Blaise Tapp: 1990s - a pleasant decade to live through

Noel and Liam Gallagher from Oasis.
Noel and Liam Gallagher from Oasis.
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It is human nature for every generation to think that their heyday was a cut above everybody else’s.

How many of us have been bored to tears by Great Uncle Nobby’s tales of the wartime Britain in the 1940s and how we have never had it so good or the soporific stories of our parents about the groovy 1960s. Is there a more tiresome saying than ‘If you remember the 1960s then you weren’t there’?

While all prefer our own nostalgia there are some decades which provoke a degree among any of us. Despite the boring clichés, who wouldn’t wanted to have grown up in the age of the Stones and Beatles as well as Free Love?

And it seems that there was a market for 1980s nostalgia before that decade had even finished even though it did not have that many redeeming features – the music was largely turgid and the fashion a thing of nightmares. Yet, for many, memories of stonewashed denim and Wham! outweigh all the negatives such as Margaret Thatcher and Aids.


It has long been a mystery to me why the 1980s gets a much better press that its successor, the 1990s, which spawned much better music and, from my point of view, far fonder memories.

Even the Spandex-clad Seventies, the era of paedophilia and casual racism has a place in more hearts than the decade which saw Mandela released from jail and become a giant of the 20th century.

This may well be because, despite the technological revolution and the emergence of many great bands and musical trends, they did not seem to be particularly ground-breaking. The fashion of the nineties seemed to be borrowed from a bygone age as did some of its headline musical acts such as Oasis – who faced the constant accusation that they were nothing more than a Beatles tribute act.But the point of the 1990s is, even though the early part was heavily steeped in a seedy party drugs culture, it was a pleasant decade to live through.The pace of change was rapid: at the very start of it only people who wore braces to work had a ‘mobile’ or car phone while by the very end you were in the danger of being the odd one out. To anyone my age - in danger of troubling 40 – the 1990s still seem just like yesterday even though in reality they are light years away. Exactly how far in the past that time is has been skilfully highlighted in the excellent This Is England 90.

The sublime acting and gripping drama aside, the real genius of this programme lies in how expertly it captures a bygone era. From a reminder of how taking a private call in one part of the house was reliant on the person who took the initial call not eavesdropping to the nightmare of finding an obscure location without a SatNav, this is a show which strikes a chord with millions.

I can now almost taste the 1990s – a rancid cocktail of cheap continental lager, fag ash and Fray Bentos pies – the ones that went in the oven in their own tin. While I can remember nearly most of the 1990s, which largely involved waking up on strange sofas, it doesn’t mean I had any less of ball than my parents.