Does Nostalgia Control Us?

Posted on April 19, 2014

I don’t know if any of you have been watching the Ian Hislop series called Olden Days but if you haven’t, you should, it is a fascinating insight to how us Brits have entrenched in us, a longing for a golden age where things were so much better than they are now.

Hislop’s series goes back hundreds of years to times when a writer would publish accounts and novels of the golden eras before them, creating mythical figures such as King Arthur and Knights fighting dragons as a way of keeping people in check and not thinking of a golden future when the past was so much better.

Without really knowing it, generation after generation of Brits have been brainwashed into thinking that the past was so wonderful, to a point where nostalgia is part of our every day lives. How we long for the golden days when footballers didn’t hug each other, music was proper music, summers were glorious and it snowed every Christmas.

Yesterday, when I was decorating, I decided, in my wisdom, that it might be nice to listen to a bit of Absolute 80’s on the radio for a bit of nostalgia. Foreigner, Phil Collins, Stevie Windwood…The list of utter of utter dross was pretty much endless and when Broken Wings by Mister, Mister came on, I had to terminate proceedings as I was way to close to a hammer.


Collins: Awful

However, the 60, 70’s and 80’s are incredibly popular, with disco’s, weddings and British tours dedicated to these eras when Britain was great because kids had more respect, your back door was always open, there were no paedophiles (as long as you stayed away from the BBC studios) and a copper could give you a good kicking and get away with it.

Of course, the beauty of nostalgia is firmly in the eye of the beholder and I have lots of happy memories of the 70’s and 80’s but I can’t really be bothered longing for it any more, as there was so much that bad about these periods that seem to be conveniently written out of the history books.

In the 80’s it was acceptable support Apartheid, fight fruitless eye for an eye combat with the IRA, shut down communities that revolved around mining and, worst of all, oversee the death of 96 football fans and fabricate the evidence from the corridors of the Yorkshire Constabulary right up to the office of the  Secretary of State. It’s just how it was.

Oh for a return of the glory days when financially crippled British navy, aided by a diverted cruise ship and aircraft carrier with a fucked gearbox, just about overcame the nasty Argies who had invaded an island that, at the tender age of 14, I thought was just of the north coast of Scotland.

The eighties had some shocking moments, yet there was recently a campaign to have the August Bank Holiday named Margaret Thatcher Day…What the fuck were these people thinking?

Many of you will have been reminded this week that it was the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and would have, like I did, thought to yourself:

“Where the bloody hell does time go?”

When I watched the emotional memorials in Liverpool the other day, I tried to recollect my feelings at the time of the tragedy and I really had to  work my brain into overdrive; this made me realise that nostalgia tries to obliterate your bad memories, which is a good thing as we would all be terminally depressed.

I can recall being in a pub in Tadley with my girlfriend and someone telling me there was a riot at the Liverpool versus Nottingham Forest game. I can remember being told loads were dead and worst of all, I can remember not being that surprised as I had been to plenty of football matches where I had been left gasping for air as fans surged towards the fences that caged them in when a goal was scored.

In 80’s Britain, footballs fans were treated like animals by the police and the Government. Anyone who has been to football knows that the Hillsborough tragedy could have happened to any other football club, it just happened to be Liverpool who drew the short straw.

When I look back, it seems quite remarkable to me that the FA Cup carried on that year. Liverpool won the replay and went on to beat neighbours Everton at Wembley, a day when I can clearly remember a Liverpool fan getting hoisted up the into the stand by fellow supporters so he could see the game.

This was just weeks after the events at Hillsborough so it was easy for the Yorkshire Constabulary to feed information to the media that held Liverpool supporters to account for the death of their own, really easy. Lets be honest virtually everyone outside Liverpool who wasn’t a football fan, believed every word that was said and written, especially as it was just four years after the Heysel disaster allegedly caused, predominately by Liverpool fans.

Even now, I know people in denial. It is not their fault, they are just struggling to come to terms with what the Police, Sheffield Councillors and the British Government did to lives of the bereaved families; How are decent people expected to comprehend such an inhumane act from the State that is supposed to protect and represent them? It is something I continue to struggle to get my head around.

Thankfully, we have evolved since then and football stadiums are safe places to be 25 years on from Hillsborough. With the advent of social media, it is now harder for people in power to get away with their crimes as was the case with disgraced Basingstoke MP, Maria Miller, recently. When she was resigned, it was a victory for internet campaign groups such as 38 degrees.

So, in my opinion that we are a better world now when I was young. Black footballers can run down the wing without getting pelted by bananas, gay people can get married if they want, most kids go out at weekends to enjoy their life, not to fight, sex offenders aren’t presenting kids programmes and Maria Miller is found out for what she really is. A crook.

I just hope there doesn’t  come a day when people are saying…”Can you remember when the internet wasn’t controlled by the State?

I must go…“George, Harry…. What is that crap you are listening to….Put The Clash on for God’s sake…Bloody Hell, music these days is awful.”

2 Replies to "Does Nostalgia Control Us?"

  • Dickie McSpangle
    April 19, 2014 (1:28 pm)

    Nostalgia is not what it used to be. As someone once said.

  • Nick
    April 21, 2014 (11:24 am)

    I was at the Boleyn Ground on the day of the Hillsborough disaster enjoying a rare away win for the Saints. It wasn’t until we left the ground that someone said there had been a death. As we made our way back into central London the death count kept climbing. My memory of it is that we weren’t surprised and assumed the LFC fans had been the cause. Also that we had stood on that same terrace for a cup tie against Sheff Wed a couple of years before. What amazed me most, and made me angry, was that so many could die in full view of police and stewards who refused to open the front gates to alleviate the crush. My nostalgia for that era is not about the era itself, it is about the being a healthy, free 25 year old with money in my pocket and good friends around me.

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