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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
What the 1970s meant to you
James Callaghan
It wasn't all about politics...
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s and the 1960s and now focus on the 70s.

It was the decade of strikes, electricity shortages and piles of rotting rubbish on the street.

But your hundreds of e-mails show there was much more to the 1970s, such as music, fashion and long, hot summers.

For some of you, the decade did not conjure up one particular memory but a catalogue of different things.

Here is a selection of your thoughts about what best sums up the 70s for you.


My memories in no particular order of favourites: Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy and Ziggy Stardust. Wide leg trousers, staypress trousers, Ben Sherman checked shirts, tank tops and Cromby coats. Mods and skinheads, 10CC, decimalisation, 'O' Levels!! Hot summer of 1976 - phew!!! I was three stone lighter!!
Caroline Lloyd, Port Talbot

Dee Smith in 1971
I had my first daughter in May 1970 - after a couple of nail biting weeks watching the failed Apollo 13 return to earth, and Chelsea finally winning the Cup Final after a rematch against Leeds! I was a stay-at-home mum, as we were in those days, and my husband and I struggled to survive on £9 per week! He had just finished his apprenticeship where he had been earning £5 per week. However, we still had a Vauxhall Viva and he travelled to Heathrow Airport every day to work. I felt the IRA bomb which exploded in the Officer's Canteen in Aldershot - a mile away from the flat where we lived.
Dee Smith in 2007
Glam Rock and soul music and the end of the Beatles marked the early 1970s and the 3-day week, strikes and the Punk Rock era ended it. I was 'hip' in my flares with braces and shaggy hair cut, my husband grew sideburns and a moustache. Planes were hijacked and the IRA were a constant threat, along with the Bader Meinhoff group. We had to learn new coinage and endure higher prices. We had the Good Life, Star Trek, Morecambe and Wise, Esther Rantzen and Tomorrow's World... the 70s started with Peace and Love and ended largely in discontent. It was a decisive decade where the man in the street made himself heard.
Ms Dee Smith (right, in 1971 and now) Ashford, Middlesex, UK.

BBC Radio 1 doing the Top 20 every Sunday night was an institution in our house. Seeing Live and Let Die eight times in one year at every boy's birthday party. Dancing 20 times to Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody, aged five or six. Starsky and Hutch, clackers and their reported dangers, hula-hoop's and skateboards. "When it rains in cuts and pains". Using Beano and Dandy money to buy cigarettes. And despite being Irish, being totally insulated and unaffected by the "troubles". Our road was Catholic, Jewish and Anglican in that order, with a smattering of Quakers. Long Sunny days.....
Dermot Nolan, Oxford

WHAT WE'RE DOING
Read Andrew Marr's take on the decade in the Magazine every Tuesday
Watch his History of Modern Britain on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 2100 BST
Read and watch your written memories, pictures and videos every Friday in the Magazine
Brown nylon clothes, Red Barrel, Action Man, Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, Roger Moore as James Bond, Bruce and Anthea in The Generation Game, Liverpool winning the European Cup in Rome (1977), Draught of 1976, Power Cuts, Chopper Bikes... Happy days - the heyday of childhood! I wouldn't have wanted to grow up in any other era!!
Jason Simpson, Twickenham

This was a decade with good and bad like all others I guess. The bad included strikes, black-outs and a country on its knees. The plusses included a great music scene, long hot summers and, as a child, a carefree existence.
Steve, Swindon

Doing my homework in bed by candle-light: the three-day week. Watering the garden with (dirty) bath-water: the first hose-pipe ban. A plague of green-fly and a sea of mud: Led Zeppelin at Knebworth.
Suzy, Zürich, Switzerland

For myself, the 70s meant student life, starting work and then moving away from home to become independent - all to a background of going out and trying to enjoy myself as much as possible.
Paul Cobb
This, selfishly, meant I paid insufficient attention to political and worldwide matters, so all the miners' strikes, the power cuts with an absolute need to keep in lots of candles, the IRA bombing campaign and Princess Anne's wedding are all very hazy - and I don't think it was due to Newcastle Brown Ale, M&B Bitter or Harp Lager! Holidays to Benidorm and The Costas became ever more popular while the 70s saw the introduction of the student-targeted Inter Rail card which enabled young people to travel extensively across the European continent economically and see places their parents could only have dreamt about.
Paul Cobb, Rowley Regis, West Midlands

