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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Sex, drugs and hype

1960s - TIME OF SOCIAL CHANGE

Christine Keeler

The 1960s saw massive shifts in cultural attitudes. In 1961 polite society was shocked by cabinet minister John Profumo's affair.

a comparison of long and short skirt sizes

Eyebrows were raised as hemlines went up. Contraceptives became available, and abortion and homosexuality were legalised.

three men

The formerly rigid social structures began to break down, as 'meritocracy' became a social phenomenon.

a ship at sea

Pirate radio forced the authorities to cater for the hunger for pop music. In 1967 the BBC launched Radio One.

an anti-Vietnam demonstration in Grosvenor Square.

And youth had become more politicised - the anti-Vietnam demonstrations in 1968 being just one example.

1 of 5
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started last week with the 1950s, which means we now have the decade you voted (see below) as the one you would most like to live in.

After the post-war hardship and the belt-tightening of the 1950s, there was a feeling that anything was possible in the 60s.

Britain entered a golden age of heady optimism, so the story goes, and Harold Wilson hailed the dawn of the classless society.

But did the decade live up to expectations? Was it really that good or has the media hyped up its achievements?

Here is a selection of your comments.


Vote
I remember flower power - going into the garden and picking my dad's sweet peas and other flowers and intertwining them in my long hair. This happened every day - throughout the summer of 1967. Oh the music was so good, the whole peace movement was inspiring - and we felt so optimistic - we could change the world. I feel so privileged to have lived through those times, and being in my teens it made lasting impressions on me. Now I am a grandmother of three boys - I just wish they could experience what we did back then. Yes the world was such a better place - or am I still wearing those sixties rose-tinted glasses?
Sue Oates, Southampton

This surely was the decade of the greatest contrasts. It began as an extension of what I remember as the austere 50s and ended totally transformed - the so-called "permissive society" had arrived. It was a good decade in which to become a teenager, as I did. No longer were we girls required to dress as copies of our mothers, but could develop as individuals, able to think for ourselves, dress how we liked and do as we pleased (well, within reason anyway). "My Generation", as epitomised by The Who, seemed to have it all to look forward to. We have mellowed now, of course, most of us, but I look back on the 60s as a defining decade, a time where everything seemed new, fresh and possible. Hindsight and maturity may cast a different light on it all now, but how privileged we felt to be part of the Swinging Sixties - Carnaby Street, mini-skirts and, not least, the summer of love!
Priscilla Appelbe, Altrincham, UK

Kevin Upton in 1960
One of the most obvious symbols of disappearing class barriers in the 60s was the large-scale combining of public house saloon and public bars. This was a dramatic sociological leap. No longer were the 'lower orders' forced to 'know their place' - not in those terms anyway.
Kevin Upton, today
In the wider world, a new confidence arose and the country now became forward-looking, optimistic, not clinging to its past. It was a whole new world, an exciting, happier one.
Kevin Upton, Reading (pictured, right, in 1960 and now)

I was sitting in my study at boarding school one evening when someone charged along the corridor outside - its many loose flagstones booming under his feet - yelling out: 'There's this great new group!' It was if we were under siege and he were announcing the arrival of a relief force. He was referring to the Beatles. I returned to my headphones, to Schubert, and a happy life of being out of step.
John Landaw, Banbury

Happy days? I suppose so. Innocent times for me as I was too young to fully appreciate most of what was shocking "the older generation" during that decade. Would I go back? No. We've never had it so good as now and I'm glad my own 16-year old son is growing up in the 21st Century.
Stephen Malbon, Stone, Staffordshire

I left school as a real wimp in June 1962 and from October 1962 lived away from home in Liverpool where I was an undergraduate at the university. What perfect timing! My whole world changed. About six weeks after arriving in Liverpool, wet behind the ears, I was at the Silver Blades ice rink and heard Love Me Do playing over the PA. I knew immediately this was very, very different. The rest of the decade was a complete revolution: Profumo scandal, Beatles, Stones, "different cigarettes", mini-skirts, sex, Vietnam, King's Rd., Carnaby St. and... did I say "mini-skirts"?
Roy Gardiner, Everett, WA, USA

