It's been a month since my last posting
(Where does the time go? I can't even blame being busy).
Marriane Faithfull (who has been all over BBC4 these days - the only channel apart from BBC News that I seem to watch any more), had a song called The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. I like Marriane for a lot of reasons. She looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, has lived through interesting times, doesn't take herself too seriously, and her songs usually tell a story. There's a rather poignant one called The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, which has the lyric "At the age of 37, she realised she'd never drive through Paris in a sports car with the wind in her hair."
I'm 37 in a couple of weeks. Like Lucy, I probably will never drive through Paris in a sports car with the wind etc either. Unlike Lucy, I don't mind that much. Paris isn't my favourite city.
I am already pretending to be 37, to get used to it, so that the extra year on my age won't have such an impact when it actually happens. In the same way, I am already pretending that there is a Conservative government. An election is only one year away, and it looks increasingly clear what will happen. I am one of those people who will never vote Conservative, yet feel that Labour are incompetent. I'll probably vote Liberal this time. I am also trying to look on the bright side of a Tory government. I guess there can be some fun in being the outsider. I never understood why people like Paul Daniels made (false) claims that they would leave the country if Labour got in. Not only did they look stupid when they didn't leave, it's much more fun to stick around and complain, complain, complain. If the British are good at one thing, it is moaning. So I will do that (more than usual). It will make me happy.
Last week the BBC showed all the footage of Election '79 (subtitled: Tonight Things Change Forever And None of You Can See It). I was 6 when Mrs Thatcher got elected, and didn't know much about it, except that my mother voted for her, to the disgust of the older members of my family who warned her that she would regret it (they were right - as a working class family our standard of living plummeted over the 1980s - prices went up while my Dad's wage as a bus-driver stayed pretty much the same. We sold the car in 1981 and sent our rented video player back to Rediffusion because those things quickly became unaffordable luxuries. For Christmas, we got clothes rather than toys. I wish I could say that I was always grateful for the sacrifices my parents made (we had piano lessons and my mother always bought Kellogs rather than cheaper brands), but on one or two Christmases, I complained. Growing up poor in the 1980s has made me a bit obsessed with social inequality (think Polly Toynbee but worse).
There were a lot of interesting aspects of Election '79. Litter in the streets, frizzy hair, posh voices, very ugly people on tv, Robin Day smoking a cigar in the studio, people called Peregrin, really bad computer graphics. People go on about "ugly" Susan Boyle - but she would have been a great beauty in 1979. The rather casual way that women were routinely demeaned is also noticable. One of the announcers talked about "a few old biddies who had trouble understanding the voting", while there was a news article about terrorists in Japan, including some "girl terrorists". We were told that a female candidate who didn't win her seat had "declared herself to be homosexual" (inasmuch the same way as you would declare yourself bankrupt).
The highlight of the night was the Cardiff South-east election, which was James Callaghan's seat. Callaghan has a lot in common with Gordon Brown. He was never elected to government and was increasingly unpopular. As the numbers of votes were read out, the proceedings were disrupted by a woman off-camera who started shouting about getting British troops out of Ireland. Eventually the camera panned back to revel that she was one of the candidates - Pat Arrowsmith, a veteran CND campaigner. She kept shouting as Callaghan tried to deliver his victory speech (he won his seat but lost the election). And she continued shouting as everyone filed out of the room, politely ignoring her in that British way. And I believe she's still campaigning away somewhere, now almost 80.