1. Queuing at a call box.
Can you get more seventies than this? The pouring rain, the broken call box, the bad tempered queue outside, the banging on the call box door, the shouts of ‘fuck off’ from inside and the jammed up phone that couldn’t take any more ten pence pieces. Add to that the smell of piss and rust mingling with the stale sweat from person before and you who had the perfect seventies perfume – a decade when men were so manly they didn’t use deodorant and didn’t go home for a piss and made grunting, bad tempered calls from the permanently damp red boxes.
2. Drinking milk straight from a milk bottle
This was considered quite manly at school…nick a milk bottle from someone’s front door, take it to school and rip the top off and slug it down in one and then flob up a big greeny on the floor.
This was also the decade when, interestingly, blue tits joined in the fun and would famously flutter down and peck their way through milk bottle tops and drink from the bottle. They didn’t flob on the floor though..in fact the word ‘flob’ is also quite seventies and so is the word ‘goz’ which was a northern word for spitting, soon to be replaced by ‘gobbing’ after the punk explosion.
3. Marbles and other weird games like pitch and toss
It seems baffling to remember marbles…a game so Victorian that its hanging on into the seventies is a sad indictment of the decade where they kept telling you stuff was fab and modern but you were actually still living in a two channel TV state, a place where TV ended at 11 o’clock with the national anthem and pubs were places where men went to smoke fifty fags and stare into space.
There would be pockets of marbles enthusiasts all around the playground interrupted by the odd fight when some kind of side betting or pride was involved.
Pitch and toss involved flipping coins onto ledges on the wall and whoever got the closest to the main coin would win all the money – you can only imagine how many fights that started! It was such a popular game that whole areas of the school playing fields would be reduced to mud by the flying coins and the shuffling feet of the mini gamblers.
4. Stoned ice cream man
There seemed to be a lot of these around in the late seventies. Hiding under the guise of what was then considered quite an innocent job. You could buy an ice cream and also something else under the counter from the erratic driver who drove off in a not very straight line after sampling his own wares – and we don’t mean the cornetos…
5. Birmingham bags v Oxford bags
The big bad flares of the 1974 period, a collision of northern soul bags and glam rock for a not very glam youth. They were even made out of corduroy and the big pockets on either side were looked on with pride even though they were not the sort of place you could actually keep anything. Oddly their name seems to be referring to either of the two British cities depending on where you lived and what the locals called their kecks.
The other fashions at the time were ridiculously knotted Big kipper ties with the fat bit of the tie barely pulled through to make what looked like a clown cravat around the neck of the wearer, there were also the ribbed and tight northern soul pullovers- sometimes with stars on them and duck shoes that were wide at the front but were soon to be replaced by brogues with segs in the heels for extra click on the street and sparks if you smacked them down hard enough.
6. Kebabs been seen as exotic foreign food
This may have been a Blackpool thing from my days growing up in the last resort but when kebabs arrived there was an excitement at the arrival of these exotic items with a whiff of the east about them or a whiff of the semi rotten fat percolating down the street.
Fish and Chips suddenly seemed to be very quaint after this onslaught of exotica, becoming something for seagulls or grockles (local slang for a tourist). Blackpool also had its own type of bread called a Blackpool milk loaf which was the whitest bread on the planet and would swiftly turn to charcoal when toasted…god knows what they made it out of but it smelled like sawdust.
7. Barbers refusing to do feather cuts
The barbers had had enough with these new fangled haircuts, it was already enough with these footballers looking like ‘bloody wimmin’ with their permed hair but the grown out skinhead look of hair longish and layered to the collar and sticking up slightly on top was either too difficult for the hair clippers in the seventies where the old boys had learned their trade in the army or in prison. Either that or it was just a shock to their manly values that they would either charge more for or refuse to do the haircut all together. They preferred the good old fashioned, traditional short, back and sides whilst listening to arcane radio stations that only played music by dead people.
8. Something for the weekend
The sexual revolution may have been raging in the media but in the rest of the UK the one off durex in the barbers was the hopeful carrot to dangle in front of the good lady wife in more ways than one. It was probably, also, an unfulfilling experience and a never to be filled condom…
9. Irish jokes
They weren’t funny then but a staple of the dickie bow comedians who wobbled onto TV flogged them to death. It took a brilliant Dexys Midnight Runners song and gear shift in society to put it all into perspective and, like the dinosaurs, the seventies comedians gradually faded into the ether still muttering the same jokes to themselves.
10. Noel Edmunds
Annoying DJ who seemed to have no interest in music but somehow was the main DJ of his generation – a generation of DJs listened to by millions but whose cultural impact has been zero, a generation of DJS whose limp, smutty innuendo was a staple and whose grinning, yet mirthless presence has hung around like a bad smell until they were famously culled. Noel Edmunds was their king and his whole appearance is a perfect reflection of the naff side of the decade….oh hang on he’s still with us…