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1970 through the eyes of an Englishman

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The BEV Retrospective - 1970.

This was a significantly light news year. I'll use the usual topics though, even if there isn't a great deal to say:
  • Vietnam war,
  • Politics and happenings in the US,
  • Politics and happenings in the UK,
  • Other world events.

Vietnam War.

In March, the US Army charged 14 officers with suppressing information related to the My Lai massacre. That November, Lieutenant William Calley would go on trial for it.

The following month, the US command sent troops into Cambodia to hunt out the Viet Cong. This provoked further public outcry. They would withdraw in June.

In September, Operation Jefferson Glenn, involving the US 101st Airborne Division and the South Vietnamese 1st Infantry Division began in Thua Thien Province. There is no substantive Wiki documentation. The operation would last until the following year, and was the last major operation in which U.S. ground forces were involved.

At peace talks in Paris, in October, a Communist delegation rejected a proposal made by Nixon as "a manoeuvre to deceive world opinion." Disregarding this rebuff, Nixon announced that the United States would withdraw 40,000 more troops before Christmas.

The same month, the Khmer Republic was proclaimed in neighbouring Cambodia, kicking out Prince Norodom Sihanouk. This was provoked by two factors, the insurgency of the Khmer Rouge that had begun a couple of years earlier, and the presence of Vietnamese troops in the country

At the end of the month, the worst monsoon to hit the area in several years caused large floods, killed 293, and left 200,000 homeless. The war was temporarily halted.

Nixon's policy of Vietnamization continued. The US handed over control of the air base in the Mekong Delta to South Vietnam in November. At the beginning of that month, the lowest weekly US troops death toll in 5 years was announced, and the figures had been low for several weeks. A week or so later, an entire week ended with no reports of US combat deaths. Nixon pursued a policy of attacking with money rather than men, asking the US Congress for $155 million to bolster the Cambodian government in its fight against the Khmer Rouge and North Vietnam.

Toward the end of November, a joint Air Force and Army team raided the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam, in an attempt to free American POWs thought to be held there. Unfortunately, the prisoners had already been moved to another camp.

The World Trade Center.
A Bad Year for Students

in February, a jury found the Chicago Seven defendants not guilty of conspiring to incite a riot, in charges stemming from the violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Five of the defendants are found guilty on the lesser charge of crossing state lines to incite a riot. Next month, a bomb being constructed by members of the Weathermen and meant to be planted at a military dance in New Jersey, exploded, killing 3 members of the organization.

In May, at a protest against the US troop incursion into Cambodia, four students at Kent State University in Ohio are killed and 9 wounded by Ohio State National Guardsmen, causing outrage among the general community, and particularly within student bodies. A few days later, 100,000 people demonstrated against the Vietnam War in Washington DC. Shortly after that, a further two students were filled, and 12 injured when state law enforcement officers fired demonstrators at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

As if to dispense some justice to the affronted, in June, President Nixon signed a measure lowering the voting age to 18.

At the end of the year, the North Tower of the World Trade Center was topped out at 417m, making it the tallest building in the world at the time.

Edward Heath - Britain's new PM.
Politics and Happenings in the UK.

The primary event in the UK was another election. PM Harold Wilson called an election as his time was more or less up, and he had a 12.5% lead in the opinion polls. However, it did not work out for him, and the Tories achieved a surprise victory by a narrow margin. Edward Heath (known as "The Grocer" by satirical magazine "Private Eye" and others as he fought the election on a promise to reduce the price of groceries) became the new Conservative Prime Minister. Bad balance of payments figures, released the week before the election, and the defeat of England in the World Cup may have been contributory factors.

The Greater London Council announced plans to build a River Thames Barrier at Woolwich to prevent flooding, and endorsed proposals for a new underground line - the "Fleet Line" - and the extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport.

Yes, definitely a light news year!
Other World Events.

In March, Southern Rhodesia severed its last tie with the United Kingdom, and declared itself to be a racially segregated republic. Responding slowly, the United Nations Security Council would demand that no government recognize Rhodesia in November.

Norway announced this year that it had rich oil deposits off its North Sea coast. This was to be the beginning of the era of undersea oil exploration and exploitation.

The month of September in this year led to the term "Black Septemberr" in the middle east. Following the 1967 war with Israel, Jordan lost the West Bank of the Jordan River, and thousands of Palestinians fled into Jordan, increasing the refugee population there to two million. The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization - Yasser Arafat - ordered the overthrow of King Hussein's "Fascist government" in Jordan. Syria, Iraq and Israel quickly became involved and Syrian troops invaded Jordan.

