The mid-‘70s

Perhaps my one remaining reader is wondering if The Galloping Skirt has just galloped off into the sunset with an unseemly flash of spinsterly ankle.

But what a few months I’ve had! Oy* Writing blogs is hard when your brains are on upside-down. My head was like that forgotten pocket of your handbag when you dive in to fossick for loose change and emerge with a fistful of 3-month-old banana. And as you can see, I’ve strayed a bit into the old multimedia, which not everyone can peruse at work. But – as we all know – writing is king. These fads of technology may come and go, but if you cannot start with a stick and a goat’s bladder full of ash then what use are you to anyone? I miss writing me blog – I’m back.

By way of explanation:
-Three weeks of no work, no clients, no income, not a single phonecall, down to the last $50 in my account, questioning point of being on planet and subsequent meltdown
-A good verbal walloping from two older-lady business mentors with jangly earrings and fierce glare
-Many weeks of frantic business with two fab new clients
-A dicky tummy
-Unsatisfying and unconsummated flirtation with unsuitable chap (story of life)
-In process of buying a new computer due to decrepitation of old one
-Practice in chorus line for Rock Bang!, music video for Die Roten Punkte
-Started writing songs (5 to date!)

Distracting, much?

Without straying into the tempting territory of ‘well Gen X is like this and Gen Y are like that’, today I’m going to have a good blab about the kids of the ‘70s – ‘my people’.

I’m sure you, like people of all ages, have become tired of hearing about the many achievements of the Baby Boomers: how they changed the world, how their music is better than all music penned by humankind, and how unlike anyone else on earth they cared about things that really mattered. My mother has a raging girl-crush on Maggie Alderson, purely because they both once read a magazine of the swinging ‘60s called ‘Honey’ (a publication I’m sure had all sorts of risqué stuff like ‘Macrame your own Dutch Cap’ and ‘Harold Holt: Sunken Dreamboat’). We kids will never understand. And do we want to.

But lately, I’m getting a bit of a Boomer-esque fixation with people of my own generation. And the older I get, the worse it’s getting.

You remember when you’re a kid, anyone doing anything of note seemed at least three centuries older than you. My list of admired people included all sorts: Harrison Ford, Carl Barks, Kenny Everett, Hergé, Grace Jones, Margot Fonteyn, Tom Baker and Simone Buchanan (for her sterling performance in Secret Valley). All older and far more fabulous than I. And as someone with two older sisters, I was convinced I would never catch up. There would always be someone more interesting, better looking, more talented and with better hair (that last one still stands).

But somehow, somewhere along the way, things, at last, seemed to catch up. These days, when I go to a meeting at one of the many graphic design/ad agencies/multimedia companies around town, they’re all run by people my age or younger. I go to the trouble to get all spiffed up and nervous, imagining I’ll be quizzed by a phalanx of ageing admen in ponytails demanding to know my cred, who then leap to their feet and shout ‘Ah-ha! You’re a fake!’ Get out, charlatan!’ But more often than not I sit with a puzzled air while Ms Gen Y hems, shuffles her notes and struggles while I attempt to lead her through the basics of delivering a good brief (believe it or not is not a criticism – most people couldn’t write a clear brief to save themselves). The whole thing is a delightful experience, we thrash out the finer points of aged care or luxury cars or whatever, then all sit round and have a good gasbag about the Ting Tings and quote the Boosh.

It’s exquisite, but rather rum.

People have also started making nostalgic retro flicks redolent with period detail, made in the ’90s. The new movie I’m reluctant yet keen to see, The Wackness, stars Mary-Kate Olsen and Ben Kingsley in a pashing role. As a person born in the mid-’70s, all I can think of is: Ghandi snogs one of the simian children from Full House? Ew! It’s being advertised as set in the dim, dark days of 1994, with original costumes, hip-hop and appropriately grungy, pot-smoking attitude. Does anyone realise researchers were paid money to find out this stuff? It was not so long ago!!

Spurred on, I consulted le beau Wikipedia, for people born around the same year as I. Although being Wikipedia, it’s a list of mostly actors and sports stars with the odd Bulgarian chess player thrown in, it’s a goodly list: Posh & Becks; most of the Spice Girls; Andre 3000; 50 cent (Fiddy!); Michael Bublé Shannon Noll; Sean Lennon; Fergie (from Black Eyed Peas, whom I thought was ancient); Jackie O (ditto); Natalie Imbruglia;; Drew Barrymore; Eva Longoria; Zach Braff; Chris Lilley; Jonah Lomu; Lauryn Hill; Jack Johnson; Tobey Macguire; Natalie Bassingthwaite; Anjelina Jolie (born 4th June 1975, same day as me); Parminder Nagra; Kate Winslet; Milla Jovovitch; Tiger Woods; Megan Gale; Peter Helliar and Charlize Theron.

