Sunday 28 August 2022

Jewish Recipes


Honey cake, orange cake, Julia Neuberger's cheesecake, Pesach vegetarian lasagna - it's all here in the ultimate Jewish recipe book. With lively introductions from the contributors, some of whom live in our memories. It is also a memorial to West Central Liberal Synagogue, which started life as Lily Montague's Girls' Club. All proceeds go to charity. Order your copy here.

Saturday 13 August 2022

Movie Clichés in Quotes 5

Grumpy old man reluctantly raises a child that he accidentally adopted. (Heidi, Silas Marner).
Underdog loses but still wins in sports movies.

Nobody listens to the scientist warning of “coming calamity”.
Two strangers are forced to pretend they’re married.
Old/eccentric person explains arcane lore to the heroes. 
The "hero/heroine" turns out to be the villain.
Random but endearing side character meddles in main characters’ lives.
Character you thought was too old/drunk/frail to be of any help pulls it out of the bag when needed.

At the last moment, the detectives find the observant old lady/invalid/child who saw the perp escaping, or the suspect who was elsewhere than he claimed.

Hero and villain have a temporary truce for a common goal before going back to fighting each other. (Prof X and Magneto, Dr Who and The Master)

Parent (usually father) who disapproves of their child’s choices (usually sport)  sees them smash it at the finale and proclaims “that’s my son/daughter”. (Circus Boy with Mickey Dolenz. Sometimes father says "I shouldn't have ridden you so hard", and son says "I love you, Dad!")

Protagonist gets beat up and torn to shreds, but they keep going with their last bit of strength. 

The brilliant aberrant who has no social ability but sees what no one else sees. (Holmes, Saga Noren)

All the friends they've met along the way show up together for the final effort. (Including the friend they’ve fallen out with.)

A character remembers something someone tried to tell them earlier that is exactly what they need to save the day in Act Three.

Villain/Morally Gray Character is hired to infiltrate the hero's friend group to betray them but then they start to actually care about the heroes and switch sides to protect them. (Bosola)

Two rivals are thrust into a climactic battle. They fight to a draw, gain respect for each other in the process (and maybe even realise they are just pawns in a larger conflict.) They join forces to fight the REAL enemy.

Irritating jokey guy suddenly gets serious. May say: “Nobody took me seriously so I played the fool deliberately.”

Hero covertly escapes his restraints during a villain’s monologue. ("Why are you telling me all this?) 

Nice, meek guy is forced to navigate the criminal underworld - and proves to be surprisingly good at it. (He is probably an insurance investigator.)

Story starts with protagonist waking up with amnesia and/or in an unknown place with no clue how they got there. (Traitor's Purse, Margery Allingham)

Great big fiery explosion dies down a bit, and then one solitary burning wheel rolls slowly out of the wreckage. 

A struggling musician type has a friend who keeps trying to get them to “sell out” and work with them at their evil corporate ad agency writing jingles for commercials. (Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell)

"Your family never told you what really happened in that story that you thought you knew."

“For 23 years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you... well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!” (Wizard of Oz)

(Thank you, Twitter.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Movie Clichés in Quotes 6

Musing on late-1970s & early 80s telly, and how it seems to me that a generation of liberal, bearded medical grads called Jeremy were able to devise their own skit shows for the BBC called things like The Big Pink Medicine Show because their uncle was Kenith Trodd. Probably. (@AliCatterall)

Can we go back to when horror movies were called “satellite of blood” or “theatre of blood” or “palace of the damned” and “the screaming never ends” cause like now we keep getting these one word title horror movies like Hereditary and Relic and Censor and it’s like this doesn’t tell me anything about the level of blood, screaming, or whether everyone in it is damned. (From the Web)

Modern horror movies just be this: Monster that is an allegory for untreated trauma (silhouette hanging in the air)/Horror movie protagonist (running away down corridor) (@DionicioRT)

That terrible singy songy non-existent Irish accent done by American actors, and nobody is ever from Cavan or Mayo. Awful stereotype Liverpool accents done by RADA actors. They sound like someone from Jo'burg choking on loft insulation. Nobody I know speaks like what the BBC thinks we do. (@ChrisFarrelly)

I do love/hate the trope where the main characters in films go through something utterly reality-shattering (in this case, being absorbed into a solid rock face and traveling through a massive dimensional rift) only to go 'that was weird' and just carry on. (@garwboy)

