I’m recycling an old post today. Hopefully you’ll forgive me – it is one of the better posts I have lashed together in the dim and distant past, even if I do say so myself.
Without further ado…
In the early hours of tomorrow morning, 47 years ago, a little boy was born at the John Radcliffe hospital, in Oxford, England. For the first days of his life they thought he might have a serious problem with his brain – given the size of his head – until a doctor overheard his grandmother mention that they never could find hats to fit his Dad when he was a baby.
That little boy was me.
Perhaps 1973 won’t go down as one of the more notable years. It doesn’t have the same instant recognition as 1066, 1492, of 1984. Anybody that paid attention at school would know that those years relate to the Battle of Hastings, the discovery of the North American continent by Columbus, and the announcement of the Apple Macintosh computer. OK, perhaps the Apple Macintosh is a bit of a stretch – maybe the book by George Orwell that countless generations of school children were forced to read during the late 1980s.
Year numbers are a funny thing really – given that they start at an arbitrary point in the history of the ball of mud we all inhabit as it whistles through outer-space, around a fairly ordinary G-Type main sequence star.
There are of course many and varied accounts of the pre-history of the ball of mud. Perhaps the most entertaining is that a bearded being dressed in bed linen conjured everything in the hereabouts during a few days of manic activity about four thousand years ago, before seemingly not lifting a finger ever again. Various peoples living on the ball of mud have debated over the skin colour, name, and rules set out by this mysterious being for at least the last two millennia. Some of them get incredibly angry about it.
Another idea proposed by more recent peoples furnished with inquiring minds – we might term them trouble makers – is that the some kind of colossal “big bang” happened at some point in the very distant past, much like a cosmological pinata being burst. This explosion furnished the nothingness with just enough building blocks to randomly evolve into what we now fail to agree on any understanding of. Following the lead of Arthur C. Clarke, we might opine that the complexity of the world around us is sufficiently difficult to understand that we might accurately describe the process by which it arrived here as “a kind of magic”.
Anyway. Back to 1973.
In 1973 the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and Denmark became members of the Economic community. At the time of writing just over half of those that can ever be bothered to vote for anything in the UK decided that on reflection this perhaps wasn’t such a good idea, and are busily destroying the economy and the future of their children to somehow prove that the world would have been a much better place if only people hadn’t wanted to talk to, or help one another in the first place.
Some very important things happened in 1973 too. An American rock band called “Aerosmith”, fronted by a man with an impossibly large mouth, released their debut album. For anybody reading this born at any point after 1983, albums were plastic discs scratched with wiggly lines, which when combined with the beak of a bird, would emit music (or perhaps that was the Flintstones? my memory isn’t what it once was).
Elvis Presley broadcast the first world-wide telecast by an entertainer, where he tried to beat the world record for eating the most hamburgers in one sitting. Or was it that he sang some songs about loving people tenderly, and trying to make a jail-house tip over? He did have a go at the hamburger challenge a few years later though, and died on the toilet mid-way through.
The Miami Dolphins completed the first (and only) perfect season in American Football League history, after defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in the Superbowl at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The rest of the world didn’t notice, because they all play Rugby as it was originally intended – without crash helmets, body armour, and with far fewer teeth.
George Foreman hit Joe Frasier into next week to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. He went on to a successful career selling cookers before completing a similar act on Michael Moorer 30 years later.
The World Trade Center opened in New York, instantly becoming the tallest building in the world (although beaten a month later by the Sears Tower). Nearly thirty years later it would almost ruin my wedding after a flying club in America didn’t think it strange that some of their students weren’t interested in learning about landing. It’s worth noting that the World Trade Center was modeled after a part of Skull Island, which lead to the 1970s iteration of King Kong climbing it’s heady heights while clasping a half-dressed Jessica Lange before ultimately being shot to pieces by the few helicopters that thought it wise to perhaps stay out of grabbing range.
In May, Skylab – a space station made out of leftover moon rocket parts – blasted off. A month later an emergency mission would be launched to repair it. When asked who broke it, the astronauts immediately pointed at each other. It turns out the repair was a bit of a waste of time anyway, because the entire enterprise ended up splashed across a huge swathe of Australia a few years later, narrowly missing built-up areas (of course in Australia, a built up area is often two houses, three hundred miles down the road from each other, but still)
In September, Jim Croce continued the long standing tradition of singer songwriters in America of getting on board planes that wouldn’t reach their destination.
In November, after a summer of being accused of all sorts of sculduggery, US President Richard Nixon told anybody that would listen that he was “Not a Crook”. Nobody believed him in the slightest, and a few months later his presidency was consigned to history (and a number of highly entertaining films starring Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, and Michael Sheen).
Finally, in December, the movie “The Sting” hit cinemas, causing the biggest spike in traffic violations ever seen in San Francisco in the weeks that followed – as twenty-something movie-goers attempted to re-enact scenes from the movie. San Francisco went on to become the cinema-car-chase-capital-of-the-world for decades afterwards.