Easter is a time of chocolate eggs, symbolically reminding us of the rebirth of nature as it moves to the greens of spring.
It used to be the time when I would run away from home looking for my own rebirthing in places like Epping Forest or down at the sea in Brighton. But I found no rebirthing, no ability to shake off my indolent and flat and troubled teenage life and would be returned by the police to the domestic mismanagement of home life in a Fulham council flat. But still there was a stirring in my mind that Easter and spring were possible launchpads for a new life.
How dreamy and prone to illusion I was to believe I could leap out of my pained existence into something new. I probably watched too many advertisements that promised a new life through cigarettes or washing up liquid, or instant gravy called Bisto or Oxo. I had got into the mindset that change could be instant if you had the right product like a magic carpet to lift you to somewhere new. Instantaneous transformation through products.
The pattern of life then, in the foothills of consumerism when choice was increasing but still limited for the working classes, did promise relishes to look forward to. But something went wrong for me one Easter when I discovered something so completely different from all that I had come from. That I wasn’t heading for the hoped-for consumer paradise of my social equals. That I could – and did – aspire to something different.
At Easter, aged 15, I was an out-of-work packer and shelf filler and bike delivery boy and I ran off towards Epping Forest to build a new life among trees and nature. I would never return to the urban jungle of my birth. This was me being me. But under the influence of what? What we often forget is that what we hold dear to us and see as our social preferences will be shared by enough people around us to make us heard. I did not wake up and indiscriminately fall in love with Elvis’s music, I was joining millions of others. Likewise with Cliff Richard and quiffed hair; it didn’t just drop out of the sky directly into my mind. I was following trends.
- Everyone is afraid of poverty, so why haven’t we declared war on it?
- Walter Sickert – an artist of controversy and complexity
- My Victorian grandmother, who never stopped mourning the Queen
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