It is an unwritten rule of police procedural TV Series, that every such MUST have an episode about an ancient, dysfunctional band, with a dodgy history & hidden secrets, trying (and failing) to get back to together, complete with a body count. (AJB)

Is it just me or is The Great British Sewing Bee in danger of losing some of its simple, unaffected charm by including more of the contestants’ backstories, so that it becomes like any other dreary reality competition show? (Carol Midgley)

You know the thing where a TV/film character gets some devastating news and insists they talk about it there and then, despite the other character saying "We've gotta get out of here" due to imminent lethal danger? (@Femi_Sorry)

For a vapid, postmodern comedy drama, set in a weekend lifestyle supplement globalised world, Killing Eve was quite entertaining. But I don't quite get the love for Villanelle, whose acts of extreme violence (e.g stabbing a father and daughter to death) are reduced to slapstick. (@Lord_Steerforth)

Fictional widows are either steely or tear-drenched, hard-hearted or prone to splattering their sorrow all over the walls and furniture. (Catherine Mayer)

I have watched too many murder mysteries, as far as I know the main role of a maid with a tray of china is to drop it and scream. (@hippytea1)

Why do pretty much all new TV programs have to be "gritty", "realistic" and "edgy"? (via Twitter)

Every disaster movie starts with someone ignoring a scientist. (@NetflixUK)

It's the old, old story; droid meets droid, droid becomes chameleon, droid loses chameleon, chameleon turns into blob, droid gets blob back again, blob meets blob, blob goes off with blob and droid loses blob, chameleon and droid. How many times have we seen that story? (@JadeTigerPlays)

This is a variation on an old theme where a person with a problem swaps identities with another person to avoid his problem only to find that he has inherited a far worse problem. (Imdb on Deadly Nightshade)

Carol Midgley in the Times on The Tower, new cop drama: While mostly well written it had clichés too, such as the line churned out by all TV dramas to childless women to suggest they just don’t get [it]: “Do you have children?” a mother asked Collins. “No, I didn’t THINK so.”

There was still this obsession among directors (an older generation) with jazz as the sound of the sixties. It wasn’t. (

Isolated high tech base, check. Paranoid commanding officer, check. Monsters, check. Security chief, check - in one of these stories there's a security chief in a MONASTERY. Just... why. Why do that. Why keep remaking the same bloody thing. (@JonnElledge on late 60s Dr Who.)

I love how in movies to show someone is poor they make them live in a normal apartment and take the bus. (@geekylonglegs. “If only we could get out of this terrible suburb!” wails Mildred Pierce looking around her gracious Spanish-style home with a curved staircase descending into a vast hall. In the book she is mortified at having to live in a Spanish-style house when taste has moved on. How does a waitress job sustain this lifestyle?)

Well Dune was great, looked fabulous, much moody gazing, explosions, evil villains, punch-ups, sinister nuns etc etc though what on earth anyone not familiar with the novels would make of it, I have absolutely no idea. (@JoolzDenby)

Do all British TV coroners have to be sarcastic in a macabre way? (@ChrisFarrelly)

That "Shhhingg!" sound when the killer pulls a knife is called a "snickersnack".


We hear a single piano key play.
A shot of a basketball court at dusk. 

Sally Field [V.O.] “Your grandfather was… complicated. There’s a lot you don’t know, can’t understand.”

A children’s choir starts singing In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins.

Antiques Roadshow clichés from silver expert Michael Baggott

Cameraman focuses on the expert not the object.
Bought at a carboot/charity shop for pennies.
Tedious story of acquiring Beatles/celebrity autographs.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 7 August 2022

What I Don't Miss About the 70s 4: Lifestyle

The Pauper's Cookbook (Jocasta Innes) came along in the early 70s, during the oil crisis. We were paupers, but meals were still supposed to contain meat: liver, ox heart. There was a lot of prejudice against vegetarians, who were subject to the same scorn and unfunny jokes as vegans are now. “Macrobiotic” food became fashionable – cheap brown rice and vegetables. There were perfectly good meatless meals we’d been eating for years without fuss, like quiche, macaroni cheese, cauliflower cheese, salade Nicoise, omelettes, spaghetti with tomato sauce. But perhaps these were all too enjoyable to qualify as 70s austerity food. You could never add the chutney or tomato ketchup sauce that would have made it edible, you had to add dried herbs that didn’t taste of anything – or Marmite!

