The forbidden words formed long queues; memoires.

The seventies were already getting very modern. You would have thought the world belonged to those wearing jeans and perms. Yes, that’s right, I too had a perm done. It was a sign of male emancipation. The journey ( and who is not on ‘journey’ now-a-days?) of freeing  the shackles of the sixties started in my case a few years earlier with a vasectomy performed by two female doctors, one of whom had the word ‘Cock’ in her surname. I remember both of them crouched down at the bottom of the bed, intent on the snapping of my vas deference.  A good omen. The perm ensured acceptance and added to confidence.  The vasectomy a discontinuation of the family who already counted three in an over-populated world. Why could the world of blond curls and untidy beards not be an outward sign for  those who owned the world?

What was not so modern though, and it seems ludicrous today, that words were still banned. Portnoy’s Complaint and Lolita were banned. The literary experts whose job it was to look after our morals and employed as Censors needed an ambulance after they had ploughed through those books. They were maimed for life. That’s what words can do. Words like ‘cunt and masturbation’, ‘breasts and erection’ and the unspeakable ‘penis’. When the books were finally released from being pent up by the tens of thousands on our wharfs in grey camouflaged wooden crates, pandemonium broke out. Police on horseback had to whip back and restrain rain-coat wearing men, blunt-stone women, all queuing up to get a copy and read all about banned words. There were no signs, as feared, of anyone going in a sexual frenzy. There were no rapports of fornication on the foot-path outside Hans delicatessen with the signs of Heisse KnackWurst for sale, or indeed inside the KFC take-away.

A few years earlier, similar horse-backed police had to restrain theatre patrons in front of the Metro in King’s Cross where after weeks of parliamentary arguments ‘Hair’ was finally allowed to be shown. Permission was given after agreements were reached whereby during the ‘nude’ part the undressing of all the actors and dancers were to be strictly performed under a large army canvas which would then be hoisted up by a crane. The nudeness had to be done in absolute stillness and no body parts moving. A single quiver in testicles or breasts and the show would be cancelled. It was an electrifying moment that we all waited for. Slowly the large canvas was lifted. The audience mouse-still. Not a flitting of an eyelash. Real nudes. Unbelievable. Afterwards, the patrons silently left the theatre, overwhelmed by it all. Many went home got undressed and looked in the mirror!

Next morning people queued up for the bus. Life seemed to go on the same as before. It always does. On week-ends the lawnmowers happily rattled on and the suburban nature strip wasn’t forgotten either. Petunias were being planted, rockeries cemented and fences re-painted.

It was always thus.

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25 Responses to “The forbidden words formed long queues; memoires.”

  1. Carrie Rubin Says:

    “The nudeness had to be done in absolute stillness and no body parts moving.”—Oh dear, I hope nobody sneezed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dorothy brett Says:

    I remember your perm Gerard, it was rather nice

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bkpyett Says:

    Can’t imagine you with a perm, Gerard! What freedom, until you speak of censorship. Thanks for bringing back the 70s.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. auntyuta Says:

    Portnoy’s Complaint and Lolita – I definitely read both books; I cannot remember when I read them, but I think by the time I got my hands on them, they were not banned any more.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    Oh my Goodness I forgot about the perms lol. I looked like a poodle when I came out of the hair salon, it took almost a year until my hair was halfway back to normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. petspeopleandlife Says:

    ” Many went home got undressed and looked in the mirror!” That sentence made gave me a good laugh Gerard, you have a way of inserting a sentence here and there and those unexpected words are always funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. elizabeth2560 Says:

    Your posts always bring flash-backs for me. Those ridiculous hair-styles, the musical “hair’ and all its controversy, and laws on censorship in general. It baffled me when I in 1978 when I went to the US (the world of supposed enlightenment) and they would have black tape covering up pieces in magazines.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    By the time I got around to reading all questionable books, they were’t as racy as real life. Nice post Gerard.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, there was nothing like all the scandals unfolding in divorce cases when proof of infidelity had to be provided. Detectives lurking underneath hotel-beds. A camera flash-light going off and, bingo, all would be revealed in the next mornings newspaper.


  9. joannesisco Says:

    Wow – your words brought the 70s back alive again! The ubiquitous perm and tittering over stuff that’s minor and common-stuff by today’s standards.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Welcome joanne,
      Yes, those were the days alright. I wonder if the perm industry is still going? I remember Friday night as being curler night when many a woman had a box full of curlers which were electrically heated and then put into hair to produce curls or waves. This was all in preparation for the big Saturday night dance event with rocking around the clock etc.


      • joannesisco Says:

        OMG – I forgot about those stupid electric rollers! Totally useless in the hands of someone like me who had no idea how to roll my hair without looking like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket.


  10. Patti Kuche Says:

    Those perms of Aquarious hiding all the sunshine!


  11. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    It’s baffling. I was drawing nudes in a life class when Hair was on in London. We went to see it (all singing and dancing) but it was under-whelming, to be honest.


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