I vividly remember music through the whole of the punk and heavy metal thing, obviously I was in a band like most people! We may have been just ok but it was certainly fun. The Silver Jubilee, a street party, good food for a teenager and a very dodgy double drum solo, me being the dodgy part. When I moved there, London seemed quiet but then turned into a superbly vibrant place as I found more of it. At one point I had been part of the Labour Party but then there was a bigger party going on, maybe that was the step into the 80s.
David, Houston, USA

A teenager in London, what a great time it was, leaving school in 1976 at 16, getting a job in London as tea boy in a design studio, making £18 a week, becoming a member of the Wag Club on Wardour St, seeing bands every night from Rory Gallagher to 999 and Siouxsee & the Banshees and Wishbone Ash. John Peel was the Guru. 50p for a pint.....what a great life that was.
Mr Diamond, London

OTHER 1970s MEMORIES
I went to a boarding school and we were restricted to two inches of water in our baths. I also remember Concorde flying over the school and everyone stopped what they were doing to watch. The power cuts were a drag with everyone huddled around a candle or lamp. Nothing could really be done as the light was so feeble in the evenings. I do remember the Punks. I first noticed the Stranglers on Top of the Pops and thought they were OK. I never got to hear The Sex Pistols until many years later. In the early 70s I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg but soon moved over to Radio 1, especially the Sunday Chart Show. 8-track tapes came and were superseded by cassette tapes!
Steve Gibson, Manchester

1. A single minister (Patrick Jenkin) telling us to brush our teeth in the dark. 2. Living in London, we were less troubled by strikes throughout the 1970s than by IRA bombs, which actually killed people. 3. Seeing my first punks, especially those with orange or blue mohicans - fantastic! 4. As we started the 1970s by joining the property ladder, watching the value of our house rise steeply, while the cost of our mortgage tumble. In 1974 under the government's inflation policy, with a small promotion my wages actually doubled! 5. A nadir of fashion - certainly for men.
Philip Allen, Orpington, UK

The 70s were my favourite decade - due to the fact that they were my teen years. It was a different era totally from now; Life on Mars recently summed it up brilliantly. The music (Bowie, T Rex, Slade, Roxy Music) was brilliant and to this day, iconic. The androgynous fashions of the early 70s giving way to the punk era at the end of the decade. Such a great time to be a teenager, I feel sorry for those born later who missed out. The strikes and three-day weeks were fun to us, aged 14. Walking along darkened streets in groups, laughing with excitement. Hitching lifts home (as dangerous then as it is now, but somehow far more acceptable), skiving off school (no truant officers to be seen) and sitting for hours spending our lunch money in a cafe. Big bottles of cider being shared before going to the local disco. Just an exciting time, and one I look back on very fondly.
Claire, Gosport, Hants

In the summer, on the hot grassy playfield, Radio 1 ("two-four-seven-R-A-A-ADEOH") for the chart countdown on a Tuesday and the biblical, never ending tennis matches almost always featuring the hopelessly glamorous Chris Evert/Lloyd. Bliss!
Steve Howard, Norwich

Ladybirds, greenfly, melting tarmac, It's froffy man, rocket ice lollies, Bazooka Joe, Terry McDermott, May the force be with you.
Leigh Maude, Reading

Endless rain followed by endless summers, milk at school, the house being ripped apart for central heating to be fitted, power cuts, Tom Baker as Doctor Who, Parker Snorkel coats, ice cream in little tubs, Abba and ELO, Liverpool winning in Europe and James Hunt in F1. School closing because the heating packed up, hiring a car to go on holiday to Norfolk, lazy days playing cricket. Happy days.
Paul Osborne, Littlebourne, England