As a decade it really changed after about 1963. I guess the first three years of the 60s were like the end of the 50s - then the social/sexual revolution kicked in and made the later years of the decade very different indeed - shading into the early 70s.
Iain Sankey, London, UK

It was supposed to be the decade of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll but for most of us pregnancy before marriage was still considered shocking and there were still plenty of shotgun weddings.
Marguerite Phillips, Bristol

Kay Harris
I remember the 60s very well, it was the decade I grew up in. In 1969 I was a hippy and drove my parents mad because I refused to wear shoes at all. Hippy, floppy hat with a long chiffon scarf tied to it, bell bottoms and see-through blouses, mini-skirts so short you had to bend at the knees rather than bend over. Then there were the skinheads with their Harrington jackets with tartan lining a must, and Doc Martens. The wet-look material for dresses and bikinis and clogs and platform shoes... marvellous... the music was fantastic, especially Motown, ska and bluebeat and to finish it off Atlantic Soul, Otis Redding's Champagne and Wine a real classic. TV sitcoms such as Love Thy Neighbour and On The Buses were an absolute must on our black and white TV.
Kay, Bracknell, England

1967: Girls temping got nine shillings an hour before tax; needed a male guarantor to get credit. Not much swinging.
Jaki, London

YOUR 60s MEMORIES
I was a child in the 60s - born in 1957 - and lived a life of very ordinary happiness. Both parents stayed happily married, Dad went out to work, Mum stayed at home, I was one of three children in a semi on a new housing estate in Sussex. It seemed very modern at the time - I remember the excitement of colour TV, the advent of BBC Two, watching the moon landings and how much we loved the Beatles. Food was simple, home-cooked and ordinary and the greatest thrill of my childhood was going abroad on holiday for the first time in 1966 to Sardinia which was unimaginably exotic. We weren't all grooving and taking drugs but there was a sense of cheery optimism and great thankfulness that we were in a land of plenty, probably because my parents had lived through the war years and knew how fortunate we were. It was a simpler time because we had less and there were fewer choices to make than there are today.
Annie Green, Menston, West Yorkshire, England

I grew up in Croydon, Surrey, and left school in 1961. I had a Beatle haircut - not an Elvis - and wore a pinstripe Italian jacket, shirt and winklepicker shoes. My friends and I played three games of amateur football at the weekends. With bored girlfriends we went for three half-pints of beer each on a Friday or Sat night in town pubs and then a bus home to New Addington. The pill was still a long way off and we were mostly virgin lads. I was 17 and happy.
Frank Hurley, Glasgow

I'm so glad I was a teenager in the mid 60s. What an exciting time, Carnaby Street, Biba, Twiggy, Tamla Mowtown and all those mod boys. Fashion today is a replica of days gone by. The only thing missing was mobiles, computers and iPods, but did we need them? No. Life was exciting and I look back and would not change those days to be a teenager now. Thank you 60s.
Lesley Burton, Chigwell

The 60s is always portrayed mistakenly as the decade of hedonism when, in truth, it was much more the decade of commitment. Forget the free love, the way-out clothes, the hair. They were the superficial externals played up by the media. The strength of the younger generation, the 20somethings, was that they took on every problem from apartheid to xenophobia and tried to batter through a solution to all of them.
The Beatles, 1967
All you need is love
The methods were sometimes ineffective, the results were often inconclusive and yet this generation changed many things forever. Human rights did not exist as a concept before this generation got going with Amnesty International. Nobody questioned the righteousness of any war before this generation sickened everyone with the bodybags and the coffins returning from Vietnam. Nobody gave women equal billing or consideration before the Women's Movement got going. Blacks, immigrants, gays and all the others on the margins of society, whatever little ground they may have gained today, they started with the support and help of the younger generation of the 60s. The pity is that so many of that generation are now in positions of leadership and management but instead of using their positions to carry out the betterment they sought as young people, they have given up and now trade what were their ideals for approval and integration.
Anne Usher, Argentina

