The sad death of Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones from Dad's Army) has made me finally appreciate and understand just how nostalgic I have become. Growing up Dad's Army was one of the highlights of my school days week. I knew nothing of the horrors of real war unlike my father who was a ww2 veteran and had been discharged with serious wounds.
I later understood that Dad's army didn't mock the war or its effects on people, rather it paid tribute to the Great British spirit of keeping a dignified stiff upper lip even in the darkest and direst of circumstances. Inept, incompetent and decrepit the Walmington-on -Sea Home Guard may have been but they were courageous to a man and even as a pre-teenager I could vaguely on some level appreciate this.
Today's sad obituary made me think of a time when some truly terrific people were famous; in fact it made me think of a time when only truly terrific people were famous. The most famous boxer in the World was Muhammad Ali (Can you name the current Heavyweight Champion?) Clint Eastwood was the biggest Movie Star and Farah Fawcett was the most desirable lady in the world. It was also the return of the Movie worlds fascination with Aliens which continues to this day, indeed the first Alien movie came out in 1979.
As a boy I had been in love with old T.V. reruns of the 1950's classics Invasion of the Body snatchers and Thing from another world on T.V. but Alien was a new era in space terror! Even Star Trek was brought back in 1979 with 'The Motion Picture' featuring mine and my brothers (older) childhood heroes Kirk and Spock. Even Superman was resurrected from the 1950's (don't forget he was an alien!) and to further satiate our thirst for space the Bond film was Moonraker.
In real life British Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher and I don't believe we've seen a more significant one since-at least not on the world stage in any positive sense. Do you really think there will be an Oscar winning movie like the Iron Lady being made about Dave Cameron 30 years from now? Most especially memorable for me about this time was that the most famous bodybuilder in the world, Arnold Schwarzenegger was becoming big in the movies with Terminator and Conan.
It wasn't all popcorn and androids though, culturally in the movies this was a great time too with Kramer v Kramer and The Deer Hunter emerging and remaining all time favourites with many. My favourite era also had a soundtrack that was equally good. This was supplied by Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Blondie, the Eagles-even The Village People were there! On the small screen we had a late night show called The Old grey whistle test to introduce us to new bands. While we waited for this to come on we couldn't watch DVD's and even video players were rare but we had Happy Day's, Charlie's Angels and reruns of Dad's Army to keep us amused. Clive Dunn's death triggered something in me that was mixed with melancholia and nostalgia, a slightly sentimental longing or affection for a familiar past to which I can never return. A time that I have a much happier association with than anything I can think of today. I'm well aware one often views ones childhood with rose coloured specs but 79-80 was truly a great time. I could go to see ACDC or Iron Maiden for the grand sum of 50 pence! I could get fish and chips on the way home and still have change-you see my point?
Woody Allen, whose own masterpiece Manhattan emerged in 1979 recently made Midnight in Paris I believe to help put his own nostalgia fixations to rest. In the movie the hero is magically transported back to Paris in the 1920's and meets historical greats' Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, etc. He then learns his own lesson when a contemporary girl whom he is in love with reminisces about an earlier Paris of the late 1800's inhabited by Toulouse Lautrec, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin. Doomed then it seems we all are to be permanently dissatisfied with the here and now. Helpless and unsuspecting victim to emotions triggered by a familiar smell, sound or keepsake, or by conversations with generational contemporaries or feeling lonely as an expat like I sometimes does. Not wishing to return to the past exactly but an emotional sense of loss. A longing for the feelings of comfort our memories seems to have. A feeling of belongingness or sociality, to a time when we felt our lives were more meaningful and positive. It's a resource which people my age use to harness strength--a fuel source that allows them to cope more effectively with the vicissitudes of life.
My God, I'm beginning to sound like Gomez Addams but let me tell you why. Recently I went to see the new Bond film and this was saturated with a touching sense of nostalgic indulgence with Bond returning to his childhood home for safety from a predator who appeared to be at least his equal only to witness the demise of his very own replacement Mother-Figure 'M'. No! Please don't kill 'M'! Stop the world I want to get off-and if it's not too much trouble drop me anywhere between 1979 and 1980.
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