My dad was in the RAF and we lived in married quarters. No washing machine, mum had a mangle and we used to have our baths in the kitchen sink. Used to use the waxed paper from loaves of bread to grease the metal slide in the local park and played marbles or conkers till dark. Loved the Bay city rollers and David Soul and danced to the top 40 on Sunday nights on the radio, with occasional special treats of Starsky & Hutch.
Debbie, Reading

Decimal Day 1971.....starting my first job for Midland Bank in Alperton, Middlesex....November 1971.....power cuts, monthly pay rises...balance remittances under the light of camping GAZ lamps, using handles to operate electric adding machines. Wembley Rock & Roll Concert 31st July 1972, Chuck Berry, Gary Glitter, Screaming Lord Such, Gerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley et al breaking the security cordon and charging to centre field, this set the precedent for all future rock concerts at Wembley Stadium. Working at Midland Bank 199 Acton High Street 1976 and 1977, seeing "The Sweeney" being filmed in the street round the corner. John Thaw coming out of the newsagents... Playing cricket for the bank in New Beckenham. 1976 the long hot summer 75 c at midnight¿ unbearable humidity. IRA bombs on Tube trains... Some bad music... changing US dollars for Mick Ralphs of Bad Company...Queen at Hammersmith Odeon December 1975... so loud and so much more.
David Bates, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Powercuts, ITV on strike, testcards, no petrol, no refuse collections at all, green goddesses, standpipes... ahh those were the days! Still, we had Porridge, Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, Dr Who, Jackanory, Top of the Pops, Tomahawks, Lollygobblechocbombs and we passed the fizzicle!
Maxine Hayes, Bristol

Hot summer in 1976.. went on forever!! Queen' Jubilee, Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned et al! Sonia Heath...where are you now? Freedom, independence and just having the years before mortgages, nappies and stress. As Don Henley said later... The age of the innocence.
Noel Stretton, Paphos, Cyprus

Sir Jimmy Saville as guest of honour at Birkinshaw show - our first house that dad bought, the death of my mother, the so long summer of '76! Changing schools and the infamous high-waisters with platform shoes. The '70's is depicted as such a barren time but it certainly was not. As a kid growing up the political fall out didn't effect us per se - we just made the best of it and played in many rubbish heaps ignoring the health risk. Reminiscing it was an era of god-awful music and fashion that can only be laughed at, but it was, to us as kids, a gentler age - and certainly something to look back upon with fond memories.
W Rhodes, NB Canada

I was born in 1960 so I would remember the 70s with fondness such as listening to Motown, Carpenters, Three Degrees, Osmonds, David Cassidy, David Essex, Bay City Rollers etc. Also watching Virginia Wade win the ladies singles title at Wimbledon in 1977 in the Queen's silver jubilee year. Being at my Catholic boarding school in Uxbridge Middlesex from 1974 to 1976. Holidays during that period were taken in North Walsham, Norfolk. One particular time on holiday we went to a place called Wallcott which is in Norfolk and my brother who is two and a half years younger than me fell off a wall along the sea front and he really got the needle. I can also remember the three-day and the power cuts when you had to light candles, the Heath Government. I can remember the 70s with great fondness.
Amanda Cerasale, Watford

School - constant battle against uniform regs: no platforms, no hair over collar length. Army-like uniform spot checks after assembly. The threat of the slipper and the cane. History and Shakespeare notes dictated syllable by syllable to 40 silent, scribbling boys. Music - superb instrumentalism and ingenuity - soaring guitars - psychedelic lyrics - plus the usual commercial rubbish. Radio Caroline. Radio Luxembourg. Vinyl. Cars - my Dad's Morris Traveller with a new engine - had to be run in for 10,000 miles never exceeding 40mph. Took ages. Shopping - buying everything in a different shop. Festivals - arriving in Sidmouth later than planned one summer - missed rendezvous with mates - no tent (huge canvas city in the dark). Slept under a fishing boat on the shingle - no mobile phone. Anxiety - constant fear of "4-minute warning" - ICBM nuclear strike from soviet block. Pain - piercing own ear with needle - ouch!
Mike Eaton, Ashford, Kent