The Rolling Stones were the absolute best and such 'racket', as my mother called it, opened up a further adventure for me, the little coffee bar/club where we all went and spent entire days at weekends and during holidays, just sitting around, drinking coca cola and falling in love with rock stars.
Marie Fullerton now
They said that if you put an aspirin into coke and drank it through a straw, it would make you feel drunk. I never found out, I was too afraid something bad would happen but because we all hung around 'The Happening' in St Leonards,we were all tarred with the same brush... junkies. I was really angry with my mother for that because I have never been involved with any drugs in my life. Then, of course the ultimate happened. FLOWER POWER. Oh wow! that was me, my scruffy clothes became acceptable and I wore flowers, bells and beads. Donovan became my hero, although I am sure it should have been Bob Dylan. Joan Biaz was just fantastic along with all the other protest songs and folk music.
Marie Fullerton then
My favourites were the Irish songs like 'The Black Velvet Band' which gave me such imagery to escape with. It was during those times when I tried to get my brothers to sing and make up our own songs... A budding folk star with a backing group. It never happened then but today two of my brothers have their own band and do perform Blues and Swing. We never had TV at home and I only saw snatches on my grandparents black and white TV. A real treat was to watch Top of the Pops as we listened to our grandparents tutting at 'young people today'.
Marie Fullerton, Gosport UK

I was born and grew up in Oldham and left to come to London in 1966. Having enjoyed my early and mid teens up North, which wasn't all bad as the Beatles and The Hollies were northern groups, London was amazing to me. The swinging had just started and I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I had come to London to work in the Savoy as a chef and I loved every moment. I lived in Bloomsbury and walked down through Covent Garden every morning, it was like being on the set of My Fair Lady or Oliver. I bought my clothes in Carnaby Street and the Kings Road. Every day was an event, famous names at the Savoy, the latest Beatles album, concerts and mini skirts. I left catering in 1968 shortly after I met my first wife and led rather a hippy existence thereafter, but those first few years in London in the Sixties were the stuff of dreams.
John Bell, London

I was a teenager in the 1960s and it was a magical time - in fact the word teenager had just been invented! We had our own fashion, hairstyles and most important of all music. I'm sure my parents wondered what had possessed me as I paraded around in my mini-skirt, skinny rib jumper, sheer tights, Biba boots & boa, sporting my daring Vidal Sassoon haircut (geometric cut meant I couldn't see out of my right eye!) and dashed out to my pride and joy (blue Mini Cooper) and raced of to the nearest all-night party. This may sound far-fetched but believe me this really was how I spent much of the 60s!!
Val Soanes, Sidcup, Kent, UK

Richard Marshall today
As a post-war baby growing up in London with the greyness of post-war austerity and rationing that lasted until the mid-50s, the 60s were vibrant. Going to see this pretty good band, called The Rolling Stones, playing in the pubs and clubs of Richmond was a regular treat as was seeing other R & B acts in Richmond, Teddington, etc. many of whom were later to become world famous.
Richard Marshall in 1968
The coffee bars of Richmond and Chelsea's Kings Road, wonderfully decorated with young women in their mini-skirts provided many an enjoyable evening. Being able to play chess for modest money stakes in the cafes of the Earls Court Road enabled one to eke out cash. Above all it was a period when Britain raised its head and realised that life could be fun.
Richard (pictured right in 1968 and today), Montpon, France

I began the 60s still in secondary school. I ended the 60s leaving my parents home and beginning a new phase in my life living in a flat in Cardiff. During this decade, as a young man, I new something different was going on. Girls wearing short skirts, boys wearing long hair. Pop music on the radio and TV has a beat which you can easily dance to. It was a time when you felt optimistic about life. Anything was possible. Driving your own car, going to the moon, making lots of money, changing the world to make it more fair and caring.
John Fletcher, Swansea

