30 November 2015

Growing up in the 70s. Part 3. A Decade of Decadence.

Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin Beauty & the Beast
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
Beauty & the Beast
Famous for:

 "Je t'aime... moi non plus" (French for "I love you… me neither") is a French duet written by Serge Gainsbourg. It was written for and sung with Brigitte Bardot in 1967, but that version was not released until 1986. In 1969, Gainsbourg recorded a version with his lover, Jane Birkin. It reached number one in the UK, and number two in Ireland, but was banned in several countries owing to its sexual content. The song has been covered by many different artists.

I adored my teenage years, Britain in the 70s, I had a blast;

life was a gas. (Marc Bolan and T.Rex "Life's a Gas" from the album "Electric Warrior"1971)

  There was so much going on, so much change and so much freedom.

So much of everything, I could write about these glorious years until the cows come home, which is why I am now on part 3!

I will add links to parts 1 and 2 at the end of this post.

The 70s, a decade of decadence;

 a sexual revolution,  musical innovation, youth subcultures, anti-war demonstrations, protests and rebellion, streaking (running naked through packed sports events).

Where fashion was concerned, the slogan could have been;

”Anything goes”.

It was the Age of Aquarius.

 The Age of Aquarius
 The Age of Aquarius refers to the advent of the New Age movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
The inspiration for the musical; Hair.

Hair tells the story of the "tribe", a group of politically active,hippies of the "Age of Aquarius" living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam war.

By 1970,Hair was a huge financial success, and nineteen productions had been staged outside of North America. 

It was a decade of beginnings; the first Earth day celebration, the first Gay Parade in New York City, the first test tube baby, Louise Brown.

 It was also, a decade of endings, The Beatles Split up, Elvis died and the Vietnam War finished.
Atari introduced the Pong game.

Atari Pong

A decade of property booms, oil crises, five official states of emergency, four general elections and four Prime Ministers.

 A decade of change, heat waves, haircuts and Ford Cortinas.

State of Emergency Dominic Sandbrook
State of Emergency

Dominic Sandbrook

Find out what it was like living in Britain in the 70s, and read reviews of this informative book, "State of Emergency" Dominic Sandbrook HERE 

The most significant change was for women; Germaine Greer caused uproar with her first book;

“The Female Eunuch” Published in 1970, which became an instant bestseller, a book pushing for equality and women’s rights.

"The Female Eunuch" Germaine Greer
"The Female Eunuch"

Germaine Greer

See details and read reviews of this ground-breaking book; "The Female Eunuch" Germaine Greer HERE 

As late as 1971, women were banned from going into Wimpy bars on their own after midnight, the explanation for this, being that only prostitutes were out alone at that hour.

Only eight short years later, Britain had its first woman Prime Minister;

 Margaret Thatcher.

Women had come a long way!

Margaret Thatcher First woman Prime Minister of Great Britain
Margaret Thatcher

First woman Prime Minister of Great Britain

I missed the tail end of the 70’s, the last three years, as I had left England for Greece in February 1977, but oh, I heard all about the goings on there.

 My father sent me letter after letter, informing me of the strikes, the unrest, inflation, no family news, just that, doom and gloom!

I was more worried about missing out on the punk rock era and Vivienne Westward;

Anarchy in the U.K

Vivienne Westward Queen of Punk
Vivienne Westward

Queen of Punk

What I didn’t miss out on though, were the countless hairstyles;

pageboy, afro or long and flowing.

We wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett and would watch hours of “Charlie’s Angel’s” to study how she achieved that coveted look.

 Farrah Fawcett
 Farrah Fawcett 
Flew to fame in "Charlie's Angels"

Suddenly it was all about unisex, men and women wore the same clothes, used the same perfume, had the same haircut, both boys and girls had the layered, feathered
 “Rod Stewart cut”

 The Shag

The shag haircut
The shag haircut

 A most unfortunate name!

Around this time, there was a popular hair setting gel on the market; Dippity Doo, it came in either pink or green, different strengths I suppose.

