Jayne Dawson: Welcome back, you young people, we have missed you

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It seems fitting somehow, don’t you think, that the Summer of Love was fifty years ago?

A cruel reminder of time passing for those of you who remember it but, still, lucky you for being around at such an amazing time.

Because that was the pivotal summer when age faded and youth took over.

This very week half a century ago thousands of people watched Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding all play for free at the three-day Monterey Festival in California, and kick off a wave of alternative thinking that never quite went away.

That summer, the tectonic plates shifted, there was a massive cultural change.

The hippies had arrived, and from California their ideas wafted over here, carried on the breeze like a cloud of patchouli oil.

The counter-culture took centre stage, and the youngsters led the way. Their gurus, back at the beginning, may have been middle-aged, even elderly, but the youngsters grabbed their ideas and ran with them, they blazed bright with passion and ideas that made their mums and dads gasp.

All hell broke loose. Suddenly everything was about being young, being different to all that had gone before. This new generation were impatient, angry. They didn’t like the way things were being run, they didn’t want to do what their parents had done.

They wanted to look different, of course they did, but they wanted more than that - to change the world no less. Who can blame them? After two world wars and plenty of smaller ones in and amongst, it was not in great shape. So the young marched, protested and got involved. They turned on their parents’ generation and accused them of making a mess of everything - which was a valid criticism after all.

Meanwhile, blokes who had served in the war, seen other young men die, were angrily contemptuous of dandified younger men with their long hair and girly clothes and soft ideas.

And women who had gone in the blink of an eye from being a child to child-rearing themselves were frightened of and frightened for young girls who wanted a bigger life and wider horizons. Where would it all end?

Well, in the end, it all fizzled out.

True, the culture of youth stayed with its music and fashion but in the things that really mattered, in the worlds of politics and money and housing and jobs, the oldies clung on.

Young people stopped protesting and became apathetic. No one followed the process of democracy anymore, lots of them didn’t even understand it.

Youngsters largely absented themselves from the world of politics as if it was nothing to do with them. Students spent their university years trying to scrape together a CV, living off their parents while they spent their summers doing unpaid work in the hope it would lead to something with an actual wage later on.

Governments would come and go and the yoof remained seemingly oblivious, enjoying their bands and their beer and not bothering to use their precious, priceless vote.

But then something happened. Last Thursday, our young people stepped out of their homes and into the polling station. At our general election, they voted.

I wonder quite what it was? Was it the tuition fees, or was it the zero-hours contracts that made it impossible for them to build a future?

Was it all those unpaid internships, which were only ever available to the ones with parents affluent enough to support them?

Was it that they were sick of post-millennial austerity and grimness, like that earlier generation were sick of post-war rationing and grimness?

Maybe it was all of the above. But it’s good news. Fifty years after that seismic summer, we look set to have another one.

Welcome back, young people. Lots of love.


We love to know what other people eat behind closed doors. Why else do we study the contents of the supermarket trolley in front quite so carefully?

The foodstuffs we shove into our mouths when no-one is watching are endlessly intriguing, and if the other person is a well known name then our interest is multiplied.

We remain fascinated by the fact that Elvis Presley seemed to like only foods that could be stuffed with peanut butter and deep fried in vats of oil.

Make that famous person royalty and our interest is practically obsessive. No wonder then that people have been studying just why and how Queen Victoria turned from a seven stone bride to a woman whose waist measured fully fifty inches, making her almost as wide as she was long.

The answer it seems was ...just food in general. Although I imagine the nine pregnancies did not help.

This queen spent her childhood eating bread and milk, a spartan diet imposed on her by her mother, presumably because it was the health food of the time.

But once queen she rebelled fast, and wrapped her chops around any lovely grub she could find, enjoying mutton chops for breakfast, rice pud for lunch and at least six courses for dinner.

It means, I think, that she was misunderstood. When pictured looking glum in later years, Queen Victoria was probably just a bit hungry, and looking forward to her next huge feast.


It really is a bit much of Alexandra Shulman to say that women can’t have it all.

She has been editor-in-chief of fashion glossy Vogue for 25 years, she has an adult son, she lives an affluent, privileged lifestyle in London.

If anyone is the living embodiment of a woman who has it all it is Alexandra Shulman.

After her quarter of a century at the helm of the world’s most famous magazine she is now leaving to “experience a different life”.

Few other women have her luck, it is true. Most are juggling many conflicting and stressful demands - but that doesn’t mean they would be happier with a lesser life.

Holding down an interesting job while raising a family is hard, but it is also full of interest and fulfillment.

Alexandra has experienced that in spades and shouldn’t discourage other women.