The most exciting part of the 60s was hearing each new Beatles song on release. What new sound was on the new single, like the guitar chord at the beginning of I Feel Fine as only one example. Going into school the following day, talking about it, the excitement was amazing and will never be repeated.
Alan Mitchell, Elderslie

In 1963 my first real notice of 'pop' music came with the Beatles phenomena. We heard all their songs when we 'danced' in the gym during wet dinnertime breaks. And the other Mersey beat groups were only slightly less popular.
Anne Wilson, Bolton, Lancs, England

The 60s for me started very prim and proper -before the Beatles, before flower power, before LSD and Timothy Leary. Women were nearly all virgins when they married - illegitimate children were shunned and labelled. The end of the Sixties I shared a flat with three other girls (yes... not women, no pc here)...it was a life of endless parties, free love and the pill. Smoky pubs and clubs, smoky parties with Tamla Motown playing in the background. Anorexia was never mentioned, overweight people were hardly ever seen. Size 12 was a 24" waist which I and most of my friends were then. No young women were more than a size 14 and nobody found that unusual - in fact we never mentioned weight at all. We walked everywhere within reason. We all smoked like chimneys because the link with lung cancer et al was not publicised. Unmarried women were regarded as somehow odd - most were looking for Mr Right as he was called. The term "career woman" meant some unattractive oddity who had to resort to keeping herself How times have changed!
Thomas

I feel now that I was lucky to live in such relaxed and optimistic times. True the Cold War was on and we were all scared of the bomb and Russians, but it was a remote fear. My parents had met in the RAF and my understanding of WW2 was quite good, but they didn't indoctrinate and didn't hate the Germans (there was still a lot of anti-German feeling then). We were a church-going family and it was an enjoyable part of our social life, without it seemingly suppressing any liberal tendencies. I never felt under pressure to perform - either because I was naturally compliant or just because my education, in particular, was of such a high quality and in such a conducive atmosphere, that I didn't notice how well I was doing. (My children have not had it nearly so easy.) Then in 1969 I went off to university and the whole scene changed as the 70s dawned and I entered the world of work.
David Jackman, Bedford

We found Twiggy on the front of all the mags and on the billboards with her lovely big doe eyes, skinny body and 'very' mini dresses. I did eventually get on to the mini but became a 'mod' first, my boyfriend had a Lambretta and we used to go to the dane halls in London on it. You had to chain all the chrome accessories on to them as they were unscrewed and stolen. I am very happy that I was part of the 60s revolution and am even more happy to be a nanny that doesn't have grey hair (well you can't see it) or doesn't worry too much about cleaning and ironing. During the 1960s we had a lot of 'shotgun weddings' as birth control wasn't discussed at home or school, how times have changed.
Linda Trowbridge, Redbourn, Hertfordshire UK

The Swinging Sixties were a long time in arriving in Doncaster and as one of the few teenagers to have long hair from 1964 onwards, I endured many taunts and comments. However, the bravest thing I ever did was to wear a cloak on a Corporation bus when going on a date in 1967. The 60s was a splendid decade of awakening, but the scars of the time - inner ring roads and concrete slab constructions in place of fine old buildings - still remain in this and other towns.
Paul Nelson, Doncaster, now Cambridge

It started with new and exciting music entering the decade for me as a 15-year-old. We had to listen to it using headphones and Radio Luxembourg late at night, Sunday night was the best with a Top 20 countdown. Black-and-white TV had good plays and serials with proper story lines. Doctor Who and Susan introduced the Daleks on our small TV. College was exciting and I had a grant of 12 per term (very small for survival) but rent was 1.10s
Lawrence Harris, Southampton

