HISTORY NEVER REPEATS ...
John Lennon’s song Imagine was released in 1971. Here is 1971 New Zealand in a nutshell. Not an imported nutshell in those days though, probably a walnut, writes Ruth Spencer.
Here is 1971 NZ in a nutshell. Not an imported nutshell in those days though, probably a walnut, writes Ruth Spencer.
Imagine it’s 1971. It’s easy if you try: no fracking below us, above us only ozone. If you’ve ever dreamed of wearing flowers in your hair and spending a year in bed like the Lennon-Onos, welcome to our somewhat accurate local guide to living like it’s 1971. Set aside some time every evening to rinse out your nylon blouse, because smoking in the workplace is mandatory. You spend your tea break (white with one and a gingernut) daydreaming about running off to join the poets at Jerusalem, but your hair’s too short; you have to keep it that way to fit under the wig. Instead, head home to the flat and light a joss stick. It makes shepherd’s pie in front of Country Calendar feel a little more exotic, especially since you’ve experimented with a little curry powder in the mince.
Friday! Time to watch the only movie that’s playing at the local cinema. Bad luck, this week it’s Pufnstuf. Halfway through you’ll buy a chocdipped icecream, because there’s nothing else to do while the INTERMISSION screen is up — but at least it’s a break from Pufnstuf.
On Saturday there’s a cricket test radio broadcast, so invite a few friends over to sit on the patio and listen. Your conversation during the many lulls touches on Kiwi troops withdrawing from Vietnam. Baxter, you mention cautiously, said Holyoake would never be able to scrub his hands clean. Your mate Dave asks if he’s tried Swarfega. An ad comes on for a new restaurant frying Kentucky-style chicken in Auckland. Eleven herbs and spices! You can only think of seven — and one of them is salt.
Now you’re hungry, so spend several hours trying to get a charcoal barbecue to light while a cardboard tray of raw sausages sweats on the bench. This is a National Pastime, required of all New Zealanders. It will begin to rain sometime in the third hour. Eventually someone will go and get fish and chips, returning with steamy windows and a newspaper bundle dripping with actual dripping. The barbecue is also dripping — but not so appealingly.
In 1971 craft means crochet, so beer is a swappa crate of 750ml brown bottles. It’s only been a few years since the 6 o’clock swill and we still buy bulk. If you prefer wine, grab a nubbly bottle of Muller-Thurgau. Your teeth will be as sore as your head on Sunday morning but at least you’ll have a chic new candle holder.
Sunday’s for washing and doing the hoovering, a late roast lunch with peas the colour of Spanish moss and an aimless drive around. No shopping, New Zealand is closed on the weekend. Imagine all the people, waiting for a mall.
Broadway, Newmarket, July 5, 1971.