There is an article in today’s ‘Observer’ by Will Hutton which asks the question: “Have the baby boomers failed Britain?” Following on from a television documentary entitled “Grumpy old men” last week the article did little to revise my belief that what we most certainly have is a collective group of egoists who are continuing to fail themselves.
Certainly, at fifty-four-and-a-half years of age, as one of the “too young to be a hippy, too old to be a yuppie” generation, I might claim some qualification when it comes to making that statement. For not only did I have to listen to their music and wear their clothes, but I was also close enough to be influenced by that collective belief that metamorphosed into some sort of “stop the planet, I want to get off” attitude. However, luckily enough, growing up in working class Glasgow, it is fair to say that the wolly thinking which came with the psychedelic colours, the beads, and the very long hair, was always tempered by a social realism that has continued to hold me in good stead.
No, most of the baby boomers failed because they didn’t really want to achieve anything apart from a trip to their very own Mecca and their own very private high; both of which are encapsulated in the song, “If you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Or at best, there was a limited rebellion against their own middle class backgrounds. And their continued failure? Well, most of them are, of course, still thoroughly middle class. However, it could very well be part of the failure is also the failure of the city I am living in at present.
You walk through ‘Liverpool One’ and there we have it blasting out of the shops, being howled out of tune by the buskers, being karaoked in the pubs, “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as if they are here to stay,” “Imagine all the people living for today ……”. Give me a break folks; the Beatles were good in their day, they still are good on occasion, but does a whole city have to act like Paul McCartney, who is also still blasting out the same tunes from the sixties, and all those other grumpy old men who never really wanted to change anything and who are still living in their imaginary past. All the more so when that city and the rest of the planet was radically changed for the worse.
No, here is my advice to the baby boomers, the grumpy old men and all the other “yesteryear” people; listen to someone from the “too young to be a hippy, to old to be a yuppie” generation, someone who was exposed more than most to your day dreaming, stop dreaming and if you feel you have failed by not having changed things sufficiently, then it is never too late to start. Moreover, who knows, if you do make that effort at least you don’t have to die a grumpy old man. Which brings me to a final point, isn’t it interesting that the majority of those who actually did change things in the sixties are either long since dead or still quietly trying to changes things