Going to an all girls school but joining up with the boys in the sixth form; queuing up for hours to see Saturday Night Fever; Saturday night TV with Dallas. Platform shoes and high waisted trousers. Disco music. Martini and lemonade. Scampi and chips in a basket. The heatwave of 1976. Using an electric typewriter at work.
Linda Freeman, Irlam, Manchester
Never mind the gloom, the unreliable and slow British motorbikes were all being overtaken by brilliant new Japanese Kawasaki's, Yamaha's, Honda's and Suzuki's! Say good-bye to oil leaks and hello to electric starter buttons! Add the summer of 1976, Eddie & the Hotrods, Shaggy-perms, disco, sex without incurable diseases, Seditioners in the Kings Road, 22p for a pint of lager. What more could you want?
Declan O'Riordan, Worthing

The Seventies, God bless `em, star-jumpers, flares, feather cuts, Chopper bicycles, hot summers, girls, summer-songs, holiday romances at Butlins, playing in the woods and fields in your summer vacation, building dens, youth club dances on a Saturday night, glam rock, the banana splits show, holiday BBC, the flashing blade, staying at your aunties for a couple of days,(didn't matter which one). Hard times? I think not. Six weeks long, long, school holidays, not a care in the world, that was the 70s. Race? Religion? Terrorism? What was that all about?
Wesley Filby, Amsterdam Holland

My Chopper bike, summer of 1976, the austere but classic cars. Watching the last steam train through London Bridge station Meeting Elton John and Sir Peter Parker (who dressed up for a railwaymen's Xmas party) Pound notes and Green shield stamps/co-op stamps Day out to Margates Dreamland... when it was to us kids as big as any trip to Disneyland. And of course the 1977 street parties which our one went on for two days and everyone got very very drunk AND no one got hurt.
Ian Watson, United Kingdom

Dodgy haircuts, dodgy clothes; the awful Margaret Thatcher; an era best forgotten.
Ian, Watford

Leaving school, going to college and learning shorthand and typing on a manual typewriter, summers wearing long Indian cotton dresses, flowers on big floppy hats, Wide trousers and huge wedge shoes underneath them making your legs look really long, patchouli oil. Getting colour television and central heating. The strikes, dark winter nights playing cards by candlelight. It was good being a teenager in the 70s, I think it was the last decade when there were still strong family values around and friends were friends and have stayed friends since that time. You had to have verbal contact, not everyone had phones and the internet did not exist.
Janet Eager, Romsey, Hampshire

Great football teams like Brazil, West Germany, Holland, Scotland, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Leeds Utd, Liverpool, Notts Forest and many more! Archie Gemmils goals against Holland in the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina! Fashion - flares, Ben Sherman shirts, doc martens, jumpers with big numbers or stars on them! Combat jackets, bondage trousers - didn't actually have a pair myself though! TV - Magpie, How, The Benny Hill Show (genius R.I.P), Top Cat, The Politics - strikes and Blue Peter showing everybody how to make candles for the blackouts! Beer & Sandwiches at No 10! Other Stuff - Yucca plants, grey skies, lots of rain, Habitat, It was kind of ok the 70's although the new world we all craved was twisted and corrupted by the excesses of Thatcherism! Not sure where it all got us, but now seems a good time to look back!
Mark HS Dobson, 70s Edinburgh/Oban, Scotland. Now Lyon, France

For me personally it was a good time. For the country as a whole it was a disaster. Newly married with a young son, I had a key job--a buyer for a major manufacturer (remember those?) and I was well paid. With 20% annual inflation, our ability to hold down suppliers prices was a matter of commercial life or death, but we were good at it. The utter humiliation of being the 'sick man of Europe', laughed at by continental neighbours and competitors, was hard to live with. My nice new British made company cars fell apart within three years. Many people today remember the Thatcher years but not the awful period that preceded them. Worst of all were the fashions - I had long hair, a droopy moustache, flowery shirts and shorts so short I'd be arrested today for wearing them. Tony Blair is grateful to Maggie. No nation can thrive without self-esteem (and decent dress sense!) and, love her or hate her, she restored it. Iraq notwithstanding, we have never quite lost the 'Falklands factor', unfashionable though such notions may now be.
Ralph Cook , Barking, England





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