ford Cortina: was the undisputed car of the decade

25                The Ford Consul Classic 315: with a ‘boundless boot’, twin headlamps, front disc brakes, variable speed wipers and a top speed of 80 mph (well 78.4 to be precise) could be all  yours for  £745 (£13,000 in today’s money) 

26       John Bloom’s Rolls Domestic Products: labour saving domestic appliances, such washing machines, became available at a price that was within reach of the working class   

27                 Formica: Formica kitchens were all the rage as was…

28                 Bri-Nylon: the very first full page colour advert in the Sunday Times colour  supplement  was for a Bri-Nylon carpet

29                 11 plus examinations: still separated children into grammar school and secondary modern – but the call for a comprehensive review was beginning to gather momentum

30                 Satire:‘Private Eye’ magazine began life as a silly jokes publication with cartoons – a sort of alternative punch and …

31                 Millicent Martin: had us humming  along to the signature tune of a newly launched satirical TV review of the week ,‘That Was The Week That Was’ – or ‘TW3’ – presented by David Frost, produced by Ned Sherrin and scripted by John Cleese, Peter Cook and Roald Dahl, to name but a few

32              Transistor Radios: prices dropped dramatically for the most popular electronic communication device in history, and for the first time people could listen to music wherever they went   

33                 Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman: invited ‘Pop Pickers’ to join him in a new weekly chart countdown show, on the Light Programme – just about the only contemporary Pop Music programme to be aired by the BBC – ‘All right? Stay bright! – Not arf!’  

34                 Acker Bilk: the bearded jazz clarinetist, in the bowler hat, had the best-selling single of the year with  ‘Stranger on the Shore’

35                 The Beatles: famously turned down by Decca Records, released their first single, ‘Love Me Do’, on the Parlophone label – and the rest as they say is history

36                 The Twist: the first world-wide dance craze was led by Chubby Checker who won a Grammy Award for ‘Let’s Twist Again’ – Best Rock & Roll Recording!

37                 Telstar:  became the 1st communications satellite intended for regular service – relaying TV signals from North America to Europe. A  pop tune of the same name, by the Tornadoes, became the 1st and only instrumental to simultaneously  top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic  

38                 JFK: Jack Kennedy, was US President at the  time of the Soviet Missile Crisis, successfully negotiating the removal of USSR missiles from Cuba – the nearest the ‘super powers’ have ever came to war.

39                 Marilyn Monroe: in March, 36-year-old ‘Norma Jeane’, icon of the silver screen, won a World Film Favourite Golden Globe, by August she was dead, found lying naked in her bed with an empty bottle of sleeping pills by her side

40                 James Bond: ‘Dr No’, the first Bond film, was released starring Sean Connery as 007, with Ursula Andress striding out of the ocean, in a white bikini, and into popular cinematic history   

41                 ‘Lawrence of Arabia’: starring Peter O’Toole in the title role was ‘blockbuster’ of the year, winning 7 Oscars, including ‘Best Film’, but Gregory Peck stole ‘Best Actor’, as Atticus, in the highly acclaimed film version of Harper Lee’s classic novel ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’.      

42                 DH Lawrence: the indecency ban on the controversial 1928 novel ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ was finally lifted and schoolboys across the nation searched between its paperback covers for the ‘dirty bits’, without really knowing what they were looking for!

43                 Ground-breaking novels: ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ was published by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, raising global awareness of  the Soviet Union’s forced labour camp system, while in the ‘land of the free’ Ken Kesey’s ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, set in an asylum, raised questions about the institutional process and the human mind

44           32 Campbell’s Soup Cans : the humble soup can was immortalised  by pop-artist Andy Warhol, using a semi-mechanised silkscreen process   

45           Concorde: Britain and France signed an agreement to develop the world’s first supersonic airliner

46          ‘Nike’: Phil Knight developed the first Nike running shoe

47     Stirling Moss:  retired from Formula 1 racing after a crash left him in a coma for a month and partially paralysed for 6 months. He raced to 16 Grand Prix wins and was runner-up in the driver’s championship on 3 consecutive occasions. For years thereafter anybody picked up by the police, for exceeding the speed limit, would be greeted with the line, ‘Who do you think you are then– Stirling Moss?’

48                 The Football World Cup:  was held in Chile and won by Brazil who beat Czechoslovakia  3-1 in the final (without their star player – Pele)

49                 Eusebio: Lisbon side Benfica beat Real Madrid 5-3 in the European Cup Final. Eusebio scored 2 goals launching himself as a European rival to Pele, for the title of  best footballer in the world  

50               Ipswich Town: won the Football League Championship for the only time in their history, managed by Alf Ramsey (who would later lead England to 1966 World Cup glory), while Tottenham Hotspur won the FA Cup Final for the second consecutive year, beating Burnley 3-1, with goals by Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith, and a penalty by captain Danny Blanchflower.

And that was the year that was 1962.




One response

7 02 2012

One of your best. I enjoy nostalgia, and will reread your list of 50 memories, several times, all of which strike a chord. Well done.

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