In Woody Allen's Sleeper, 1973, he’s cryogenically frozen and wakes up in the future. The futurians tell him all his friends are dead, and he says: “Dead? But they ate organic rice!” It was both funny and subversive.

I kept expecting “Dig for Victory” to return, but it stayed away until the 90s, perhaps because acquiring an allotment meant navigating a Kafkaesque thicket of bureaucracy. The wider world wasn’t keen on practical solutions. It was full of sinecured jobsworths who delighted in making the possible impossible.

Many didn’t use deodorant because they thought it “blocked up your sweat glands” or gave you cancer. We now had access to baths and constant hot water, but we weren’t used to it and some still stuck to three baths a week, like at school. Hot water was "bad for you". Soap "dried your skin". Washing your hair too often (more than once a week) damaged it. Leave it alone and it'll clean itself. Most relied on launderettes – not often enough. Feminists really did worry about whether they should shave their legs, and elsewhere.  

The book Alternative London (Nicholas Saunders) came out in the late 60s (self-published and sold by a network of students). Few followed its anti-capitalist instructions to the letter, but we adopted some of the lifestyle as set dressing: we had mortgages and fitted carpets but that was OK because we cooked dried beans from scratch and reused yoghurt pots and saved rubber bands and threw an Indian coverlet on the bed. Mainstream culture shrugged – or mass-produced pottery with that "hand-thrown" look. 

Sarah Thelwall wants to bring the 70s back: I'm discovering something of a contemporary counterculture, hardly underground, of turning away from consumerist society, living on as little income as it's possible to do, taking a slower pace, reducing dependence on modern technology, developing presence, relying on inner resources rather than confirmation of self from what is outer, making how I feel paramount to appearance etc - I wonder if this will be an effective counter-measure to patriarchy, not through protest but through daily practice of a sort that is being taken up by, likely, as many men as women? Men are as much victims of the global economic and cultural hegemony, the birthchild of colonialism - violent, self-gratifying, lacking in empathy and never satisfied. Women, the underclasses and the planet Earth itself are the plundered.

The 70s to a T. And what difference does it make if you do things slowly? Why take three hours to cook a meal you’re only going to scoff? I suppose making your own clothes is “slower” than buying them. At least she didn’t say “simpler”. And what use is "developing presence"? Perhaps it means "don't lose weight, get a tan and bleach your hair". I'm sure we can do a comparative experiment and look at outcomes, measuring the income of the husband you attract using either method.

I'm amused by the simpletons who think capitalism is a club you can opt out of if you have a public sector job and make your own clothes. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

We were advised to make our own logs out of old newspapers (there was a device you could buy), and craft tumblers out of old wine bottles. (Nobody ever advised "start a glass recycling company".) The method involved red-hot pokers, and much sandpapering. I don't think anybody ever followed these terrifying instructions, and besides, if you couldn't afford tumblers, why were you buying wine? Tumblers were given away free with petrol, or with French mustard.

Labour-saving white goods became available and more affordable in the 60s, but in the 70s they were expensive, and middle-class people didn’t buy things “on the HP” (hire purchase), so they saved. We had overdrafts (up to a point), but no credit cards. Another reason for making your own houmous.

People of all ages shared flats and houses (it was a watered-down version of the commune, the way we would all live soon). This lifestyle faded out, but back then, a lot of life was communal. You shared a flat, worked in a co-op, and spent your evenings in “groups”, being “active” or going to classes. You need never be alone – and you couldn't exclude anybody as it wouldn't have been politically correct. People were benign in a generalised, Quaker way. You needed to have the right attitudes – but you didn’t have to be pretty, popular or flirtatious, or know the right people, or have money, or be successful. It was a shock to find a shallower society existing in parallel.

Communal living was also about not wasting money or resources; or not feeling that you had to earn lots of money – because look, you can live for so much less. So you ate lentils and chickpeas, and wore clothes from jumble sales. It was about sticking it to the Man. At the same time, conventional people were shocked that men and women shared living spaces.

After the "let's modernise everything" movement of the 60s, there was a renewed interest in history, and a move to stop "them" pulling down everything in sight. Instead of throwing out old jug-and-basin sets, we collected them – there was a whole lace, chintz aesthetic. Some got very huffy about this, complaining: "That's not nostalgia, that's my childhood!"

