Yesterday evening I watched an interesting programme on BBC 4: 1960 The Year of the North. It turned out to be mostly about films, in particular Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life, A Taste of Honey and A Kind of Loving. Rita Tushingham starred in A Taste of Honey. Have you seen her in The Knack, with Michael Crawford and Ray Brooks? You should.
I could have done without cultural historians telling me what to think but I liked the comment that when we see Julie Christie skipping along swinging her bag in Billy Liar, ‘it’s the start of the sixties’. The theme was of grittiness; of working class anti-heroes and northern accents becoming acceptable to people in the south for whom ‘The North’ was an exotic location. According to one commentator, these films paved the way for The Beatles to be seen as quirky and amusing rather than people to be laughed at because of their funny accents. Much as I love the films I couldn’t help thinking of Harry Enfield’s spoofs It’s Grim up North and Poppet on a Swing.
After that was an old Monitor programme, Shelagh Delaney’s Salford. This was a complete turn-off for me and I gave up on it. Hearing her praise for the vibrancy of Salford’s markets and the wonderful character of its people, as though it were the only place in the world, just made me think, ‘Never been to London, then, have you ducks?’ Of course, looking at the old film you realize that being a child in Croydon, as I was in 1960, was very different from growing up in Salford. I just get fed up with northerners with large chips on their shoulders. Goes to show how tribal we can all be deep down.