Book Review: Modernity Britain Opening The Box 1957-59 by David Kynsaton

Chris Hallam's World View

ImageThe Fifties are often remembered as a serene and peaceful, even slightly boring time, but as David Kynaston’s book reminds us, it wasn’t all like that.

The Notting Hill riots of 1958, for example, were amongst the most serious racial disturbances of the century.  British football reeled from news of the Munich air disaster which seemed to have robbed English football of the talented names that had seemed set to dominate the Sixties. The Wolfenden Report, meanwhile, recommended decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour. This wouldn’t actually happen until 1967.

The beauty of David Kynsaton’s book, the first of two making up Modernity Britain covering 1957-1962 (his previous volumes Austerity Britain and Family Britain detailed the period from 1945 to Suez) is how they seem to cover nearly everything that happened in the UK at the time. On the one hand, we get the big, obvious events: Macmillan pulling the Tories back…

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Book review: Modernity Britain Book Two A Shake of the Dice 1959-62, David Kynaston

Chris Hallam's World View

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Book review: Modernity Britain Book Two A Shake of the Dice 1959-62, David Kynaston. Published by Bloomsbury.

They sometimes say that if you can remember the nineteen sixties, you weren’t there. Well, I genuinely wasn’t there, I know this for a fact. But after reading this, the second part of the third volume of David Kynaston’s masterful collection of books spanning the period from the Attlee victory in 1945 to its bitter denouement in May 1979, I sort of feel like I lived through it.
Or at least the first part of the Sixties. For this book takes us to the half way point in Kynaston’s saga. It is a nation in transition. The colossal changes of the Sixties have not quite began at the end of the book. The Beatles are no longer The Quarrymen. They have been to Hamburg but they have not fully taken off yet. Dudley…

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Book Review: Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James

Chris Hallam's World View

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Once upon time, conversations about TV used to be like this:

“Did you see Neighbours yesterday?”

“Yes, I saw most of it. Bouncer had a dream…” And so on.

A few years later, it would often be more like.

“Did you see Sex and the City last night?”

“Don’t tell me about it. I’ve taped it.”

Now, it’s more like:

“I watched Santa Clarita Diet yesterday.”

“Cool. I’ve not seen that. Or heard of it actually. Get back to me in 2020.”

For we live in the age of bingewatching. All of our viewing is laid out before us. In the 1970s, this would have meant whole series of The Onedin Line, Upstairs Downstairs and er, Poldark would have been presented to us in one go. Today, it means I’m bang up to date with some things (13 Reasons Why, Crazy Ex Girfriend, Transparent) and miles behind on others. I’m…

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Five not so glorious years of Tory low achievement

Chris Hallam's World View

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The Tories have now been in power for five years and five months. This is a fair old time. What did our previous governments manage to accomplish by this point in their life span? Let’s take a look…

The Attlee Government (1945-51)

(Elected: August 1945. In office for five years and five months by January 1951)

Had created the National Health Service.

Established the welfare state.

Had demobilised our wartime forces, secured full employment and was busy housing the nation.

Had nationalised a third of British industry.

Established the UK’s post-war strategic position. Had joined NATO.

The Wilson Government (1964-70)

(Elected: October 1964. In office for five years and five months by March 1970).]

Had legalised homosexuality and abortion, liberalised divorce laws, abolished the death penalty, generated an education boom and created the Open University.

The Thatcher/Major Government (1979-97)

(Elected:May 1979. In office for five years and five months by October…

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Five Classic Books which take no time to read…

Chris Hallam's World View

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Want to become very well read but not much time to spare?Then try these…

Goodbye Mr Chips: James Hilton

Is it possible too condense a Victorian schoolteacher’s life from 1870s upstart to 1930s school institution in a few hours’ reading? Hilton shows us how it should be done. Actually quicker than watching the Martin Clunes TV version.

Candide: Voltaire

Sounds highbrow doesn’t it? Voltaire? But it’s honestly really easy, short and fun to read. And you’ll soon be able to explain what “Panglossian” means.

Animal Farm: George Orwell

A great novella and much more political than The Animals of Farthing Wood.

The Catcher in the Rye: JD Salinger

A short one, brilliantly written, although to be fair, more rewarding if you read it twice. This still won’t take you long though.

A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens

Dickens isn’t exactly famed for his brevity but this one really is a speedy…

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Top 6 rejected 2017 Tory campaign General Election slogans

Chris Hallam's World View

Philip Takes Out The Rubbish…Now Let Theresa Take Out The Trash!

may_and_may

Vote Theresa May 2016 in an election which definitely isn’t presidential at all, y’all.

Don’t Let Cyber Attacks Ruin Our NHS…That’s Our Job!

Jeremy Hunt nhs

Vote Conservative: Because Who Honestly Likes Going To Hospital Anyway? Exactly. Soon We’ll Make Sure You Can’t Go Ever Again

Pass At 11: And Be Ours Forever!