There was a story people used to tell about a docile, domesticated elephant which suddenly attacked and almost killed a stranger. It turned out that the stranger had been cruel to the elephant 50 years previously. Was this a cautionary tale? If it was, people seemed not to understand the moral.

Shop staff, train guards and museum staff were boot-faced. Everyone was routinely rude and sarcastic – especially to young girls.

Bottled water hadn’t happened yet – it was an 80s thing. In fact, nothing came in plastic bottles. Victorian water fountains were a thing of the past, but there was quite often a tap labelled “drinking water” in ladies’ loos. And there were far more public toilets. If you asked for water in a restaurant it would be room-temperature tap water (which back then tasted of chlorine). If it arrived at all. 

I and some friends were travelling home to Norwich from Cambridge in 1976. We went to the train's buffet (they were a good idea – bring them back). The others got cups of tea but I just asked for a glass of water. I can’t remember what the man behind the counter said, but he shouted at me and was very hostile. I got my water in the end, in a small plastic cup. (I don’t miss those plastic cups, which weren’t heatproof and held hardly anything.) We found seats and I explained to my American friend that sometimes my accent made people inexplicably rude to me. He was baffled. To some, a public-school accent means that you have a title and are a millionaire – and I’d asked for a free glass of water instead of paying for anything. Plus, buffet man could be rude and abusive because nobody was filming him on a smartphone and I was unlikely to report him to his superiors. And if I had, see “tangle of bureaucracy” again. The abusive got away with it and we just lived with it. 

Some pubs didn't welcome women – if you went in, or were taken, you’d be frozen out or told to leave. In the early 70s many didn’t allow women to order drinks at the bar. The ridiculous non-queue queue is still with us.

In the 80s I tried to buy some nails in a DIY shop in Matthias Road. I went in, spoke my request and repeated it about three times while the man behind the counter stood still and silent, looking straight through me and pretending I wasn't there. (Now the staff of the DIY shop in Balls Pond Road, male and female, couldn’t be more sweet and friendly. The Matthias Road emporium became a Travis Perkins, then closed.)

Men in official roles treated young women with a total lack of charm or even politeness: Dr Blau at the Migraine Clinic, Mr Eckstein the jeweller who told me my bracelet was paste, the man at the Halifax who told me they couldn’t give me a mortgage; Dr Chris Beetles who told me I'd have to spend the rest of my life in a surgical corset (he runs a gallery now). Not a smile, not a handshake, not a “nice to meet you hello how are you”, no “come in, take a seat”, no "I'm terribly sorry but". I’m sure we’d been told that if we smiled and were friendly to men they would be beguiled by our looks and charm. No, nothing. Not a flicker. Not the faintest echo of warmth, friendliness or even politeness. It didn't inspire us to trust men or even like them.

Despite the revolution, you couldn't be indignant – showing emotion and getting angry in social situations simply wasn’t done. You were shushed if  you complained about sexist ads. You’d either be told to stop being so boring, or that you only objected because you were prudish. You were shushed when you complained about Golden Delicious apples which for a long time were the only ones we could get (apart from Red Delicious which were even more revolting). Lovely Coxes and Russets just disappeared, or were hard to find. 

You were shushed for going on about feminism (“too intense”), people tittered at street danger (“lurking, dark alley, he he”), child abuse was dismissed as “kiddy fiddling”. Mental illness was either “going a bit doolally”, or “nervous breakdown, in hospital out of sight”. Sexual harassment? “I’d just stab them with my hatpin, ha ha!” (Women had not worn big hats secured with foot-long hatpins since the 1910s.) A young woman is kidnapped and murdered in London in 2021 and people are still having this conversation, using practically the same words, and exchanging competitive “witty put-downs when I saw a flasher”. Meanwhile women are still passing round the same unarmed combat tips. They work.

People also could not imagine what it was like for a young, single woman going home alone at night along dark streets – which were much darker back then. And there were fewer buses, no night buses, and fewer people about, and we couldn't afford taxis. The only solution offered was: stop being single.

There was a moment when Bohemian students suddenly bought houses and became wine buffs. And it had been their game plan all along. 

70s clothes here.

More about the dreary, withholding 70s here.

What I Don't Miss About the 70s 3: Ideas

The guilt-ridden socialist 70s. (The Daily Mail)

The 70s were a decade of flares, polyester, recession – and superstition and quietism. Many aspects of life were rubbish, but "Mustn't grumble!" At the same time lefty politics were extremely radical and we were convinced revolution was just round the corner. We were going to make everything new – or perhaps we already had. 

