At least when I claimed that I didn’t know if I wanted to see The Great Gatsby there was a degree of conjecture about the whole thing. Today I listened to the new album by Vampire Weekend twice and couldn’t figure out if I liked it or not. I definitely liked a few of the songs. I had heard a couple of the songs already and knew I particularly liked one of them. But the majority of the rest – I was left stumped.
I am beginning to wonder if my opinions aren’t being misdirected somewhere. Is there a short circuit in the idea ether? Is there someone sat in a nearby house pretty sure that I don’t want to see The Great Gatsby and that I do like the new album by Vampire Weekend?
I have started watching the Up series. For those unfamiliar with the documentary series: in 1964 Granada profiled some 7-year-olds as this would be a glimpse of the executives and shop stewards of the year 2000, or so the introduction to the programme went.
The first show, 7 Up is brilliant. It’s little more than interview with 7-year-olds. We don’t see their parents or much else other than them talking alone or in groups – at the end we do see them all at a party together. The show supposedly shows a cross-section of society. In a basic way this is achieved – to a degree. There are definitely working class children and definitely some poshos and there seems to be representatives of the aspiring, upwardly mobile middle classes (one child’s parents are both teachers – but they are from Liverpool, being a good example). There is even one non-white person. It was 1964 remember.
7-year-olds in 1964 were awesome. They talk about getting married and checking share prices in The Financial Times – not the same person admittedly: the middle-class lads don’t really seem that comfortable around girls – or boys from the working class group. Which is fair enough as there is a little shit cockney lad walking around punching them in the back when they try to have fun at the end of show party.
By 14 Up all the posh lads are even more socially awkward – but even more confident that they will succeed in life that they were at seven, which was pretty confident. The cockney lad was even more of an arsehole than he was when he was seven, which was pretty much an arsehole. He seems pretty certain that he will be OK though, if he doesn’t make it as a jockey he will just become a black cab driver. The posh ones are not the only ones who know where they are going – I watched half of 21 Up before bed and he’s learning the knowledge on his moped and running bets for punters at the local dog track.
The main change in 21 Up is the awkward little Yorkshire lad, one of the few interviewed in isolation, who has gone from looking at the ground and saying odd little Yorkshire things (“n’eart a farma-ling don shebrash” etc) to a strapping, overtly confident young man. I’m anxiously predicting he will be one of the best ones.
Two of the three working class girls are married in 21 Up, which I would say is a sign of the times – but they are married to men so there clearly wasn’t just women getting married off here. So, excuse my earlier ‘insight’. That said, none of the male subjects are married. Most of them are socially awkward middle-class types who’ve been driven to concentrate on getting a degree. Apart from the two lads who started the series in a boy’s home. Who aren’t exactly having bad lives (meat factory & afro/Australia & unkempt mass of curls).
The hair journeys are interesting – adolescence multiplied by social change generally equals challengingly large hair for all concerned and these documentaries do not fail. My only fear is what remainder of 21 Up and, more tellingly the mid-80sness, of 28 Up have to hold.