The US 6th Fleet moved into the Mediterranean, and the Soviet Union applied pressure to its ally Syria to pull out. Jordanian forces engaged the Palestinian guerillas, who were gradually driven out of the suburbs of Amman. The fighting would continue sporadically until the next year when King Hussein's forces drove the Palestinians out from their remaining strongholds and expelled them from the country. In the same month, PLO members hijacked 4 passenger aircraft from Pan Am, TWA and Swissair on flights to New York from Brussels, Frankfurt and Zürich.

Also that month, the Egyptian President - Gamal Abdal Nasser - died, and was succeeded 'temporarily' by Vice President Anwar Sadat.

To further reinforce the black aspects of the month, in Berlin, the Baader-Meinhof Gang robbed 3 banks, taking over DM200,000 in loot.

On a lighter note, October saw Soviet author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Solzhenitsyn is probably best known for his book "The Gulag Archipelago".

Damage to the Apollo 13 service module.

A DEC PDP-11 computer.

It was not a tremendous year for technology either. In March, the Concorde made its first supersonic flight, reaching 700 mph.

In April there was a very close brush with disaster for NASA. Apollo 13 was launched in an attempt to replicate the Moon landing feat yet again. This time, things went badly wrong. One of the two main Oxygen tanks on the service module exploded, and the explosion took out the second one. The crew - Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert - had to evacuate the service module and move into the lunar module for the rest of the truncated trip. The lunar module was grossly lacking in Oxygen supply and in facilities for dealing with human waste, not least the Carbon Dioxide exhaled by the breathing astronauts. It was a close run thing, but the crew were returned safely to Earth after four days.

In June, continuing their space efforts at a gentler pace, the Soviets launched Soyuz 9, a two man spacecraft that paved the way for space station missions, followed in August by Venera 7. This would become the first spacecraft to successfully transmit data from another planet.

By September, the Soviets were ready for their first lunar expedition, landing Lunokhod 1 on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains). This became the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.

In nerdland, at IBM, the Floppy Disk was invented by either David L. Noble or Alan Shugart (depending on who you believe). This was further enabling technology for the computing revolution that was yet to come.

A significant new computer introduced in this year was the DEC (Digital Equipment Company) PDP-11. DEC had done well with one of their previous offerings introduced in 1965 - the PDP-8. This was still selling, but DEC had somehow lost direction for some years. They had lost important developers, who formed a competing company called Data General. This company introduced a 16 bit computer called NOVA that started to cut into DEC's market, but also indicated the correct direction. In a crash development program, DEC created the 16 bit PDP-11 that quickly became a hit, very likely because of the many PDP-8 enthusiasts in academia and technological industry.

The PDP-11 had a very generalized (orthogonal) instruction set, and had a set of general purpose registers. These, memory, and input/output devices could all be addressed in the same way in its assembler language. Because of these, programmers saw PDP-11 programming as being powerful, easy to learn, an pleasingly elegant. It would quickly become a success.

The Saab 96.

So, it was 1970, I was 28 this year, and we were a little better off. We started looking for somewhere else to live, and for a better car. If I remember rightly, we found the car first, or possibly I should say I did. For reasons that I can't now recall in detail, I had developed a fancy for the Saab 96. It was rather sporty looking, had front wheel drive, was successful as a rally car, and looked as if it might last longer than some of the other cars that were around at the time. In those days, the underside finishing of British cars was appalling, and they would rot away from underneath in no time.

Saab is a Swedish car manufacturer, though the 96 used a German Ford Taunus 1450cc V4 engine. This also made the car quite lively. Elaine seemed to think it was OK, and we eventually found a second hand one the same colour as the picture at a price we could afford in a garage somewhere in North Bradford. I was delighted with it - it seemed like a 'real man's car'.
On the house front something set us onto the idea of looking for a house in Saltaire village.

Saltaire is one of those 'model' communities that was built by philanthropist and textile magnate Sir Titus Salt back in the 19th century. It was very advanced for its time. clustered to the south of Salts Mill, which logically was placed right next to the canal and the railway, on its north. The village had a hospital, a church, public baths, and a library. There were houses for the ordinary workers at the mill, and for their overseers and managers. You can see a map of the area at Google Maps.

The house in Albert Road.
All of this was built using local sandstone, including the slabbed roofs, and sandstone cobbled roads. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site,

The only thing that the village didn't have at the time was a pub, since Titus didn't approve of drinking. But there were plenty in the surrounding area.

