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We’re going back to the 70s!

Energy crisis? Empty shelves? Failing services? The 1970s have been unfairly compared to Brexit Britain avers Colin Montgomery


You know the shit is hitting the fan when the shrill invocation WE’RE GOING BACK TO THE 70s hits the Airwaves/Twitter sphere and squawking columnist land. The Cassandra Complex in six simple words.

In this case, we choose to believe the gloomy auguries and plough on unthinkingly. As though resigned to endure more of this absurd circus of incompetence, with clowns to the left of us and jokers to the right (™Robert Zimmerman) and some total twats hovering around the middle as well frankly.

So deeply engrained is this tabloid shorthand for disaster in the UK that it never fails to resonate. The politics of the narrative is transparently inane yet, unbelievably, still seductive – mostly in the true blue shires and the idiot enclaves of the so-called Red Wall.

So much so, I can’t bring myself to drip poison about it. Note to self:I must have my fangs de-plugged.

For practitioners of fear, the old 70s trope is a winner, because, like some hysterical Russian doll, you getgazillion tropes for the price of one

Yes kids, ‘Back to the 70s’ where catastrophes are never ending: Rats in the street, public services crumbling, food shortages, power cuts, debt, excessively bushy pubic hair… the list of iconic (or ironic) challenges goes on and on.

Then again, maybe I just don’t “believe in Britain enough” or some other faux patriotic manure. There’s a definite whiff these days.

“Where is all this cynicism leading?” I hear you snarl, in the manner of Johnny Rotten – although, like Morrisey, the current manifestation of Mr Rotten has gone, well, decidedly rotten.

He’s now a cheerleader for confidence tricks wrapped in the union flag. I mean what the hell happened… was there an actual National Front Disco one night? Did they end up pissed on cheap cider and black? Maybe Mosley’s ghost turned up and spiked their drinks. Whatever happened, it made them morons, potential H-bombs.

Where was I? Oh yes, ‘where is at all leading?’ Well, for a start, nobody’s doing any leading, even in Scotland. Events are shaping us, not the other way around.

And before any Scot Nats want to pick a fight… just don’t.

Only tribalists reject self-critique, self-analysis or any kind of scrutiny of your own side’s position/track record/utterances versus reality.

Which is as bad as the Brexiters who refused to discuss the negatives before the vote, and are now in complete denial of any negative fall-out from it. Not a good template for IndyRef2.

I’m sure the Editor doesn’t wish to attract hate mail, so I’ll move on from such contentious ground and tiptoe back in time to the 1970s.

I want to make the case for the defence of that much-maligned era of discontent.

In truth it was more disco than discontent. Try reading Andy Beckett’s When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the 70s a fantastic myth-busting social history.

For now - given this is a magazine you read in a pub/on the loo/in a pub loo and not a lecture theatre - I’ll restrict myself to some fond recollections of reasons to embrace a 70s revival. Why not eh? We’re all being forced to change our habits, reset our expectations and generally come to terms with the truth that we shat the bed and left someone else to clean up the mess.


Not an acid trip, I have in mind here Dunlop whose Green Flash were a humble icon back then. Nobody understood how cool they would become – or rather became.

For a while, snagging a pair of the originals from Aitken & Niven on George Street was the ultimate in retro one-upmanship. I was an early (or should that be late?) adopter in 1993. But by then, the herd were restless. And the next thing you know, like charity shops, the Green Flash embraced its retro power and became self-aware. Such lost innocence.

Attention span

When all you had to do was ride a bike to the edge of an estate and watch the wind whistle through a grass verge, it tended to improve your powers of concentration. Being bored by not having constant communication and ‘entertainment’ in a wee box in your pocket was actually good for you. If you wanted to find something out, you read a book. Laborious, yes, but by God it gave you focus. These days, people can’t concentrate long enough to have a shit.

House prices

It’s been said that, pound for pound, it was more expensive to eat out than buy a house in the 70s. Perhaps not, but property was actually more affordable back then. Today, shy of winning the Lotto, taking a shooter to a building society (they don’t do cash anymore anyway), robbing a granny who’s at death’s door, or whacking it all on a 200-1 shot in the National and lucking out, you’ll be lucky to save up enough for a Wendy House – another 70s classic.


Deep maaan? Nah. Just the blunt reality that although the 70s was a time of oil crises, it also saw the first signs of a serious realisation that we were royally pumped if we didn’t take the whole environmentalism thing a bit more seriously.

Sadly, it never caught on properly. And we are where we are. Maybe if we had the time they had back then right now, our coat wouldn’t be on such a shoogly peg. Someone call Tom Baker. We really need a Tardis.

It’s been said that, pound for pound, it was more expensive to eat out than buy a house in the 1970s



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