Cops and Robbers in 1965 England was still a kind of Ealing comedy: crimes rarely involved firearms. The denizens of F-wing were losers in a game they had been playing against the cops. In queues for exercise, the constant questions were 'What you in for, mate?', followed by 'What you reckon you'll get?' When Freddie and I responded with 'Suspicion of drug possession' and 'We're innocent, we'll get off' they would burst into laughter, offering: 'Listen, mate, they wouldn't have you in here if they had any intention of letting you off. You're living in dreamland, you are.
On first impressions, John seemed more cynical and brash than the others, Ringo the most endearing, Paul was cute, and George, with velvet brown eyes and dark chestnut hair, was the best-looking man I'd ever seen. At the break for lunch I found myself sitting next to him, whether by accident or design I have never been sure. We were both shy and spoke hardly a word to each other, but being close to him was electrifying.
It was as easy as breathing to go and have tea near the place where Jane Austen had so wittily scribbled and so painfully died. One of the things that causes some critics to marvel at Miss Austen is the laconic way in which, as a daughter of the epoch that saw the Napoleonic Wars, she contrives like a Greek dramatist to keep it off the stage while she concentrates on the human factor. I think this comes close to affectation on the part of some of her admirers. Captain Frederick Wentworth in , for example, is partly of interest to the female sex because of the 'prize' loot he has extracted from his encounters with Bonaparte's navy. Still, as one born after Hiroshima I can testify that a small Hampshire township, however large the number of names of the fallen on its village-green war memorial, is more than a world away from any unpleasantness on the European mainland or the high or narrow seas that lie between. (I used to love the detail that Hampshire's 'New Forest' is so called because it was only planted for the hunt in the late eleventh century.) I remember watching with my father and brother through the fence of Stanstead House, the Sussex mansion of the Earl of Bessborough, one evening in the early 1960s, and seeing an immense golden meadow carpeted entirely by grazing rabbits. I'll never keep that quiet, or be that still, again.This was around the time of countrywide protest against the introduction of a horrible laboratory-confected disease, named 'myxomatosis,' into the warrens of old England to keep down the number of nibbling rodents. Richard Adams's lapine masterpiece is the remarkable work that it is, not merely because it evokes the world of hedgerows and chalk-downs and streams and spinneys better than anything since , but because it is only really possible to imagine gassing and massacre and organized cruelty on this ancient and green and gently rounded landscape if it is organized and carried out against herbivores.
...TV was entertainment of the last resort. There was nothing on during the day in the summer other than game shows and soap operas. Besides, a TV-watching child was considered available for chores: take out the trash, clean your room, pick up that mess, fold those towels, mow the lawn... the list was endless. We all became adept at chore-avoidance. Staying out of sight was a reliable strategy. Drawing or painting was another: to my mother, making art trumped making beds. A third choir-avoidance technique was to read. A kid with his or her nose in a book is a kid who is not fighting, yelling, throwing, breaking things, bleeding, whining, or otherwise creating a Mom-size headache. Reading a book was almost like being invisible - a good thing for all concerned.
So exiled have even basic questions of freedom become from the political vocabulary that they sound musty and ridiculous, and vulnerable to the ultimate badge of shame-'That's so 60's!'-the entire decade having been mocked so effectively that social protest seems outlandish and 'so last century,' just another style excess like love beads and Nehru jackets. No, rebellion won't pose a problem for this social order.