It left your hair stiff and crunchy!

I’m sure Marc Bolan, of "Telegram Sam" fame, with his unruly, shaggy corkscrew curls, must have secretly bought this by the ton!

Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan

Metal Guru

"I ain't no square with my corkscrew hair""

"Telegram Sam" T.Rex from the album "Slider" 1972

Setting gel

For that hard and crunchy finish.


The 70s were all about Glam Rock;

 David Bowie, Elton John, Rod Stewart and many, many more.

Rod Stewart Glam Rock
Rod Stewart
Glam Rock

"If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy, come on sugar let me know"

You weren’t hip if you didn’t have the right gear:

 Platform shoes, flared trousers, leopard skin, snake skin and fur, all accompanied by copious amounts of glitter.

David Bowie
David Bowie

In the beginning Ziggy played guitar

Shiny was the name of the game.

Biba was all the rage.

Biba Chic
Biba Chic

Biba, created by Barbara Hulanicki.

From a mail order company in the 60s, to global phenomenon of the 70s.

"I love old things. Modern things are so cold.
I need things that have lived."

Barbara Hulanicki

Laura Ashley created her romantic floral prints.

Laura Ashley
Laura Ashley Design

Laura Ashley, a welsh secretary, living in London,
 started out, making napkins, tea towels and tablecloths, in an attic in Pimlico.

Kate Bush wow’ed us.

Captivating Kate Bush
Captivating Kate Bush

Wow, Wow, Wow.

Blondie, aka Debbie Harry, wore double denim.

Blondie Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry

"Nothing has changed much since the 70s, women need to shrug off criticism,
as I did, back in the day"
Debbie Harry

Ossie Clarke gave us bohemian flair.

Ossie Clarke 70s Designer
Ossie Clarke creation.

70s Designer, from "Up North" in Salford.
Clarke met his untimely death at the age of 54, when he was stabbed to death, in his council house, in Kensington & Chelsea, London, by his former Italian lover, Diego Cogolato.

Gypsy wanderlust reigned.

Gypsy inspired
Gypsy inspired

"Luckily , I was raised by a kind of gypsy family,
 which is why I always got on better with people who worked in circuses,
 than with other kinds of actors.
My mum was so carefree with us in a beautiful way. We were used to sleeping anywhere"

Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin and sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The 70’s began minus two heartthrobs;

 two idols who were no longer “available”.
In 1969, not one, but two members of The Beatles, had the audacity to get married!

That was the beginning of the end for The Beatles.

John & Yoko Married in Gibraltar 1969
John & Yoko
Married in Gibraltar

Paul & Linda  Married 1969
Paul & Linda
Married 1969

Highlights of The 70s


The first floppy disk is introduced.

Egyptian President Nasser Dies and is replaced by Anwar el Sadat.

Gamal Abdel Nasser President of Egypt
Gamal Abdel Nasser
President of Egypt


Mick Jagger marries Bianca in St. Tropez, France.

Mick marries Bianca in St,Tropez, France Bianca wears suit by YSL
Mick marries Bianca in St.Tropez,

Bianca wears a white suit by YSL


Terrorists attack the Olympic Games in Munich.

Watergate scandal begins.

Richard Nixon 37th President of United States
Richard Nixon

37th President of United States


Paul Getty kidnapped.

U.S pulls out of Vietnam.

Paul Getty III
Paul Getty III

Kidnapping victim.
 Died in captivity in 1973.
Heir to the Getty oil fortune.


Patty Hearst kidnapped.

Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from U.S.S.R.

Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Baryshnikov

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else.
I only try to dance better than myself"


Arthur Ashe is the first Afro-American to win Wimbledon.

Microsoft is founded.

I met MGG (My Greek God).

Arthur Ashe
Arthur Ashe

Defeating Jimmy Connors in 4 sets.
Wimbledon 1975


Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot becomes prime minister (and virtual dictator) of Cambodia after Prince Sihanouk steps down.

