Then And Now? Spot The Difference?


Oh, what a strange couple of months. Two new “rulers” – a new modernizing Pope and a new Chinese President. Please allow me to congratulate you both on your promotions and please remember to send invitations to your celebration parties using the Feedback form provided!

Between them, these two men influence some 2.6 billion people, or about 40% of the entire world population. Can we expect big changes in the coming decade? Allow me to progress sideways for a moment.

I found my old photo album from so long ago – old album, old photos, old memories. I gazed at the faces smiling back at me from across the decades and felt a little lost. Who were all these strange, young people with their loon pants and Beatle mustaches and kipper ties and unflattering haircuts? People with their futures still ahead of them, unknowable but bright with hope and ambition.

I remember that underlying the 1960’s was a positive mood, despite the assassinations, Biafra, the Middle East, the unending, unwinnable hot war in Vietnam and Cold War everywhere else. We stood on the brink of the future. And it would be a better future if we could just get past the current crises.

We did feel positive, my small group of unrevealed heroes. We had hope for the world, a world to which an entire generation would contribute and build better. Moonshots, Woodstock, UK education grants allowing working-class kids to obtain free university educations, Civil Rights in the USA, the modernising Second Vatican Council, the Cuban missile crisis stand-down, the contraceptive pill, the music – oh, the music! Yes, there was so much hope.

It continued into the 1970’s, despite the terrible music and even worse haircuts. Nixon went to China, Vietnam found peace. We had 8-track tape players, color TV, lava lamps, the first home computers (of a sort) and Skylab. And Happy Days! Happy days. But the Oil Crisis shook the world’s economy and austerity measures were biting hard.

Many of the photos include their partners of the moment, with short skirts, platform shoes and fashionable hairstyles. I wondered if any of those relationships endured, who married whom, and if they are still together.

I wondered how many of those bright unrevealed heroes still feel heroic. Which of us achieved everything that we were capable of? How many are still fighting the good fight and how many lost their hopes and dreams in fading health or despair? Fading like the hopeful images captured by ancient photographic emulsion.

Hmm… a longstanding, unpopular, unwinnable ground war; a new back-to-the-people Pope; lunar explorations plans; fears of nuclear missile attack from a faux-Communist state; Middle East worries; austerity…

Was that then, or is that now? What did change over all those decades? Oh, yes – this time round, the music is appalling!

Photo : Wikipedia

4 thoughts on “Then And Now? Spot The Difference?

  1. “Who were all these strange, young people … … ? People with their futures still ahead of them, unknowable but bright with hope and ambition.”

    Oh Andy, you brought me down with this one, though I feel the same way- no, precisely because I feel the same way. 😦 We were the future once, and we felt it, and now we feel ourselves fading into nothingness, and the only difference we spot is a difference in speed and stylistics of communications. We have a few good years left, so we might as well pursue our writing as best we can. That’s the only good future we have ahead of us.


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