These days, and to some extent even when we were considering it, it's very twee and fashionable. In 1970, the mill was only partly in use as a textile mill, and some of it had already been converted to other uses. The village was gradually getting bought by incomers.

We discovered one of the overseers houses was for sale at the bottom of Albert Rd at a reasonable price, so we put the Guiseley house up for sale, and made the move.

It was a decent sized three bedroom house, with kitchen, dining room and a fairly large living room. Actually, as things turned out, we mostly lived in the dining room that faced onto the back road. The living room facing onto Albert Road stood in splendid isolation unless we had company - very Victorian. There was a tiny garden at the front, and a concrete paved yard at the back - this would originally have been sandstone flag stones. The back road, also concreted over the cobbles, was wide enough so I could park the car there. The railway was just to the north, but it was in a cutting, so you could barely hear the trains. Our next door neighbours were a little noisy to start with, but then the husband/wife split up, and it got better.

I was already familiar with the commute, since it was part of the route I took when I was staying back at my parents house, and it was OK, no worse really that the drive from Guiseley.

We did some decorating, but there was nothing structural that needed to be done, and in no time we were ensconced in our new home.
Our friends Mike and Cherry came back from their stint in Japan this year. They wrote to us telling us their new address and telephone number, and a visit was arranged. We drove down to Walsall in the new car one weekend to see them, going by the route I used to use on trips to and from Harwell. Their kids seemed quite grown up, and Mike had put on weight. Cher looked a bit older, but the lust between her and me was obviously still on. We had a discrete word, exchanged work telephone numbers, and agreed that if the opportunity arose, we would take it.

At work, I got further responsibilities. The system of research projects required the preparation of a formal project plan. This would detail estimates of manpower requirements, and revenue and capital expenditure, and describe the project and what it hoped to achieve. Projects were reviewed annually, and the document was appropriately updated. The Regional Executive, probably at the direct instigation of my boss Leslie Young, now decreed that these 'job forms' should include some kind of cost/benefit analysis. Internally it was decreed that all new projects and project reviews must pass my desk, and I was to ensure that the cost/benefit analysis information made some sense, and that the estimates were realistic particularly in the context of the burden of service work on the research officers involved. In most cases this meant that I had to consult with the instigators of the project and concoct the cost/benefit analysis.

All in all, I now had plenty to do. To push me down the path, Leslie Young sent me to the CEGB's education centre at Buxton, in Derbyshire, to take the first-level management course. It was a week-long course, and by one of those coincidences of life, my friend Cher was to be on a training course of some sort for a company she had just started working for. I called her and we fixed on the Thursday night. I figured that by then I would be able to figure out a way to be away for the night and back possibly somewhat late in the morning.

All went as planned. I snook out early on the Thursday, and drove down to Peterborough - about a four hour drive. I arrived just before Cher got out of her course, and waited at the hotel where she was staying. We ate dinner somewhere just down the road, washed down with a fair amount of red wine, then went back to her room. A tremendous thunderstorm came in from the east as we got there. Her room was on the top floor, and it was quite exciting. We fucked each others brains out for several hours then arranged for a call at five thirty, and slept. I arrived back at the course an hour late, but that coincided with some break, so I just mingled in and I don't think anyone really noticed.

It was an enjoyable course in various respects.

Although Rachel was only just over a year old, we decided that we'd try a limited family holiday in this year. We booked a family room at a guest house in Llandudno in North Wales, and drove there in the new-to-us Saab. Llandudno is not Las Vegas, but it's a typical seaside resort, so there's a beach, and some things to do. We pottered about the surrounding area, visiting Carnarvon Castle and Anglesey, and driving as far as we could up Snowdon. As family holidays go, it was OK.

Back home, I explored the pubs in Saltaire and Shipley. There wasn't anything special there either, same as Guiseley, and the Commercial at Esholt was a bit of a distance and through Shipley town centre, so not a good drunk driving route. Nevertheless, I'd still go there some evenings, and we'd still go Sunday lunchtimes. Later at night, I discovered a small 'night club' called "The Elmer", in Shipley. It had a bar and seats with tables upstairs, and dancing to the current popular music downstairs, and it was generally jammed. It was supposed to be a membership club, and at first I'd get turned away sometimes, but after a while the bouncers got used to me, and I started to go there fairly regularly on Friday nights.
My classical music collection continued to expand. In particular, I became interested in Wagner, and acquired a several of his opera overtures - Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger, and Tannhäuser I would say. Then later I got a recording of an arrangement of part of Götterdämmerung - "Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey" - without any of the singing. As it happened, the Sadlers Wells Opera Company were to perform "Die Walküre" in English at a theatre in Leeds this year. I think one of my associates at work who was a music buff may have told me about it. I mentioned it to my friend Brian Mayes, saying that I didn't know anything about the singing bits, but I liked Wagner's orchestral music, and that I was thinking of going. Brian said he'd be interested in giving it a go too, so we got tickets.