Israeli commandos attack Uganda's Entebbe Airport and free 103 hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers of Air France plane.

Pol Pot
Pol Pot

A monster ranking with Hitler, having sent millions of
Cambodians to their death in work camps.


Elvis Presley dies.

Marc Bolan Dies.

I swapped England for Greece.

Marc Bolan rides his white swan for the last time.

Marc Bolan rides his white swan for the last time.


Mother Teresa wins The Nobel Peace Prize.

Sony introduces the Walkman.

Sony Walkman Father to the iPod
Sony Walkman

Father to the iPod


Shah leaves Iran after years of turmoil. Ayatollah Khomeini takes over.

Conservatives win British election; Margaret Thatcher becomes new prime minister.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The last Shah of Iran.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The last Shah of Iran.

And thus we leave the phantasmagorical 70s and head towards the 80s, towards an era of big hair, shoulder pads and filofax.

I had all three!

If, like me, you adored the 70s, treat yourself to this wonderful book, take a trip back in time, to that decadent decade of "Glam Rock" and "Disco dancing".

"A likely Tale,Lad" Mike Pannett
"A likely Tale, Lad"
Mike Pannett

"A Likely Tale, Lad" is a fabulous, humerous book from Mike Pannett, (A Yorkshire born Lad) about growing up in the 70s, full of nostalgia.

I've read this and other books by the same author and can't praise them enough.

See details of  "A likely Tale, Lad" HERE

For more 70s fun, see another couple of posts about this unforgettable decade of extravagance at the links below:

See The 70s. Growing up in Leeds Part 1. HERE

See The 70s. Growing up in Leeds Part 2. Christmas HERE

27 November 2015

A Greek Myth? From The Champs-Élysées, Elysian fields, to the Lost City of Atlantis.

Elysian Fields
Elysian Fields

Elysian, a word from Greek Mythology relating to Elysium, meaning;

 Blissful, blessed, celestial, heavenly, ethereal.

An adjective describing something peaceful and perfect, something divinely inspired something beautifully creative.

 “Being of such surpassing excellence as to suggest inspiration by the gods”

According to Greek mythology Elysium was, to some extent, paradise, a resting place for pure souls, but a paradise reserved only for heroes, or for those chosen by the Gods for their righteousness.

What does this magical place look like?
To some, it maybe a sunny beach, a carefree place, to others the heights of a solitary mountain, peaceful and still.

I'm from Yorkshire, God's own county, the best place in the world!
In my minds eye, I see Elysium as the emerald green fields, and as the unique dells and dales, of my beloved Yorkshire!

Swaledale. Yorkshire

Here these heroes would remain, after death, in Elysium, in this Utopia, composing poetry, singing and dancing, basically having the time of their life!

 A second one that is, and then a third!

The lucky ones allowed entrance into this mythical wonderland, were reincarnated three times, and had to be judged three times by the three judges of death;
 Aeacus, Minos and Rhadamanthus.

The three judges of death.  Aeacus, Minos and Rhadamanthus.
The three judges of death.
 Aeacus, Minos and Rhadamanthus.

Homer, in The Odyssey, names Rhadamanthus, one of these three judges, as the ruler of Elysium, while Pindar and Hesiod state that it is Cronus, ruler of the heavens and King of the Gods, son of Zeus and Europa.

Take your pick, I’ll go with Cronus!

Cronus Peter Paul Reubens
Peter Paul Reubens

How did these righteous souls reach this heavenly place?

Were they ferried across the Styx by Charon?


Did they pass through the gates of Hades, (Rumoured to be found in Epirus, Northern Greece, on the River Acheron ) into this glorious underworld, thankful not to be arriving in Tartarus,
 the most horrifying, darkest and deepest corner of Hades?

The Gates of Hades River Acheron .Epirus. Northern Greece.
The Gates of Hades
River Acheron
.Epirus. Northern Greece.

Most importantly, where is this idyllic place, where are these Elysian Fields?

