Tag Archives: history

➤ Shapersofthe80s is declared an “invaluable website” by British historian

“winter of discontent” ,  Leicester Square, strikes,

Britain’s infamous “winter of discontent” that brought down the Labour government in 1979: as public service workers went on strike, rubbish piled-up even in London’s Leicester Square

Seasons in the Sun,Battle for Britain, Dominic Sandbrook, books, history, Allen Lane,❚ AN “INVALUABLE WEBSITE” — this is the verdict on Shapersofthe80s by historian Dominic Sandbrook, author of the rich new cultural analysis, Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974–1979. It’s a doorstep of a book, yet highly readable, which reveals numerous upbeat aspects to the chaotic decade many write off as worthless.

Chapter 31 is especially inspirational! Sandbrook gives generous credit to key characters who Shapersofthe80s has long maintained deserve recognition as movers and shapers pivotal to the energy of the 80s. And, having quoted chunks from our own texts, the historian gives due acknowledgement in his extensive bibliography. Indeed, the scope of his research is more impressive than for much other contemporary history, as Sandbrook not only cites political and economic mandarins, but also sifts fine detail from popular culture and eye-witness reportage across the whole social spectrum.

Sandbrook writes: “Behind the lurid news stories, the late 1970s were the decisive point in our recent history. Across the country, a profound argument about the future of the nation was being played out, not just in families and schools but in everything from episodes of Doctor Who to singles by the Clash. These years marked the peak of trade union power and the apogee of an old working-class Britain – but they also saw the birth of home computers, the rise of the ready meal and the triumph of a Grantham grocer’s daughter who would change our history for ever”

Seasons in the Sun is the fourth title in Sandbrook’s survey of postwar Britain. His unstuffy combination of high and low life is behind the BBC2 series The Seventies currently viewable live and on iPlayer.

BBC2 series The Seventies,Seasons in the Sun ,Dominic Sandbrook

Sandbrook’s Seasons in the Sun forms the basis of the current BBC2 TV series The Seventies


❏ “The first three volumes of Dominic Sandbrook’s epic history of Britain between 1956 and 1979 were exceptionally good. The fourth, Seasons in the Sun, is magnificent … marked by its pace, style, wit, narrative and characterisation as by its exhaustive research.” — Roger Hutchinson, Scotsman

❏ “Sandbrook has created a specific style of narrative history, blending high politics, social change and popular culture … his books are always readable and assured, and Seasons in the Sun is no exception … Anyone who genuinely believes we have never been so badly governed should read this splendid book.” — Stephen Robinson, Sunday Times

1977, Jayaben Desai, Grunwick, strike, picket

August 1977: Jayaben Desai, treasurer of the strike committee at the Grunwick photo-processing plant, had been picketing for a year, supported by white, male trade unionists while postmen blocked the company’s mail. (Photograph by Graham Wood/Getty)


➢ Playwright David Edgar draws together the Sandbrook quartet in The Guardian, May 9, 2012: The 1970s was the moment when our century arrived… As Sandbrook insists, the women’s liberation movement was as much about Hull’s fishermen’s wives and female machinists at Ford Dagenham as feminist activists disrupting Miss World. In 1971, workers campaigning against the closure of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders borrowed the student tactic of the sit-in. As 1970s chronicler Andy Beckett argues, the gay groups who stood shoulder to shoulder with trade unionists outside Grunwick prefigured an alliance which “would become commonplace in the decade to come”. The identity politics that were to become such a satirised feature of the left of the 1970s arose not just out of campus and culture but class war… / continued at Guardian online


➤ Killing a king tells you who you are — so do your haircut and shoes

execution, painting,1649,Banqueting House , King Charles I

One of Schama’s six epic moments in British history: the execution of King Charles I in 1649, painted by John Weesop. Source: The Gallery Collection/Corbis

The Look, Rock & Pop Fashion❚ SHAPERS OF THE 80s? A STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE or an antidote to complacency about the present? Let’s hope the vintage yarns on the inside pages of this website provide a constant foil to the topical blog posts on the front. Even on the pop-cultural timeline, parallels deliver insights: parallels between the Swinging 60s and the Swinging 80s, and what feels highly likely in 2010 to become the Swinging Tens. The signposts to every British youth cult since World War Two have always been the haircut and the shoes, as we’re constantly reminded at that absorbing online version of the book The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion. So keep your eyes open.

What caused this momentary validity-check was an exhilarating read in today’s Guardian headlined “Kids need to know they belong”. Don’t wince when you hear that it amounted to a vigorous exhortation to schools that are failing to teach to the hilt the dreaded H-word, history. The history of how we came to execute our king, for example, gets short shrift from the national curriculum.

“Irreverent freedom” is a special aspect of life in Britain. “The endurance of rich and rowdy discord” is another. This was telly-don Simon Schama getting into his eloquent stride. Who needs history, he asked? Our children, of course, if they are to know who they are, and whose imaginations risk being held hostage in the cage of eternal Now… In full fig, Schama succinctly listed the benefits of examining the past:

To the vulgar utilitarian demand, ‘Yes, all very nice, I’m sure, but what use is it?’, this much (and more) can be said: inter alia, the scrutiny of evidence and the capacity to decide which version of an event seems most credible; analytical knowledge of the nature of power; an understanding of the way in which some societies acquire wealth while others lose it and others again never attain it; a familiarity with the follies and pity of war; the distinctions between just and unjust conflicts; a clear-eyed vision of the trappings and the aura of charisma, the weird magic that turns sovereignty into majesty; the still more peculiar surrender to authority grounded in revelation, be that a sacred book or a constitution invoked as if it too were supernaturally ordained and hence unavailable to contested interpretation.

➢ Read My vision for schools by Simon Schama
— six key events from the past that no child should miss out on

King Charles I, execution, warrant

Death warrant of King Charles I (1649): Showing the signatures and seals of 59 of the commissioners who tried Charles I, including that of Oliver Cromwell. This document directly led to the execution of the king, the abolition of the monarchy, and the consequent establishment of a republic to govern England for the only time in its history, between 1649 and 1660. © Parliamentary Archives