Now Walküre is about four hours long, with only a relatively brief interval. Brian and I reckoned we'd die of thirst during the long evening performance, so, come the day, we turned up at the theatre in our raincoats, each with a bottle of wine that we had pre-opened in one of the inside pockets. The opera was magnificent. The four hours simply flew by, including the interval, when buying a couple of beers and getting them down your neck was a real challenge. The only untoward event was when one of us accidentally kicked one of the empty wine bottles down the balcony - clunk, clunk, clunk - part way through act 4. I was most impressed. The singing bits were great. I loved the rapid unexpected key changes and the rather atonal quality of the narrative singing, and it was in English, so I could understand most of it. I think Brian was pretty impressed too. I have been a Wagner addict ever since.

All in all, 1970 was quite a rich year, in considerable contrast the the previous sombre period.

I'm guessing that by now, we got to the cinema occasionally, it wasn't far to decent cinemas in Bradford, and there were parents fairly close who could presumably be pressed for babysitting occasionally. However, it's still difficult to distinguish films that I saw then from films I saw later on TV.

Christopher Plummer inspecting Soviet infantry.

The Worth Valley Railway.

The top five US top grossing movies were: Of these, I've seen M*A*S*H and Patton. Since neither of these would have been up Elaine's street, I presume I saw them on the TV later. Other movies that catch my eye in the list for the year are, Catch-22, Little Big Man, Waterloo, and Zabriskie Point.

I loved "Waterloo", since I've always been an avid reader of military history, and since the battle scenes were very well done, and on a very large scale. It was a combined Soviet/Italian film and used about 15,000 Soviet Infantry, and 2,000 cavalry. I must get the DVD of it one day.

British films of note were:

The Railway Children was filmed using the Worth Valley Railway, which all my children have I think loved at some point in their life.

This years number ones in the UK, with the odd number two, were:

ArtistTitleMonth Comment
Edison LighthouseLove Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)Jan
Lee MarvinWand'rin' StarFebLee Marvin's voice was a bit like mine sounds now!
Simon & GarfunkelBridge Over Troubled WaterFeb
Beatles Let It BeMarNumber 2, but one of the last Beatles singles
Norman GreenbaumSpirit In The SkyMar
DanaAll Kinds Of EverythingApr
England World Cup SquadBack HomeAprPatriotic sport fever
ChristieYellow RiverMay
Mungo JerryIn The SummertimeJunDefinitely a song of the 70s
KinksLolaJulNumber 2, but who could resist
Elvis PresleyThe Wonder Of YouJulYuk
Smokey Robinson & The MiraclesThe Tears Of A ClownAug/td>
Freda PayneBand Of GoldSep
Matthews Southern ComfortWoodstockOct
T RexRide A White SwanOctNumber 2 but ...
Neil Diamond'Cracklin' RosieNovNumber 3 but a favourite of mine
Jimi Hendrix ExperienceVoodoo ChileNov
Dave EdmundsI Hear You KnockingNov
Clive DunnGrandadNovThe Christmas hit - ah well, I suppose it was for the kids

The Who, live at Leeds.

In January this year, the Beatles were in the studio together for the last time. In April Paul McCartney announced at a press conference that they had disbanded. At the same time he announced the release of his first solo album. The following month, the last Beatles album "Let It Be", was announced, the title presumably a comment on their disbandment. By December, McCartney was suing to dissolve the Beatles' legal partnership. So are the mighty fallen!

Diana Ross and the Supremes also split up in this year.

In February, Black Sabbath's debut album, "Black Sabbath" was released. The same month, The Who made their one and only live album at the refectory of the students union at Leeds University. The Grateful Dead played an equally historic concert on the same date in New York City.

In August, the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 took place at East Afton Farm. Some 600,000 people attended, making it the largest rock festival of all time. Artists included Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Joan Baez, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Jethro Tull.

On September 18th, Hendrix died from a barbiturate overdose at a London hotel aged 27. His last appearance had been with Eric Burdon & War, at Ronnie Scotts Club in London.

A couple of notable groups, The Doobie Brothers, and Queen were formed in this year.

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