I know there’s a few pointless people in there. And I also realise that just because you’ve made it to a page on Wikipedia, it does not necessarily mean you’re a success, inside and out. But there’s some pretty arright ones too. When I read about someone dandy like Jack White I obsessively scan the article to find out how he got to where he is today. How does an upholsterer become a rock star? Was he born a musician or did he have to teach himself? Did he ever just throw his arms up and say ‘oh it’s all too hard?’

Jamie Oliver (although, initially a wet-lipped fame-whore with an onscreen cast of ‘friends’) is no slouch either. He’s one of those rare people who’s taken all his celebrity and talent and influence and actually done something with it. What about that Fifteen Restaurant? Or the campaign to get decent food into chavs’ gobs?

Some of these people unfortunately bring on a certain amount of despair. Zadie Smith got her first publisher’s advance while she was at Uni, right around the same time I was busy being miserable at my parents’ house and despising myself and the world around me. And drawing dorky, unfunny cartoons in my smudgy left-handed style. But sometimes I like to imagine that if I were from London, black, gorgeous, ridiculously talented, married to a hot poet and endorsed by Rushdie himself then my life would be exactly like hers.

And my current obsession with Russell Brand continues undimmed – another 4th June 1975 baby. What idiot mistakes hasn’t he made with his life? No drug nor woman left unturned, if you love him or hate him, you can’t deny he seizes things by the scuff to give it a good shake. I recently turned a friend of mine onto him, and she summed up his appeal to us perfectly: “he’s got that whole early-‘90s thing going on” (see pic here with similarly 90’s man Matt Morgan) – long hair, unshaven, black jeans, named his cat after Morrissey, pointy boots. And we all are drawn to whatever it was that was rampaging throughout our own time – just like my Mum gets weak-kneed at the Michael York-esque honeys of ‘Honey’, I get a bit coy around louche, beardy fellows humming songs from ‘Superunknown’ and clutching a Melbourne Bitter – diff strokes for different folks I s’pose.

(As an aside – I think that whole Andrew Sachs thing was wildly unhinged – but a 78-year-old man has heard worse words than ‘shag’ in his life and is also capable of sticking up for himself, unlike his granddaughter, who was bagged out behind her back and took the brunt of the ire just for sleeping with someone – horrors! However I reckon you don’t get anywhere funny without taking a few risks and falling spectacularly on your face from time to time. Otherwise we’d all be about as humorous as Jonathan Ross. Check out Brand’s stand-up on YouTube if you don’t believe me).

And don’t get me started on others born around that time like the fabulous Amanda Palmer (who could clearly care less what people think of her) and hokum blues genius CW Stoneking.

Perhaps this is that whole old person paranoia is that thing where you say ‘hmmm Orson Welles had made Citizen Kane by the time he was 26’ and ‘Jimi Hendrix recorded Hey Joe by the time he was 24’ and other such unhelpful observations of self-flagellation. Which always leads to other comments like ‘well what exactly have I done with my own life’, a question that does not lead to the same discoveries as ‘why did that mould stop that bacteria growing’ or ‘why are there so many different flora and faunae in this strange land they call “Galapagos”’

Ah-hah! I think I may have hit upon what all this is about – it’s nothing more than procrastination. And spending too much time on Wikipedia. Onward ho, then.

*I’ve been accused of looking Jewish enough to think I can pinch a few of their fruitier expressions like ‘chutzpah’ and ‘schmuck’ – sue me.

8 thoughts on “The mid-‘70s

  1. I’m sad to report Patrick that there’s ANOTHER Jackie O – a C-grade Aussie radio celeb, who somehow cannot stop getting her face on the telly box. One of those leather bleached blonde thingos.

  2. BOO!! You have more than one reader!! i have known 2 other people born on the same date as me. One a pal (sort of as back then if you caught the bus home with the same people every day for years, you were pals of a kind), the other a boss. there was mutual sympatico on both accasions. Then i learn that i was born on the exact same day as zach braff. mk

  3. Boo! To wear out an already tired expression, you have captured the zeitgeist. I’m a ’74 baby, and I find myself trawling wikipedia for people of my beloved generation x and general demographic to see if anyone is as much of an abject failure as me. Bad place to look for failure, wikipedia. But yeah – I’m ridiculously proud of being born in the 70s – or at least, of not being part of gen y. It’s petty and trivial, but there you are. Also – welcome, welcome, welcome back!

  4. PS: Your list has made me decidedly depressed. Peter Helliar is younger than me? Fergie? Eva Longoria?! I thought all these leather handbags were as old as the hills. Perhaps, in the case of the latter two, because they’ve spent more of their lives in scary heels than I. That said, I don’t feel like as much of a failure knowing Natalie Bassingthwaite is among their number – I certainly wouldn’t trade…

  5. Kateoi: but remember that Wikipedia is concerned mostly with the trash – all the interesting scientists, economists etc may have been born on the same day but no-one would cross reference it!MK – she is back!!! Will I ever see you again??!! Zach Braff eh? It is not I who owns the box set of Scrubs!Thank you Susanna! And good to see you back too! There are some sad creatures out there we’re supposed to look up to, I know. I would prefer my lot to ol’ dead-eye Bassingthwaite, that’s fo shizz.

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