Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1988: What we are not now

By 1988 I was properly obsessed with all things 1960s, and nothing was capturing my imagination more than hippy mudfest Woodstock.

I had the album, I watched the video about 100o times, knew all the songs off by heart and watched the older part of my record collection outnumber anything new. I papered my room with all these pictures of long-hairs putting flowers down the barrels of guns held by nonplussed soldiers, helicopters landing in Vietnam, had posters saying things like What If They Gave a War and No One Came? and generally immersed myself in the whole thing. At times, I physically ached to be there. Oh why wasn't I born a few years earlier? Why couldn't I meet a girl like Michelle Phillips? Why is it 1988 and not 1969?

Not that I looked like a hippy. Far from it. I had a job in a shop that required me to wear a tie. You weren't going to find me with a dog on a string. I had some friends who lived a semi-crusty life, but of course you could only really afford that luxury if you were a trustafarian. I met very few crusties who didn't have a comfy cushion of some sort behind them.

Then again there were the scary, squattery ones with their dogs on strings who the trustafarians enjoyed slumming with, but they all grew up eventually. One of them was fortunate enough to inherit £100,000 and move to a caravan on the coast of Scotland where she carried on living her life. And to think, she had done an accountancy degree and used to wear drindle skirts.

I still know of someone, now a single mother, who travels fairs selling her own jewellery and the son of a friend of my parents who's the same age as me and has white dreads, tattoos and fells trees in (naturally) the West Country. The same boy who cried hot, angry tears when I fell off his skateboard and took a chunk out of it aged 12 during their post Christmas visit on their way from Exeter to see an aunt in Herne Bay.

But as I've previously stated, I wasn't a risk taker and had no intention of going down the Swampy route, though I did wear stringy bracelets and lovebeads (the latter weekends only). I was just daydreaming. I still do it now, hoping against hope that I pull up my bedroom blinds to find it's 1969...

The music has stayed with me, however, and I'm still a huge fan of CCR, Melanie, Tim Hardin, Joan Baez and Canned Heat - the opening Woodstock construction scenes with Goin' Up The Country playing over them still give me goosebumps, as does this song, written about Stephen Stills' affair with Judy Collins and perhaps one of the most joyous love songs ever written.

Soak up the sunshine, man.


  1. No one would ever mistake you for a dog-on-a-string man. If anything, you're a cat-on-a-velvet-cushion man.

  2. Well I am now. Perhaps at heart I have always been.