The 60s for me was mainly a time of being constantly excited by events, fashion, boys and music. It was also a time of being utterly frustrated by my lack of funds, as having no money meant I couldn't join in with a lot of the happenings going on locally. I can remember sitting outside the Trade Union Hall in Watford, with my friend, listening to The Who rehearsing for their gig there the next night, knowing I wasn't able to afford the 7/6d ticket price which would actually get me inside to see them.
Shelley Phillips, St Albans

1961 and there I was living at home in central west London. An over-ambitious teenager with access to tremendous parties, a determination to acquire the latest trends in clothing and a loathing of the Mods, their customized Vespas, their musical fancies and drugs-de-jour. I wanted to be a respectable rocker with the raucous music that went with them. Military uniforms from Portobello Road, Chelsea boots from Kensington High Street and theatrical full-height suede boots from Anello & Davide in Soho. Poseurs, all of us. I recall going to a Gene Vincent concert in Hammersmith and thinking it was fantastic. I had a girl-friend who had access to the absolute best seats for the Beatles concerts. Those were the days when the Yardbirds opened the concert. Yes. They were good times.
Alexander Mathieson, Lyndhurst, Ohio, USA

I was starting grammar school at the start of the 60s and at university at the end. What a great time to be young and English! We were some of the first 'teenagers' with music and fashion targeted just at us and not our parents! I remember someone used to rush out to buy the latest Beatles' LP. We'd spend hours listening until we knew the words of each track. Listening to Radio Luxembourg and then pirate radio stations under the bed covers at night. Taping Alan Freeman-on reel to reel tape of course - playing the Top Twenty on 'Pick of the Pops'. 60s music so dominated our lives outside school that even today my wife and I can reel off the lyrics of most hits from that time. Watching the first Age of Rock on BBC One last Saturday about Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Who, The Beatles brought it all back. Other memories: Going to parties at people's houses and snogging in the dark, taking first dates to early James Bond films at cinemas with double seats - where have they gone? The 60s - fantastic times!
John Collier, Collingham, near Wetherby, England

Being a student at Hull University from 1966 to 1969; seeing the hippies sitting on the grass on many occasions and wishing I was one but not having any idea how to become one.
Pam Laurance, London

Seeing the Beatles at the Gaumont in Southampton and screaming at George. Going to bed with my hair in huge rollers. Soaking my net petticoats overnight in sugar water to make them stiff. Being worried because I was thin when it was fashionable to be curvy. Discovering tights!
Ruth Woolven, Witney, Oxfordshire

White fishnet stockings, beehive hairdos that required tons of hairspray, eyes outlined in black to look like cats, the twist, go-go dancing, 45rpm records, and transistor radios were some of the entertaining aspects of the era. My dad owned an electronic store during the 60s so my sister and I got all the top hits as soon as they were released which made us very popular at school. The Cuban crisis was very frightening and boys in my class were preparing to go into the service, if it was required. Suddenly in all our eyes, they were no longer boys, but young daring men.
Susan Caroline Periano, Topsham

By 1967 I was 15 and following the Summer of Love with interest, though not quite old enough to fully participate. Everyone at school either had, or wanted, long hair. It was forbidden, of course, under pain of having it unceremoniously shorn at the local barber's, but people found ways around the rules. One boy I remember had grown shoulder-length hair which he disguised with an elaborate scarf arrangement all week at school, then triumphantly revealed at the weekend. The school (a bastion of middle-class values) was finally defeated in the hair wars by the arrival of the skinhead movement. Boys with skinhead haircuts simply couldn't be forced to grow their hair again overnight. We may have been just a bit too young, but we knew we still had all that rock'n roll, drugs and sex yet to come, and it could only get better. Today, just a whiff of patchouli oil is enough to take me back.
Clive Gulliver, Sydney

Although I was only a child in the 1960s, I have very vivid memories of that period, particularly the music, since I had a brother who was six years older than me. I heard all the 60s music from early Cliff Richard and The Shadows, through all The Beatles' hits, right through to the imaginative underground music of the early Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Mothers of Invention and the "world folk music" sound of Edinburgh's Incredible String Band. I wouldn't have wished to grow up in any other decade as there was always something exciting happening and there has never been, either before or since, in the history of the world, so much new talent and imagination flowering at one time.
Peter G Mackie, Edinburgh

