In the late 1970s, time was more clearly defined. Shops shut at 5 o’clock so that the workers could go home and make tea. Some shops had half-day closing and there was nothing open on a Sunday. Pubs rang a bell for last orders and kicked everyone out at 11, or half past 10 on a Sunday. The TV channels did the same and offered little of interest to anyone aged between 13 and 30.
For young people, there were no computers, mobile phones or any of the entertainment that goes with it. All I could do is get out of the house and gather with friends in a park, a deserted shopping street or sitting on a wall somewhere. Everyone was bored; everyone made their own entertainment, mostly with a selection of dare games, bitching and moaning, along with exploring the neighbourhood and getting up to no good. In many cities of the UK, this hanging out would include breaking into empty properties, drinking, smoking or drug-taking. But at the time, that wasn’t an option in my small town.
When battery-powered cassette players became available, the hang-outs became more focused on music. The spread of punk to Northern cities and the DIY fanzine world eventually woke us up and changed the topics of conversation. No longer “Who’s a slag?” but “Let’s form a band,” and along with that goes hours of discussion about the band name, the band ethos, the possible places to play or get instruments from.
I reckon that if I’d had a bedroom full of technology with computer games, social media and Internet access, I might have had the idea to form a band, but I probably would never have actually got around to it.