I thought that everything had changed, changed utterly. Perhaps I took it all too seriously. Maybe people pick up fashionable ideas, knowing (and not knowing) that they'll drop them next year when another one comes along.

Some important laws had been passed: homosexuality was no longer a crime, abortion was obtainable, and the Equal Pay Act... well, it had been passed, but equal pay was being phased in slowly so as not to upset people. It still is.

We didn’t have much power over our lives. We were likely to get stuck in a low-paid dead-end job in a small town where we didn’t meet many people and the dating pool was limited. We couldn’t afford to give up our jobs and move to America where we might have more options. Or even to Manchester.

Any problems, you were told to “get help”, which consisted of talking to a therapist for years while she didn’t give you any practical advice like “smile more and wear nicer clothes”. 

If your schemes turned out to be pointless, you were told to be grateful for a "sense of achievement". 

A colleague recalled that all her university girlfriends had been on Valium. If you bumped into a friend and asked “How are you?”, you got the answer, “Oh, I’m so depreeeeessed.”  

You were not your conscious mind, there was no such thing as “the self”, and everything you did or said was the result of your subconscious pulling your strings. You weren't forgiven for making mistakes, because, per Freud, everything you do is intentional. And it was a poor approach to achieving anything.

You can't always get what you want, but if you try some time, you might get what you need. (The Rolling Stones) Friends claimed you wouldn’t like being happy and if you got what you wanted you wouldn’t like that either. And if you can’t get what you want, change your want. These mean-minded mantras were popular before the Human Rights Act, the consumer movement, people power etc, back when the establishment, firms, monopolies, universities, schools, manufacturers could do us over and get away with it. 

But at the same time: You can do, be, get what you want as long as you want it enough. And we believed in magic: biofeedback, iridology, ley lines, earth energies, negative ions, out-of-body experiences, UFOs, crop circles, karma, astrology, homeopathy, synchronicity, the Tarot, crystals, Freud, Jung – surely as a means of obtaining health and happiness? But these efforts were never direct – directness was very frowned on. As was science ("white-coated priesthood, triumphalist narrative"), perhaps because it disallowed much of the above. A new paradigm was going to overthrow the "scientific paradigm" any day now. (No sign yet, 2022.) Science and modernism had failed to cure all diseases/stop wars/improve living conditions, so the lefties threw out all scientific thinking and said truth was relative in an irritatingly smug way.

("Biofeedback" consisted of training your brain to produce beta waves with an electronic device. Negative ions were good for you, and were given off by a water feature in your living room.)

Process was more important than product. Teachers were not allowed to be didactic (or doctors scientific). You could join a singing group or drumming workshop but you couldn't improve. And leaders – sorry, facilitators – were not allowed to teach you music theory, or grammar. They were supposed to empower or enable you to do the thing. Anyone who thought a magic wand would be waved and they'd be able to do the thing without any effort on their part were doomed to be disappointed.

Some of us had grown up thinking we’d been created to be saved by Jesus, do good, and go to heaven. Without that narrative, what was the “purpose” of life, we wondered? We looked for other narratives, and then read Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan which says that life is “a succession of accidents, as happens to us all”. Many were unable or unwilling, though, to shake the idea of determinism, and astrology was pervasive. Karma was popular – pop Hinduism brought over by the Beatles? Even the revolution was going to just happen thanks to historical inevitability, and progress would take us into the future via conveyor belt. 

There was a vague feeling of “it must have been meant”. Some asked “What does the universe want me to do next?” or "Am I making the movie or is the movie making me?" Or they advised, "Act, don’t react". It was all quite impractical. 

We weren’t supposed to write the story of our lives as “Get job, join institution, rise thru ranks, retire on pension”, or “Get married, have children”. (As a permanently single person my life was never going to have a shape apart from “get older and more unattractive” but I was sold "attain greater self-knowledge".)

I want a job, I want a boyfriend, and most of all I want to make my nan happy. (Snog, Marry, Avoid) Could anyone have said that in the 70s/80s? You don’t want to work for The Man! You don’t want to fit into some heterosexist straitjacket! Working-class people were always more realistic – and seemed to be having more fun.

There was no Google. Agony Aunts in women's magazines were our only source of information. There were self-help books, but despite censorship ending in the late 60s, publishers still didn’t trust frank chat about sex. Then along came Our Bodies, Ourselves and The Sensuous Woman. These authorities even said it was OK to masturbate, though OBOS suggested some very strange ideologically sound sex positions. (Not all 70s ideas were silly: the agony aunts told us fantasies were just fantasies.)

