As my latest book, Storm Clouds Gathering is set in 1965 I thought it would be great fun to take a peek at that amazing era. This week Author, Gilli Allan joins The Hippie Shake and shares some of the memories and pics that represent that wonderful era, the 1960’s.
1965 - a life-changing year in a great decade
I don’t usually like to admit it because it makes me very old, but I’m a baby boomer, one of that ‘lucky’ generation who passed through their teenage years and became young adults in the 1960s. Born in 1948, I can well remember the dreariness and austerity of the 1950s. It was a black and white world, where bombsites were commonplace, the milk was delivered by horse and cart and trains were still steam driven. TV was one channel only and our set had a 7 inch screen. And I recall having to wear liberty bodices and leggings, with hundreds of fiddly buttons. The new decade, which coincided with my move from primary to grammar school, was like the sun coming out.
In fact the decade started badly for me. In 1961, when I was not yet thirteen, I was involved in a serious accident. Crossing the road outside our house I was knocked down by a van. I could easily have been killed, but, apart from remaining unconscious for several days, I escaped with only minor injuries. Afterwards my family joked that it was the knock on my head that switched on my hormones. From having a ‘take or leave it’ attitude to boys and pop music before my accident, I became suddenly aware. I regularly developed crushes on neighbourhood lads and the drop-ceiling above my bed was adorned with cut out pictures of the pop stars I admired. I went for looks first - their songs were almost incidental - and Jess Conrad and James Darren were favourites. That was until the Beatles. Loving the Beatles took over my life from 1963 onwards. I was obsessed. And George Harrison was my favourite. From being dotted with a few photos, my drop-ceiling became smothered by my idols.
Aged 16, I left school in 1965, after O levels. In the 6 week break, before I started
I worked in Dickins & Jones, in ’s
London Regent Street. Apart from mini-skirts, which had only just
hit the high-street and were worn no shorter than 4 inches above the knee, the
prevailing fashion theme that summer was for white PVC macs, worn with those
calf-length white boots with cut-outs (first shown by Courrege, in 1964, I
believe). This look was universal. Every
young woman in ,
it seemed, had a white PVC mac. But I’ve
always been a bit of a rebel. I didn’t
want to wear what everyone else was wearing and anyway couldn’t afford this
fashion garment. My older sister and I
went to a chandlery (name forgotten) in London Albermarle Street, which sold sailing equipment
and sailing ephemera. We both bought the far cheaper oilskin mackintoshes. Hers was red and mine was yellow, and I wore the
accompanying sou’wester back to front because I thought it looked better!
When I arrived at
in the September of 1965, lacy stockings (tights had yet to come in), corduroy,
mini-skirts and Anello & Davide buttoned tap-dance shoes were what all the
trendiest female students were wearing. But
what wasn’t quite so acceptable for an art student of the time, was to love the
Beatles. The Rolling Stones, the Who, the Spencer Davis Group, the Kinks - Ray
Davis had actually attended Croydon
- were all more recent, more raucous and more overtly rebellious, and therefore
had far more credibility. I didn’t dislike these bands - I just kept in the closet about my love for
the Beatles and the fact I was a member of the fan club and still received their
annual Christmas fan club record. Croydon
At the time it was common for people in the advertising industry to produce their own Christmas cards. My dad was the art director in an advertising agency and he designed our family card, but it was an annual nightmare for him. The air would frequently turn blue as my stressed and over-worked father struggled to come up with an idea, to find the time to actually sit down and produce the design, and then to get it printed in time to catch the last post before Christmas. At the end of my first term at
and full of confidence in my own abilities, I volunteered to design the family
card. My father accepted with much relief and I’ve done it ever since. Art College
But.... were the 1960s so great? The decade in which you grow from childhood into independence must always seem special. After all, it’s the time when your hormones begin to ferment and the future looks full of romance, potential and excitement. I’ve long thought that favourite records are often so powerfully potent, not because of any intrinsic superiority in musicality (after all, they’re often cheesy and derided by others), but because you were exposed to a particular song at a time when you were more thin-skinned and receptive to the world around you. A song that touches you at such a time, when your emotions are in turmoil, will resonate more deeply within you and remain with you, maybe for life. And the same is true of your feelings about the decade in which you became an adult.
All that aside, I believe the 1960s were especially great! And 1965 was a crucial life-changing year for me.
A little about Gilli…
Growing up in
hobbies were drawing and writing ‘books’.
School and I didn’t get on and, as soon as I was able to, I left and
went on to Orpington,
I originally worked as an illustrator, in advertising. I only began writing again, with the serious
intention of being published, when I was married and at home with my young son. Art College
I write contemporary romantic fiction with an edge, or ‘Reality Romance’. My first two novels - Just Before Dawn and Desires & Dreams - were ‘mainstream’ published, but these days I publish independently. I have two novels - TORN and LIFE CLASS - currently available as e-books and in paperback. FLY OR FALL is coming soon.
I now live in a village, at the head of a beautiful valley in the
Cotswold Hills, in
Gloucestershire. Still a keen artist I
draw and paint, design Christmas cards and regularly attend a weekly art class.
I’ve been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers and was one of
the initiators of the successful community shop in my village.
I wouldn’t be able to live the life I do without the support - emotional and financial - of my husband. Our clever son, Tom, who was a toddler when I started in this game, has put his Phd on hold and is currently working as Project Curator, for the British Museum’s, 2014 ‘Vikings’ exhibition.
Gilli’s latest publication
Fly or Fall – due out later this year
FB author page: http://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR?bookmark_t=page
TORN: She may escape her old life but will she ever escape herself?
LIFE CLASS: A story about art, life, love and learning lessons.
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