1965: The Year Modern Britain Was Born by Christopher Bray - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

Naked Truths

1965: The Year Modern Britain Was Born


Simon & Schuster 316pp £20

I felt culturally isolated, almost curmudgeonly, during the first parts of Christopher Bray’s new book. He contends, in chatty demotic, that ‘we’ had our tastes changed in music, painting and fashion by what happened in and around 1965. That didn’t happen to me, who was 33 in 1965. But I have consulted an intelligent neighbour who likes my kind of music, painting and clothes. She told me that in 1965, when she was 25, she liked many of the things Bray sets out, and that it was a pleasure to wear items for the first time that her mother had not chosen for her. She told me, too, that she liked the shop window near where she had lived in Shepherd Market, in which the female proprietor had lain, reflected in some cleverly arranged mirrors, stark naked. Those were the days! Bray reminds us that it was in this period that Dr Beeching ruined the railways, Bob Dylan began to regret his success, the rear-view mirror appeared (though my father’s 1936 convertible had one) and that ‘Change wasn’t just in the air – it was the air.’

Bray weakens his case by revealing in the final pages that he was only two years old in 1965, so ‘we’ doesn’t include him, and that it was only when he came to ‘full consciousness’ in the 1970s that he realised he had ‘just missed out on the greatest party

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