In 1945 the world was about to change, after 6 years of war and hardship it was finally the beginning to the end, it was the end of World War 2. I say it was the beginning of the end because even in to the 50’s there was still rationing on some things. There were also still high taxes as the country was still paying for the war. This was known as the “age of austerity” and is often referred to the years 1945-1955. So as you can imagine there wasn’t a lot of money floating about to spend on nice things, the only thing on a lot of people’s minds at that time was BABIES!
A lot of people held off having babies during the war either to the fact that their partners were at war or they didn’t want to bring a child up in a country that was at war. In the years 1945-48 the birth rate exploded and these babies that were born were called the “baby boomers”. These taxes and rationing didn’t go on forever though and in 1959 you could really see things looking up. The average weekly wage was i??11. 12 and income tax was 0. 38p in the pound unlike 9 years before when the average weekly wage was i??6. 40 and income tax was 0. 7p in the pound. In 1957 Harold Macmillan the P. M at the time gave a speech about the “Age of Affluence” that was coming upon them and in it he said, “You will see a prosperity such as we have never had in my life time nor indeed in the history of the country”. Consumerism was also upon the country with new things like the never never which gave people a chance to buy things like refrigerators and televisions something that a lot of people had not had the chance to do before and not because they hadn’t been invented because they had never had the money before.
Because yet another thing that changed was that ever since time began children would always give all if not most of their wages to their parents towards the upkeep of the house but as their parent were earning more there was either no need to give the money to them anymore or not as much and as the teenagers were earning more as well they were the ones with the money. If you look back to what I said before about the “baby boomers” when the 60’s arrived they were the teenagers and they were a lot of them. I use the word “teenager” but that word was even used until that time.
The teenagers were the ones with the money and at the time there wasn’t an awful lot for them to spend it in so in comes the development of popular culture, music, T. V and Fashion. Teenagers were the sixties without them it wouldn’t of been the same. Finally young people could break away because for so many years they had just been little miniatures of their parents but now their parents wanted to be bigger versions of their children it the in thing to be young and young people were going to make the most of it.
There were so many more things for teenagers’ television programmes, magazines, pop stars and shops. But no trend stayed the same for very long that was the thing about the sixties change. Earlier when I was mentioning what there was for teenagers I mentioned pop stars, music came a long way during the 50’s and 60’s. There was a lot of influence from the U. S. A and Elvis Presley was one of the biggest ones.
Britain did have their answer though, Cliff Richard and yes I did say congratulation’s ; celebrations, Wimbledon singing Cliff Richard in the 60’s he was good looking and very popular young girls all over the land had posters of him on their walls and posters were a new thing as well. Another thing that changed was that for the first time bands and artists were writing their own lyrics, in the early sixties they were generally boy meets girl scenario lyric which parents were fine with but as time went on the lyrics did get much more explicit.
A band known for this was the Beatles they were young, new, wrote their own lyrics and had liverpudlian accents. Before the sixties anyone in the limelight spoke the queens English all very how now brown cow but they were different a change to the norm, which I can’t, stress enough that change was the sixties. T. V was also an important part of this expressionism that music, T. V and fashion gave young people. As the television became more popular in the homes of British families music could get to people through the televisions.
Music was everywhere Ready, Steady, Go and Top of the Pops are good examples of this. There was one big inspiration for T. V and Music and it was the United States of America James Dean and Elvis Presley being some of the biggest ones Dean for the cinemas and Presley for the music. Many British stars copied American trends and covered American records. Fashion was a very big part of the sixties because lets face it when anyone thinks of the sixties especially those that weren’t there; think of the Beatles and the mini-skirt.
They are the stereotypes of the sixties but the miniskirt was only one of the major fashion changes to occur. Another was a paper dress I said earlier that young people for the first time were putting posters on their wall; well now young girls were wearing them they would change them frequently and always have their favourite star on them. One lady that helped this change occur was Mary Quant, before this change happened the fashion that ladies wore was very uncomfortable and gave you very little freedom to move. Mary wanted to do away with all of this.
In 1955 she opened her own store in Kings Road Chelsea and named it Bazaar and it sold clothes which allowed people to “run, jump, to leap” and to retain their freedom. You would of thought that men would of loved the mini-skirt seeing all of those legs but most were completely appalled by it. The Mini-Skirt was seen as an attack on the establishment and in the sixties there was a total lack of respect for traditional idea’s and values such as the church, politics and the monarchy they all became targets for comedy and satire.
One of the first attacks of satire was in 1961 and was “Beyond the Fringe” Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett were the people behind it and they made fun of Harold Macmillan, the church and the royal family. Private Eye was first Published in the same year and made fun of politicians. In 1962 television got its chance of satire as well with tw3, which stood for ‘That was the week that was’ It was shown on a Saturday night and got ratings of 12,000,000 people It made fun of news items.
The sixties was a period of change, nothing stayed the same for very long and for the first time people were free with their feelings either if it was what they wanted to say about politics or what clothes they wanted to wear or music they wanted to listen to. Popular culture was about young people and for young people it was the best time of their lives Joanna Lumley once said that “It was very heaven to be alive” which many people thought about the sixties because at last Britain had done away with pompous attitude towards life.