It was the decade I left school, graduated from Teacher Training College and started work. No Gap Years for us! It was also the time when my friends and I bought and made our own fashions. For about the first time since the age of 13 we didn't all look like our mothers! For the first time, money in my pocket, films, music, books, magazines aimed at people like me. Oh those white plastic Mary Quant-style boots, the mini-skirt and those blue, mottled thighs! Well, I was in wet and windy Aberdeen at the time and I wouldn't want to change a minute of it.
Lorna Westcott, Boutenac/France

I got engaged in 66 and married in 68. Unlike our parents, as newly-weds we were able to buy our own house, although only the husband's salary was taken into consideration when applying for a mortgage. The building society committee met once a month to consider applications - no instant applications like today. Credit was also something frowned on. My mother used to call it the 'glad and sorry'. Glad you've got it, sorry you've got to pay for it. Everyone I knew saved for what they wanted. Our social lives as young marrieds were quite tame by today's standards. A local village dance/disco on Fridays, out for drinks and a steak (at the local Berni) on Saturdays. There were no drink driving laws, but then cars were less powerful and the boy racer had yet to arrive. We would drive down into Somerset and find good pubs for a drink, then drive back over the border into Wiltshire at 10.30 where the closing time was half an hour later.
Audrey Hawkins, Bath

Swinging Sixties... free love... not for the ordinary folk. My overriding memory of that decade is of one Friday night waiting for my dad to go to bed so I could break the news to my mum that I was "expecting". Not good news because not only was I unmarried, I was still at school. About to leave, admittedly, having just sat 'A' levels. I'd already been to the offices of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child (whatever happened to them?) and been told of the help available to me. I would go to live with a family as a mother's help, then into a mother and baby home until my baby was born. Six weeks later, adoptive parents would have been found. That was the easy part. Telling mum and dad was different. Mum's initial reaction, "Your life is ruined now", was soon replaced by help and support both emotional and financial. I had to pay for my accommodation at the home and there were few benefits to cover people like me. When my baby was born, I had the most overwhelming sense of love for my child and knew I could not give her up. When I told mum, she reminded me that would mean never being able to return to my home village. The council didn't give accommodation to single teenage mothers so the adoption went ahead. I can still recall the morning in February 1967 when I watched my six-week-old daughter leave in a car to meet her new parents.
Patricia Bailey, Stroud, England

Twiggy
Sixties icons still sell today
I was there in the 60s having been born in 1952. I was a mod, I had a long leather coat, I shopped at Biba. I dabbled in drugs, I wore a bell round my neck, I wore pop art and Quant. The Beatles were everything. I mourned Otis Redding. The sun always shone - I wanted to go to the Isle of Wight, I envied Woodstock, I went to Eel Pie Island. I was there in the 60s!
SAS, High Wycombe

I was born in 1949, my family was mixed race. In those days we were known as half-castes. It was very difficult to find work due to my race/colour. Once I applied for a job at a very well known "clothier" who rented suits and dresses for all occasions; The man who interviewed me made it very clear that they could not hire a "person of colour" as their clients were mainly from the gentry. That was the epitome of the 60s. Where were the black footballers/sportsmen/women? Carnaby Street was in the news then too, but no black salespeople. Black American music was played on the radio and the TV and the artists were revered by those who enjoyed "soul music" they came to perform in concerts across the U.K. and were generally well received. But for the homegrown second and third generation West Indians (like me) or Africans, it was a different scenario.
Alan David Pena, Brussels

