Friday, July 22, 2011

1977: Pack up your fork and spoons

Divorce. It was all the rage in the late Seventies.

Out of a class of about 30 people, at least half had divorced parents. There was a new one every week. Where I lived was the subject of a local news programme about how it was the divorce capital of Britain. It was the creeping menace that would come for you sooner or later.

My parents weren't divorced, but one cross word and I was convinced it was on the way. I remember seeing an episode of Crossroads where Rosemary Hunter received an envelope and put it on the mantlepiece. I asked my mother what it was and she said it was from the court. I asked her if it was from the divorce court and she told me it wasn't but I had a thing about divorce. And she was right. I was obsessed with it.

I saw so many people's hitherto happy childhoods come to a difficult end, and despite what parents might think it does have an effect. People moved out of large houses into small ones, people reluctantly attended the second marriages of their parents or had a new partner move into what was once the family home. Money could be tight, they missed their dad, they were over-sensitive and difficult. Everything changed. I did not want this to happen to me.

Of course now I realise that you can have a blazing row and not seek the advice of a solicitor, but back then, because everyone was getting divorced I was convinced it was only a matter of time. I used to dread a sharp exchange between my parents - and there were many around this time, but it didn't come to anything by 1977 and they're still together nearly 51 years later. It's the bickering that keeps them going.

The swinging Seventies, and believe you me, they did swing where I came from, had a lot to answer for. That, and no one ever being allowed to test the water by living together and realising 15 years down the line that they should never have married in the first place.

Anyway, this song was prescient. Is that a pampas grass I see?


  1. In the late 70s my parents puchased a lovely Readers Digest box set of 'solid gold hits'. On one of the records was this and I loved it. I wanted them to play it all the time. God knows what they must have thought.

  2. I remember her singing this on TOTP. She looked just like an up and coming New York comedienne who'd worked her way up in those clubs with low stages and bare brick walls. I remember being vaguely troubled by that line 'the neighbour told me what you do with bread, why don't you take up with the baker's wife instead'. I felt it must have been based on a real-life event, somehow.