Jubilee – it’s a shiny word, isn’t it? A happy, celebratory, ‘why don’t we all get together and let our hair down?’ sort of a word. I expect it’s a word the Queen of England is pretty enamoured of at present, what with having experienced days – weeks really – of witnessing just how fond of her many British and Commonwealth citizens truly are. For me, the word ‘jubilee’ evokes a long ago summer, the summer of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. The summer of 1977. If the past is like a foreign country then the Britain of 1977 ought to appear a markedly different land from the sophisticated standpoint of the 21st century. And it’s true that some technologies and certain cultural ephemera have been transformed in the meantime but I am nevertheless drawn to the similarities between then and now, both on a national and a personal scale.
Nationally some unions in 1977 were threatening and indeed enacting strike action in protest at governmental cutbacks/pay deals/privatisation of their particular industry. In 2012 strikes are somewhat back in vogue after something of a hiatus in the post-Thatcher years. All that’s changed is the specific unions taking strike action. Grumbling about government policy seems an evergreen occupation.In sport, Liverpool football club lost the F.A. Cup final 2-1 to Manchester United in 1977. 2012 saw Liverpool lose the F.A. Cup final 2-1, to Chelsea this time. Chelsea also ensured a British success in the Champion’s League this year, beating a German side in the final. In 1977 it was, symmetrically enough, Liverpool who won the Champion’s Cup, beating a German side in the final.Politically the government were under fire in 1977 and not just from the unions. Unemployment was high, inflation was high, fuel prices were causing apoplexy amongst drivers and the leading party in the House of Commons needed to bolster its small majority by doing a deal with the Liberal Party. Déjà vu, anyone?Perhaps it is little wonder that with so many parallels between the Queen’s Silver and Diamond Jubilee years that I find myself reflecting on my own experiences of 1977.
Being a man of less than average height I was hardly any shorter as a child than I am now, which means I saw the world from almost exactly the same vertical position. 1977 was the year my parents divorced: not a tragedy as I find it barely credible they ever found enough in common to marry in the first place. 2012 is the year my own divorce should be sorted out: again not a tragedy as I find it barely credible that we ever found enough in common to marry in the first place.My favourite television programme in 1977 was Doctor Who, the Silver Jubilee incumbent in the Tardis being Tom Baker, one of my all-time favourite Doctors. I no longer own a television but I feed my addiction for my favourite television programme via DVDS. That programme? Doctor Who, of course, the Diamond Jubilee incumbent in the Tardis being Matt Smith, already one of my all-time favourite Doctors.Any spare time in 1977 was often taken up with my scribbling poems and stories down on random pieces of paper and in exercise books. Well hit me with a pencil and call me Emily Dickinson if 2012 doesn’t continue to see me engaged in the same practice in my free time. I still have the same amount of limbs as I had 35 years ago. I continue to supply my body with nourishment by throwing food items down the oval hole in my face. I’m still called the same name…hang on a minute. This isn’t 2012. They’ve simply recycled 1977 to save on money and changed a few names to protect the innocent, the cheapskates. Right that’s it, I’m going on strike.