Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Monday Monday

If anyone's wondering what the hell was going on with yesterday's somewhat oblique post, what with the photo of Cilla and all (looking very 60s cool however) then I feel I should explain. At the weekend I attended the excellent 2013 Unofficial Histories Conference in Manchester. UH aims to 'discuss how society produces, presents, and consumes history beyond official and elite versions of the past'. I was kindly asked to chip in with a defence of council estates beyond the elite, academic, version of them, but along the way there were lots of other fascinating papers, for instance one that examined a lovely set of scrapbooks made in 1965 by the Women’s Institute to celebrate the organisation’s golden jubilee. Each village W.I. made their own scrapbook with an intention to provide a snap shot of village life at that moment in time. They were incredibly inventive visually - sometimes being a cross between a dadaist collage and a McKnight Kauffer London Underground poster - but the most interesting aspect of them lay in how they then seemed to openly and excitedly embrace the white heat of modernity, even in the most rural and, presumably, traditional of places. 

In addition to this, there were two papers that examined two very different sets of personal diaries dating from the 1930s to the 50s. One of these is beginning to be chronicled in an excellent blog called Socks for the Boys! which can be found here. It is well recommended so do go and have a look. The papers raised an interesting historiographical dilemma in how we can begin to reconcile history, fiction and memoir. I have no answers to this as such, other than to present the usual mish-mash of memories, photos, historical research, architectural criticism and odd references to pop music that you find on this blog. To add to that mix, the You're my World post yesterday offered some, erm, 'creative writing' - an excerpt from a not very good attempt to fictionalise my memories of growing up in the 1960s and 70s, that I've called Monday Monday after the Mamas and Papas song that has a particular resonance for me and my time on the Middlefield Lane estate. I hear those opening ba-da, ba-da-da-da's and I'm in my classroom at Heapham Road Infants, just five minutes walk away from home, in the summer of 1966, with those oh-so west-coast harmonies in my head, just as the caretaker's going by mowing the playing field. In the words of the fabulous Motown singer, Chris Clark, I want to go back there again. 


  1. Thank-you, Ian. Discovering your blog this last week has brought on the highest proof draught of charmed-nostalgia I've taken in a while. I've grown more interested in things generally social and post-war over the past few years and found you here via Owen Hatherley. Although I didn't grow up on a council estate my father spent his life in local authority housing (Eastleigh Borough, Hants). What I've read of your writing thus far has cast some helpfully suggestive glints onto what he did and stood for in his work.

  2. Thanks Luke - I'm really pleased you like it. Nostalgia's a good thing as far as I'm concerned - charmed as you say, but also a strong reminder of what was and could still be. What was it of Owen's that put you my way, and what kind of work did your father do in housing?

  3. Good to hear from you, Ian. I got a copy of OH's New Ruins several Christmases ago; finding, in the first chapter, that we had lived on the same street in Eastleigh (during different decades) has meant an added interest in reading his pieces since - I found your site listed on his 'Sit Down Man...'. My father worked for the borough council, I guess variously in planning and development of estates and LA property. He led the council's GIA project in the late 70s and got commended by RIBA and the Times for some extensive refurbishments under the scheme - 1977, I think. I sometimes wonder how he felt when, only a few years later, Thatcher let loose the right to buy. Most of the kids I went to school with would have lived on one of the main estates in the town and somehow I doubt that the same spirit of real community that I saw as a kid growing up in the 70s is very conspicuous now. I look forward to keeping up with your broadcasts! Best wishes.