Eleven_Plus_Students_in_Exam_Hall.jpg

Vote Conservative: Because If You’re Not Middle Class By Puberty, You Never Will Be

Come On! Theresa May’s Nothing Like As Bad As Thatcher Really…Unless? You Like That Kind Of Thing? In Which Case, She Kind Of Is. Whatever You Want…

thatcher

Vote Conservative: She’ll U-Turn If You Want Her To. The Iron Lady’s Not Returning

Supported Brexit? Got Your Own Way On It But Still Very Angry About It And Many Other Things For No Real Reason?

the_sun_jeremy_corbyn_frontpage

Vote Conservative: Because There Might Actually Be Something A Bit Wrong With…

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Top 6 rejected 2017 Tory campaign General Election slogans

Philip Takes Out The Rubbish…Now Let Theresa Take Out The Trash!

may_and_may

Vote Theresa May 2016 in an election which definitely isn’t presidential at all, y’all.

Don’t Let Cyber Attacks Ruin Our NHS…That’s Our Job!

Jeremy Hunt nhs

Vote Conservative: Because Who Honestly Likes Going To Hospital Anyway? Exactly. Soon We’ll Make Sure You Can’t Go Ever Again

Pass At 11: And Be Ours Forever!

Eleven_Plus_Students_in_Exam_Hall.jpg

Vote Conservative: Because If You’re Not Middle Class By Puberty, You Never Will Be

Come On! Theresa May’s Nothing Like As Bad As Thatcher Really…Unless? You Like That Kind Of Thing? In Which Case, She Kind Of Is. Whatever You Want…

thatcher

Vote Conservative: She’ll U-Turn If You Want Her To. The Iron Lady’s Not Returning

Supported Brexit? Got Your Own Way On It But Still Very Angry About It And Many Other Things For No Real Reason?

the_sun_jeremy_corbyn_frontpage

Vote Conservative: Because There Might Actually Be Something A Bit Wrong With You

Jeremy Might Not: Theresa May…

bomb

Vote Conservative: Sleep Easy Knowing If Anyone Else Kills Us All, We’ll Make Sure The Rest Of The World Also Die Very Soon Afterwards As Well

Jeremy Corbyn Will Ensure Black Lesbian Dwarves Overrun Your Homes, Steal Your Property and Kidnap Your Children If Labour Win Power

corbyn

Vote Conservative: Because We’ll Say Any Old Bollocks If It Means We Get To Win

John Smith: Twenty years on

Chris Hallam's World View

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The Labour leader John Smith died suddenly of a heart attack, twenty years ago this Monday on May 12th 1994. Had he lived, he would now be seventy five. He would also, no doubt, be a former Prime Minister, rather than an Opposition leader whose tragic premature death prevented him from getting to the top.

Smith only led the Labour Party for two years. I don’t recall much popular excitement about his election as leader in July 1992. The contest against the perfectly decent left winger Bryan Gould (who subsequently returned to his native New Zealand) was a foregone conclusion and a dull affair.

There was also some feeling that after losing for the fourth time in a row in April 1992, Labour might never win again. After all, if Labour couldn’t win during a Tory recession when could it win? Surely the economy would have recovered by 1996…

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Tom Sharpe: a tribute

Chris Hallam's World View

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There are few authors who I can claim to have read every single book they have had published. Tom Sharpe, who has just died, aged eighty five, was one such author. Every one of his sixteen books is both funny and incredibly readable.

That is not to say they are low brow either. Although sex, contraceptives, misunderstandings and even famously, a sex doll, famously play a part, Sharpe’s novels are extremely well written and a world away from the low comedy of the Carry On films which were still being published when his novels first began appearing.

His heyday in fact occurred at that time of great low national self esteem, the mid-Seventies. Porterhouse Blue (1975) in which a reforming Tony Benn-style minister is transferred to the position of Master of an ancient and very traditionalist Cambridge college, is for me, his masterpiece. The efforts of the new Master (driven…

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General Election memories 9: 2015

Chris Hallam's World View

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha wave as they return to Number 10 Downing Street after meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in London, Britain May 8, 2015. Prime Minister David Cameron won a stunning election victory in Britain, overturning poll predictions that the vote would be the closest in decades to sweep easily into office for another five years, with his Labour opponents in tatters.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Exeter, May 7th 2015.

Some of you may have spotted the occasional hint of pro-Labour bias in this blog. From this, you might very well have concluded that I would have been more than slightly disappointed with this election’s result.

You would be right.

What is more, while you may, for all I know, be reading this at some point during Boris Johnson’s second term as Prime Minister in 2024, I am writing this in the same month the election actually happened. So be kind please: the wounds are still raw.

That said, I am at least fortunate not to be a Liberal Democrat. I was never keen  on the idea of a Lab-Lib coalition bin 2010, not because I disliked what was then the third party but because I felt Labour had so clearly lost that it would look a bit desperate for Gordon Brown to attempt to cling…

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