I’VE fallen out with Dorian Gray. For years I had an affinity with Oscar Wilde’s hero because I was always young for my age.
Dorian, of course, didn’t get old at all. He had a portrait in the attic that did his ageing for him.
And then I was dealt a blow by nostalgia’s double-edged sword by our young friend Rachel. There we were, at the bar, when she asked Maria her age. She posed that most personal of questions in the only way a young lady can get away with it – in total innocence.
Maria told her and Rachel said: “Oh, lucky you. You lived through the 60s.”
Of course, the answer Maria wanted to hear was: “You can’t be that old. I thought you were 32.”
But it released the memories of living through that legendary decade. We could reminisce and provoke envy from young friends like Rachel who said wistfully: “I wish I’d lived through the 60s.”
Ah yes. I remember it well. Well, some of it.
A decade when Britain was the swinging centre of the world, when our fashion and music swept all before it and made even American teenagers – the erstwhile spoilt brats of the universe – want to change their nationality. Of course, we were very selective and only adopted a few of them, like Jimi Hendrix.
We were Cool Britannia, even in Huddersfield. The town is only 200 miles from London which was accessible for weekend trips to hear music and stalk Carnaby Street and the Kings Road and nearly fall into the Thames from the rear of The Prospect of Whitby.
Not only that. Every town or city produced its own music and a swinging scene that revolved around coffee bars and night clubs and local bands. It was only rock and roll, but we liked it. And, boy, did we enjoy it. Or is it a case of the older I get, the better it was?
This was the era when music liberated teenagers who were growing up in an austere country that still vividly remembered the war. Ideas and ideals, it seemed, were the province of the young. Nothing was impossible. And society – and music – were never the same again.
Rachel reminded me that we were lucky to have lived through the 60s, the era of the Beatles, Twiggy, Biba, mini skirts, hot pants, Mini cars, Mary Quant and universal love. She reminded me that, inside, I’m still only 25.
But the next morning, I staggered to the bathroom and stared at my reflection in the mirror.
By heck, I thought. Is that me? Perhaps if I shaved off my beard I might look younger underneath? Then again, better not. It could be that the beard is the only thing holding my face together.
Dorian Gray, of course, had that portrait in the attic to keep him forever young while all I’ve got is a grey beard.
But, then again, Dorian Gray didn’t live through the 60s.
Do you have memories or pictures of the local swinging 60s scene? Send them to me at the usual address.