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January 2019



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life on mars

Northern Soul

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.


It's odd to think of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning being Northern, but to many I suppose it was, or is. I love the view from Nottingham Castle and always think of the film when I look out over the city from there.

A Taste of Honey was the first film I saw which I was absolutely crazy about. I bought the script of the play in the days before you could buy videos or DVDs. I'm not exactly sure why I loved it so much, but my mother's family all came from Lancashire, and although she never lived there, all the relatives did. I suppose it was a glimpse into the world that she used to visit, and the black and white world of the late 1950's/early 1960's when both of my parents were young, and alive (I am a sucker for kitchen sink dramas, too - I particularly love No Trees In The Street). I have it now on DVD - a freebie from one of the newspapers - and although I haven't watched it in years, I might just do that this afternoon.

Edit: I have just read that entry, and the bit where I describe Nottingham as a big, scary Northern town. Well, there you have it!

Edited at 2010-09-15 10:43 am (UTC)
Big and scary, ha ha! I have been to Nottingham but I was only interested in stuff like 'the spot where Charles I raised his standard'. How could you *not* think of SNASM as northern? Too busy thinking about Albert Finney, perhaps :-)
Albert Finney - sigh :-)

Rosie was going to be an Albert, I think. Her dad thought it was after his uncle, ha ha.
Thanks for the heads-up; I shall watch this later tonight once I get in from work. One cannot have too much Rita Tushingham.

Ever seen Smashing Time, starring our Reet and Lynn Redgrave as two northern lasses let loose in London? About as far from kitchen sink drama as you can get; great fun.
Ooh, no, Smashing Time sounds good; must look out for it. I'd like to see Georgy Girl again, too.
I had a northern ex tell me, completely seriously, that people in the north had it hard, whereas the south had it easy. (I was from East Anglia, which he classed as south, but that's a whole new argument in itself.) When I pointed out that my mum and brother lived in a council house and his brother was in the pony club, his response was, 'but my mum saved up for that pony'. She COULD SAVE, dipstick! That was a luxury in itself.

That said, I'm really enjoying the series about the north of England, even though I doubt we'll ever see a South West season or an East Anglian season (they'll only get the accents wrong for the latter if they do).
More discrimination! It's the geographical equivalent of inverted snobbery.


Northern soul

I too enjoyed the programme. Does anyone know the origin of the trad jazz trombone duet (with banjo) they used in the soundtrack? It's haunting me...

Re: Northern soul

Can't help with the music, I'm afraid. Very atmospheric.