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Whenever I reveal I was young in the 1960s, people’s eyes grow round with envy. ’ Well, I was there and I can, unfortunately, remember the 60s all too well.
Then they add, saucily: ‘But of course they say that if you can remember the 60s you weren’t there!
And although I’ve no doubt it was a fantastic – or ‘fab’ as we used to say – time for men, for women (or young girls as we were then) it was absolutely grisly.
Because when it came to sex, we were, of course, the trailblazers for a completely new attitude, and blazing trails is always horribly uncomfortable.
We were the ones with the hacksaws and dust masks, clearing our way through the sexual undergrowth, getting covered with scratches and gashes and slipping into invisible swamps.
It’s true, my mother did thrust a booklet into my hands when I was about 12 which started: ‘The body is built of little bricks, called cells.’ There was a brief page on reproduction which referred to seeds – which I’d only ever seen in small paper packets named Carters – and that was about it.If you can imagine emerging from this repressed background into the swinging 60s, equipped with a contraceptive pill that had only recently become the hugely popular and completely reliable form of birth control, you can also imagine how ill-prepared we all were for what was to follow.True, we’d been brought up to say ‘no’ to sex, but the only reason for that was because we might get pregnant.And if we’d got pregnant then of course we might have been thrown out of our parents’ home, or forced to give the baby up for adoption.Before the law changed in 1967 there were abortionists around, but they were illegal, and you couldn’t go to one without paying a lot of money in used notes to a dodgy doctor off Harley Street. It’s worth remembering, too, that feminists at that time were not even a glimmer in their father’s eyes.
But now, armed with the pill, and with every man knowing you were armed with the pill, pregnancy was no longer a reason to say ‘no’ to sex. We had been brought up to kowtow to men, to defer to their wishes, to listen wide-eyed to their views.