Ideas came and went, such as: All men are rapists. All penetrative sex is rape. All depression is caused by repressed anger: beat a pillow with a tennis racket.

Despite working for the revolution 24/7, nobody was interested in punishing perps, or apparently in changing anything. (They were more interested in psychoanalysing the perps and making excuses for them.) Apart from being "politically active" and joining Women's Groups, our job was to wear the right uniform (dungarees), eat the right food (brown rice), engage in equal partnerships, spout the right opinions and "spearhead" – ie charge into the socialist, enlightened future and hope that everyone was following us. Our whole lives were supposed to be propaganda and "sending the right messages".

Jealousy, shyness and embarrassment had supposedly been abolished in the 60s – after the hippy revolution we could let it all hang out and social interaction was on an entirely different plane. Except it wasn’t. We just had no words for jealousy, shyness and embarrassment – or even loneliness and isolation – so we couldn’t talk about them and life was even more agonising than it might have been. Jealousy became “possessiveness”, which was frowned on. By the late 70s the term “social skills” had been coined. But for a long time, the entire 80s in fact, nobody would accept that shyness was a problem, or even talk about it much. All they would say was: The so-called shy are arrogant, lazy and self-centred. Loud, brash types are really shyer than quiet, lonely individuals. Forget about learning to talk – become a good listener. Most people are too busy thinking about themselves to notice you. 

The nuclear family, mother, father, children, was the cause of mental illness and all society’s ills, according to pundits like R.D. Laing. Besides, it was a historical and local anomaly that developed as a result of Catholic marriage laws. There was a moment when approving of partners, marriage and families was equivalent to going over to the enemy.

Lefties proclaimed they were going to abolish the nuclear family, worldwide. We would engage in experiments in alternative relationships and living arrangements, and never pair off again. (The disappearance of the idea that “premarital sex” was a sin, and the availability of contraception, might have had something to do with this.) What happened? People paired off as before, they were just rather quiet about it, and didn't get married. "Dating" was not mentioned, or at least not in my hearing. Nobody talked about “love” much – perhaps the 60s had put them off. They were going to get rid of capitalism and patriarchy, too. 

The feminists would help you do whatever you wanted to do, unless that was “get married and have children”. If you confessed to this life goal, they did their best to put you off, claiming it was slavery and worse. It was fashionable to say that anybody could reproduce, like cows. And who wanted to be a cow? Having children was supposed to "turn you into a cabbage". But where did they think the replacement humans were going to come from? (And if it's that easy, where are my children?) 

There was an alternative role model (as we used to say): the "earth mother". This mythical creature lived in the country (with whom, and on what was never mentioned), had loads of children (whose, we didn't know), and made her own jam. Did they all live on home-made jam?

Middle-class feminists dressed in a deliberately “unfeminine” way – real workmen's dungarees were popular. Why don't they wear orange boiler suits and hivis vests now? But, really, we still had to “get a boyfriend”. The feminists pretended that in about six months they’d have fixed everything: women would be able to ask men out. Meanwhile the mainstream world took little notice except to make lame jokes about bra-burning and “liberated women”. According to writer Linda Grant, the feminists at university talked a good game, but you had to be engaged before finals. 

And you couldn't say "I need a boyfriend/girlfriend because I need someone to go to the concert with on Saturday".

In our teens and early 20s, young women of my era all claimed that we didn't want boyfriends and would never get married. Of course we did and did, but we wasted a lot of time and effort with our pretence. (Moira Redmond) 

I still find the hypocrisy hard to credit.

Nobody ever wanted to BE that woman – the strong feminist with a career who didn’t need anybody because she was so politically pure. (Caitlin Moran)

In The Dialectic of Sex, Shulamith Firestone described romance as “a cultural tool of male power to keep women from knowing their condition.” (New York Times. Perhaps that's where everybody got it from. But there was a huge gap between theory and practice.)

Nobody would talk about buying a house or flat on your own (much harder if female), or pensions, or a lonely old age. Men recoiled from women with "an agenda". Perhaps they were all obeying the oft-parroted injunction to "live in the moment". 