 In Greek Ἠλύσιον πεδίον, Ēlýsion pedíon

For some it truly could be Paris!

Paris” you say, “Why Paris?”

The most famous of all Elysian Fields in the world, is right at the heart of Paris; we all know it, but maybe by another name, the French version:

  The Champs-Élysées!

The Champs Elysees. Paris
The Champs-Élysées

Amazing as the city is, this city of light, Paris is not the Elysian Fields mentioned in Greek mythology.

Homer liked to think that Elysium could be found on the Western edge of Earth, by the stream of Okeanos, situated at the Equator, in which floated the habitable hemisphere.

The Stream of Okeanos takes its name from the Greek word; ecumene or oecumene meaning habitable.

(οἰκουμένη, oikoumene)

This is an ancient Greek term for the known world, later, in Roman times, the civilized world.

Elysium or Elysian fields were also known as The Fortunate Islands or Isles of the Blessed, located in the Atlantic sea, and said to be two in number.

In Greek mythology these legendary, winterless, heavenly islands are said to be inhabited only by heroes,

Are we looking for the lost city of  Atlantis, The Sea of Atlas, in Greek mythology, Atlas being the Titan God who held up the sky, standing at the ends of the Earth, in the West.( According to Hesiod, the ancient Greek poet)?

Are Elysium and Atlantis one and the same?

Atlas Image; Howard David Johnson
Image; Howard David Johnson

Atlas, a true hero indeed, has been connected with many places, but is mostly associated with the Atlas Mountains in Northwest Africa, modern day Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Here’s a summary of what we have so far; islands in the Atlantic, on the western edge of Earth, near the Equator with no winter season.

 More locations mentioned in connection with Elysium or Atlantis are:


 Aeolian Islands ( Αιολίδες Νήσοι in Greek, Aiolides Nisoi are a volcanic archipelego in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Sicily, named after the demigod of the winds Aeolus).

 Aegadian Islands (Aegatae Nisoi, in Greek Αιγάται Νήσοι, meaning the islands of goats, are a group of five small mountainous islands in the Mediterranean Sea, off the northwest coast of Sicily, near the cities of Trapani and Marsala).


 Canary Islands


  Cape Verde



In his book “Greek Religion” Walter Burkert connects Elysium with Mount Teide on Tenerife, called the White Isle by explorers, owing to the mountain’s snow covered peak.

“Greek Religion” Walter Burkert
“Greek Religion”
Walter Burkert 

See details of Walter Burkert's  informative and interesting book, "Greek Religion" HERE

Walter Burkert makes the connection of Elysium to Tenerife and the White Isle as a result of a reference to an Elysium, in a tale set in Mesopotamia (Modern day Iraq).

“The Epic of Gilgamesh”

"The Epic of Gilgamesh"
"The Epic of Gilgamesh" 

 Learn about "The Epic of Gilgamesh" and read reviews HERE 

Dilmun is mentioned in this epic, “A place where the sun rises in the land of the living, where heroes were taken by Gods to live forever”

Dilmun is associated with a white isle.

Surely another Elysium?

Mount Teide Tenerife The highest mountain In Spain.
Mount Teide Tenerife
The highest mountain In Spain.

All the hundreds and thousands of holiday makers, having the time of their lives, living it up on heavenly Tenerife, thinking that they have found paradise, where they never really feel the chill of winter, are they really holidaying on Atlantis or maybe in Elysium?

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

More great Greek mythology HERE, Halcyon Days; a love story.

25 November 2015

The Greek Ordodox Church And Her Saints: 25 November Feast Day Of Saint Catherine Of Alexandria

Saint Catherine Bernadino Luini
Saint Catherine
Bernadino Luini

Today, 25th November, The Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Referred to In Greece as;

 The Great Martyr Saint Catherine

 ἡ Ἁγία Αἰκατερίνα ἡ Μεγαλομάρτυς

Patron Saint of Philosophers and preachers.

Katerina is the version of the name used in Greece, or, more officially, Aikaterina.

