1967 and all that…
Happy 50th, Cotswold Life. So what were we all up to when the first pubescent publication popped out and hit the newsstands? I was sporting a rather natty pair of dungarees and showing early signs of being a social climber. The vague, sepia ridden memories I have include Listen with Mother, trying to work out the difference between my two older sisters, the presence of, or yearning for, a big dog to join the family and a huge ambition to one day write for a classy, glossy, edgy, entertaining publication dedicated to the Cotswolds. I might have made that last bit up.
As well as the birth of Cotswold Life, 1967 gave us Ed Balls, local radio, Noel Gallagher, Sergeant Pepper, Paul Gascoigne, Milton Keynes, Radio 1 and Puppet on a String. Harold Wilson was PM, we lost Donald Campbell on Lake Coniston and two local creative forces waved goodbye… record producer Joe Meek and poet John Masefield.
Fast forward fifty years and what advice can I give to my marvellous magazine on the challenges of hitting 50? To help me prioritise my response I’ll take some inspiration from another cultural classic that emerged at the same time - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The good things about being 50 include not caring a jot about what people think of you; the fact that with a little hard work you can still have a degree of fitness and energy and set yourself some physical challenges; the untold pleasure you can have talking about Chopper bikes, rotary phones and white dog poo; and, as the kids leave home, you can fantasise about the dream of reclaiming your bathroom.
The bad side of 50 includes worrying about your kids and parents whilst at the same time being eternally grateful you have both; knowing you are well over halfway through your life; experiencing crushing moments when younger colleagues look at you blankly when you mention the following… Dennis Waterman, reel to reel tape recorders and phone books. The one that really punched me in the guts was the day I shared a story about reporting on the miners’ strike in 1989 whilst working at BBC Radio Nottingham. One keen, young, hungry, newshound sprung to life and noted that they knew every detail of that news story because they’d done it at school in history!
The ugly bit of being 50 is simple. From a male point of view it takes you longer and longer to wash your forehead.