Before "the pill" and effective painkillers, we were told period pains were caused by smothering mothers, and would go away if you understood how your body worked and had a positive attitude to your periods. The cure for cystitis or period pains was "have another baby". Raspberry leaf tea was also recommended – what happened to that? A doctor convinced many that childbirth couldn’t possibly hurt because there were no nerve endings in the uterus – on the same reasoning, vaginal orgasms were impossible. (And all kinds of pain could be banished by willpower. I thought we'd seen the last of this one, but it's back as "mindfulness" and "pain management".)

Medical science was frowned on because it used "military metaphors", and we didn't want alien drugs "invading" our bodies. All illnesses were thought to be psychosomatic: everyone had read the same paperback by Edward Shorter. (An Amazon reviewer comments that Shorter "has “a mildly negative opinion of the somatisers he describes”.) Neurotic people were always fancying themselves ill, so if you were ill you were neurotic – neurosis probably caused by repressed sexuality. Men told single women that they "repressed their emotions" – as if we had somehow done it to ourselves.

People were fond of saying “We can’t have a pill for every ill”. Always sounded like a good idea to me.

We were told that logic was a male province, and women had different brains. Feminists claimed logic was linear, and hence phallic, but women had different methods (knob of butter, pinch of salt) that were just as valid. Logic belonged in the wrong, uncreative half of the brain. During the long, long, expensive process of psychotherapy, you had to wait for insights, rather than try to work things out. You can imagine how effective this was. And shouldn't therapy have a sell-by date? What's the point of a "cure" that takes 20 years?

More mantras: It is more blessed to give than receive. When God shuts a door he opens a window. There is good and bad in everyone. Cynicism is crushed idealism. It's all right in theory, but will it work in practice? Nature knows best. We can't stand in the way of progress. People need a sense of mystery. A newborn baby is a blank slate (so we can write what we like on it). 

Yes it's time for psychologists to stop talking about nature vs nurture. It was time back in the 1970s. (@aylwyn_scally)

Many were rude about the “caring, sharing” professions. On the credit side there was a quiet revolution in values: we wanted “caring, sharing” relationships; more people became social workers; we had the idea that families should be democratic, not autocratic, and that we should be KIND to children – and to each other. There was a backlash to these ideas that continues to this day.

Before the 70s, the disabled “had to be put away”, corporal punishment flourished, children were abused and nobody did anything, there wasn’t a word for domestic abuse until someone came up with “baby battering” and “battered wife”. And it was just assumed that many people wouldn’t be happy and should just lump it. It was about time people began being kind! Before, there was always some reason why you couldn’t.

For a long time, feminist authors advocated that these peaceful, matriarchal agrarian societies were exterminated or subjugated by nomadic, patriarchal warrior tribes. An important contribution to this was that of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. Her work in this field is now however largely rejected. (Wikipedia)

Everybody believed in Philippe Ariès, who claimed in Centuries of Childhood that childhood had been invented by the Victorians, and that, due to high child mortality, for the rest of the past parents didn't invest in their children but treated them as mini-adults.

While academics have dismantled much of Philippe Ariès's theory, many of his beliefs persist. (Amanda Ruggeri,, 2022) It was middle-class parents in the 50s and 60s who sent their children away and treated them as mini-adults – probably because they’d been raised the same way. Yes, somebody isn’t treating their children as children – but it can’t be us.

Everyone was into sociology and read the relevant blue paperbacks (Pelicans). The discipline's parish mag was New Society and to a lesser extent The Listener. Sociology had a language all of its own as if it was trying to pass itself off as a science. (There were a lot of graphs and x-y axes.)

Lefties talked and acted as if come the revolution (which was always going to happen in about six months’ time), everybody would become like them. There would be no more makeup, no more fashion (patriarchal plot, exploits third world), no more bling, no more keeping up with the Joneses or competing with your neighbour because we’re all equal now… Look on the modern world: oligarch bling, footballers’ wives. And they honestly thought they were going to take over the whole world. Though actually sanctimonious puritans have always co-existed with the Veneerings (Dickens) and the Bullyon-Boundermeres (Punch). 

OK, attitudes have changed a bit. Maybe we helped. Gay people and single parents are accepted (aren't they?), though their lives may not be easy. 

I didn't waste time beating a pillow with a tennis racket, but I did write about the 70s in my novel We Three.

And for more ridiculous fairytales, try my book What You Know that Ain't So.

More jaundiced views of the past here, and links to the rest.
Review of Helen Gurley Brown's Having It All.