Sunday, 2 October 2016
Tommy, Can You Hear Me?
You've got to hand it to the V&A, they're pretty smart - even if they refused my offer as a volunteer. They really know how to hook us baby boomers - you know the ones who have floated up on the 40 odd year house boom, index linked final salary pensions and the triple lock. The management at the V& A know that we are desperate to spend our pension pot and equity release money before either the tax man or death or both catch up with us.
Their "You say you want a revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 -1970", might not be the catchiest of titles but for someone like me it was irresistible. From September to March there is a whole universe of memories, remembrances and failed affairs to recall in that august establishment in South Kensington.
At £15 (plus a discretionary donation of £1.50) the tickets were perfectly pitched. Not too expensive - us pensioners like to think we're careful with money and not to cheap - that wouldn't do. Having ordered on line and printed out two tickets my mate Peter and I headed for South Kensington last Friday.
I have to say that South Kensington underground station, where we met up, is definitely unfit for purpose. At almost any time of day it cannot cope with the crush of humanity. This Friday at 11:45 am was no exception. The thousands of people disgorged by the tube hadn't the faintest idea where they were going. Having navigated the ticket barriers, they invariably stopped suddenly, wondering where they were, causing those behind to swerve decorously or not to avoid harm. Avoiding any mishap we made our way along the tunnel leading to London's finest - the National History, Science and V&A Museums.
Before entering the exhibition we were fitted out with a piece of electronic wizardry and headphones.It was a truly remarkable device, for as you went past each section, exhibit etc it would stream the appropriate audio into your headphones.
The exhibition itself was pretty comprehensive starting with Kennedy, his commitment to landing on the moon before the end of the 60's, his assassination in Nov '63 right through to the early 70's and Germaine Greer's "Female Eunuch". In between we had the Beat Poets, Dylan, the Beatles, Carnaby Street. Then there was Black Power, Women's Lib, Gay Liberation, Black Music, the Vietnam War, draft dodgers, Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, David Bailey, the Who and masses and masses of music.
The standout exhibit was a room dedicated to Woodstock, the music festival on a farm in up-state New York in August '69. There were the costumes worn by the artists, their instruments, LPs from the bands playing there and items showing the administration behind that huge happening. For example there was a grubby ancient typed list of some of the bands playing and how much they were paid. Joe Cocker and the Grease Band received $1,000, Jefferson's Aeroplane $7,500. Then there were the three screens - high up so for the best view you laid down on bean bags provided and watched and listened to "Woodstock" as it was meant to be seen.
One really nice touch in another part of the exhibition was a record display, just like those you'd find in your local record shop on the High Street in the '60's and there were all the LPs you remembered and you could flick through, pick up and read the sleeve notes. Hugely nostalgic.
You forget how young we all were then. Leonard Cohen, Grace Slick, Donovan. Marianne Faithfull staring out of 1966 newspapers following a drugs bust. And of course Christine Keeler and that infamous chair (now owned by the V&A).
There was Vietnam - over 2 million young Americans went to war against the Commies, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives destroyed. The protests, the revolution of 1968 in Paris. It was all there asking how could I have forgotten so much. I suspect that like me many of those there who'd experienced the '60's were lost in their own reminiscences.
As we left we were reminded that the V&A will not let us go so easily for in May 2017 there's " Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains."