For the sake of tidiness we like to group historic periods into, erm, historic periods; things are just neater that way. Terms like the Reformation, the Dark Ages, the Age of Discovery vie with the Olde Days, Bygone Tymes and Yesteryear. There is a shared idea of what these time periods refer to without any real understanding of what they actually meant or even when they happened.
The 1800s can be summed up as Georgian Times and the Victorian Age. The former is flouncy and directionless, post-1837 the Empire Struck Out; Great Britain became Top Dog. Then the dog up and died. Following a brief Edwardian period (which a mere half century later caused Teddy Boys) the Great War (a spat between three cousins: the King, the Kaiser and the Tsar) was followed by the Roaring Twenties, the Depression of the '30s, the Warring Forties, the Nifty Fifties and of course the Swinging '60s.
In 1967 a review of Sergeant Pepper in a proper newspaper said that there was nothing about the album that would have been possible a decade earlier. That may have been overstating things a bit but there is no doubt that Jerry Lee Lewis wasn't writing A Day in the Life in 1957, Chuck Berry wasn't playing Lucy in the Sky. 1969 was more different to 1961 than 1769 was to 1761. Or 1701 to 1799. Probably.
Is it fair to say that the 1960s began grey and ended in technicolour, while the 1970s began in glorious sunshine and ended (at least in the UK) under a big cloud?
1970 was something of a watershed year. A year when some of the old certainties disappeared - the half crown, the ten shilling note and the Beatles all ceased to be legal tender; the last vessel trading solely under sail, the Thames Barge Cambria, carried her last cargo.
On the other hand the age of majority was reduced from 21 to 18, the Gay Liberation Front orgaised its first march, the first Glastonbury festival happened, the first page three girl appeared (time to retire now), the Range Rover (the original Chelsea Tractor) was launched, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked a plane which was forced to land at Heathrow. Just like Leila Khaled said.
Did these things have anything in common? Only that they probably made Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells reach for his green biro and blast off an angry missive to the Daily Mail. Whose readers are still disgusted.
Musically speaking the top ten for this week (Feb 7) in 1970 included Jethro Tull and Badfinger, but also Edison Lighthouse (number 1 with Love grows where my Rosemary goes), Peter Paul and Mary were leavin' on a jet plane, and Rolf Harris was enjoying success with Two Little Boys. A new entry in the top 40 was I was born under a Wanderin Star by Lee Marvin which reached No 1 a few weeks later.
March 21st: no1 Wanderin' Star, no 2 Bridge Over Troubled Water, no 3 Let It Be, no 4 I want you back by the Jackson 5 - Every one a winner: can you even tell me any song that has troubled the top 4 in the last six months?