In The Roman Catholic Church, Saint Catherine was regarded as one of the fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of Saints worshiped for their acts of praying on  behalf of others.

In 1969 The Roman Catholic Church removed her feast Day from the church calendar, only to restore it in 2002, as an optional Feast Day.

Saint Catherine  Carlo Crivini
Saint Catherine
Carlo Crivini

Catherine, daughter of Roman Emperor Constus, governor of Alexandria, Egypt, (Early 4th century) converted to Christianity at around the age of fourteen, after experiencing a vision of The Madonna.

Catherine went on to convert hundreds to Christianity, before being martyred at the age of eighteen.

A thousand years after Catherine’s death, she was one of the saints, Joan of Arc claimed to have seen appear before her.

Saint Joan Of Arc Albert Lynch 1851-1912
Saint Joan Of Arc
Albert Lynch 1851-1912

When Emperor Maxentius began the persecution of Christians, Catherine visited him to admonish him for his cruel acts, Maxentius then called fifty pagan philosophers and preachers to debate with Catherine, hoping they would oppose her pro-Christian arguments.

The plan backfired, not only did they end up agreeing with Catherine, many converted to Christianity and were at once put to death!

Roman Emperor Maxentius
Roman Emperor Maxentius

Maxentius had Catherine imprisoned and  while in captivity, many of Catherine’s visitors, over two hundred, Maxentius’s wife Valeria included, converted to Christianity.

Saint Catherine Caravaggio 1561-1610
Saint Catherine
Caravaggio 1561-1610
Pictured here with the spiked wheel, her principle symbol

Maxentius, try as he might, could not get Catherine to renounce her religion, her devotion to Christianity, not even when he had her tied to the wheel, a terrible instrument of torture, and flogged.

This is where the phrase “Catherine wheel” originates from.

The Terrible wheel of torture
The Terrible wheel of torture

Failing to break Catherine through torture, Maxentius then tried to woo her with a proposal of marriage, only to have Catherine retort;

 “Jesus Christ is my husband”

Maxentius threw in the glove and had Catherine beheaded.

The beheading of Saint Catherine. Icon in Barcelona Cathederal.
The beheading of Saint Catherine.
Icon in Barcelona Cathedral.

Tradition has it that angels carried Catherine’s corpse to Mount Sinai, where, in the sixth century, Emperor Justinian established what is now know as Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt.

Saint Catherine’s monastery is one of the oldest working monasteries in the world, it also contains the oldest working library.

Saint Catherine's Monastery Sinai
Saint Catherine's Monastery

Through the years, and with the increase of pilgrimages to the monastery, a small town has grown up, complete with hotels and swimming pools!

In The Middle Ages Saint Catherine became one of the most important of The Virgin Martyrs.

With the reported discovery of her body, (Around 800AD at Mount Sinai) with her hair still growing and healing oil flowing from her body, shrines dedicated to Saint Catherine began to spring up over Europe.

Canterbury Cathedral England
Canterbury Cathedral

Rouen Monastery in France claims to house her fingers, alters and shrines honouring Saint Catherine are to be found in Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in England.

Westminster Abbey England
Westminster Abbey

A phial of healing oil, is housed in Westminster Abbey, London, brought back from Mount Sinai by King Edward The Confessor, King of England

Edward The Confessor.  King Of England 1042-1066
Edward The Confessor.
 King Of England

Saint Catherine’s College, Cambridge, founded on Saint Catherine’s day, 25th November 1473, was created for a small group of students to exclusively study theology and philosophy.

Saint Catherine’s College.  Cambridge
Saint Catherine’s College.

Devotion to Saint Catherine remains strong; the number of people visiting the Monastery in Sinai is ever increasing.

Visitors are presented with a ring, which has been placed on her relics, as an amulet, believed by the faithful to be blessed and so, keeps them safe from harm.

Ring of St Catherine, given to pilgrims visiting Mount Sinai.
Ring of St Catherine
 Given to pilgrims visiting Mount Sinai.

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