The 60s mean more to me now than they did then. As a teenager I don't think I appreciated how pivotal that decade was. For the first time, we really weren't going to be like our parents. We had freedoms they couldn't imagine. Britain was the centre of the music world and the sports world with the 1966 World Cup victory. We had flower power, anti-war protests, hippies, mini skirts, and, thank God, the pill! I also remember the I'm backing Britain slogan, with the Union Jack on almost everything you could buy. Mostly I remember the sense that nothing seemed taboo. There was the attitude that if no-one got hurt it was OK.
Dee Dee, Connecticut

I was living in Birmingham in the 1960's. Money went a lot further than it does now. Half a crown pocket money. The Beano and Dandy were 2d. Schools were stricter too. I joined the Cliff Richard fan club then went off him and on to Dave Clark Five (I still have their autographs.) You had to be 15 years and three months before you could work - which I did in 1967 - on Saturdays in Woolworths when there were two to a counter and we tested every light-bulb that we sold. Then I could buy clothes from C&A where everyone went to keep in fashion. I remember my crimson flared hipsters at 19/11d. Flower power was in so I made my own orange flowered dress by hand as I wasn't allowed to use a sewing machine. Tent dresses appeared in 1968, and zips with big rings on. In 1969 I bought a Mick Jagger poster for 8/6d. It sold, at Christies, in 1996 for 190.
Jill Wyman, Bournemouth

I left in 1965. I was part of an emigration wave that was leaving the UK for the excitement of faraway places, mostly Australia, to which a family could go for only 20, door to door. It seemed as though everyone was leaving for a while. Taxes were touted as being lower in the new countries, and opportunities greater. It was the 60s when the UK signalled to the Commonwealth that its future was in Europe and the Commonwealth started to adjust. What was left of the Empire was hastily returned to their original inhabitants with only a few outposts left. I remember the excitement of Carnaby St and the Beatles, as well as the Beatles clone groups that sprung up. It was the only time in history when a northern accent was "in". It was a decade when seemingly everything started at once.
Gordon Jackson, Canada

The weekend starts here - early Friday evening Ready Steady Go transported us teenagers out of a world where school uniform was what you wore as your Sunday best (caps for boys). It was a window out of suburban dreariness and conformity. By the late 60s things would never be the same as young people questioned the social order and authority's assumptions.
Julian Baker, Sheffield, but Croydon in 1960s

A brilliant decade where I went from five years old to 15 years old, during which time the "pop" era really took off with the Shadows, Beatles etc and many kids like me learnt the guitar simply by listening to their records and working out the chords yourself. The only downside was the advent of the "skinhead" in the late sixties which made some school life hell... and these were kids who had high academic ability, but still found it amusing to beat fellow pupils up... crazy... I wonder where they are now?
Chris, Orsett, Essex

After the austerity of the 40s and 50s, the 60s offered hope and optimism. As a young man of 18 in London at the beginning of the 60s the promise of greater opportunity was realised by a plentiful supply of jobs. Growing prosperity was evidenced by the availability of affordable luxuries - cars, motor bikes, record players, tape recorders, modern fashions etc, must-haves for young people. Other important influences were a less censored media and entertainment industry, the cult of the personality and the advent of cheap foreign travel. Liberal attitudes to morality, relationships and lifestyles were growing. People were beginning to question established views on class, behaviour and authority and women began playing a more confident and influencial role in society following the introduction of the oral contraceptive. All this was set against an unstable international scenario - the cold war, JFK assassination, Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis and turmoil in the Middle East.
Tony, Thorpe Bay, Essex. England

The Sixties are often considered as the time when the Pill gave women control over their own bodies and ushered in sexual liberation. My memory, however, was that the establishment fought a powerful rearguard action for much of the decade to hold onto 'traditional' values. I think that at least until about 1965 or 1966, doctors were only allowed to prescribe oral contraceptives to married and engaged women. This, of course, led to large numbers of unwanted pregnancies. The Abortion Act only went onto the Statute Book in 1967, when the decade was two-thirds over.
Peter Lewis, Geneva, Switzerland




SEE ALSO
Your 1960s: Life at home
31 May 07 |  Magazine
Your 1960s: Holidays
31 May 07 |  Magazine


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