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.