It is difficult for me to pick a year that made me. I cannot think of one particular year that had any positive effect on me to the point where I could claim it made me. I had some years that were better than others. Good times sometimes spanned a number of years. Good things sometimes telescoped into bad things overnight. These were not unique to any year.
Certain years however had a deeply negative effect on me. I will not go into why 1966 and 1975 were years that I found difficult to recover from. It has to be said that these years were not years that I enjoyed. They certainly had a definite negative effect.
In January 1968 I was at the end of a long process of being called up in the draft. I had had this hanging over me for two years. There was some confusion about how many dates of birth were eligible but finally it appeared obvious I was called up. But then it turned out I was not called up. I did not know whether to be relieved or not.
By this time in 1968 I had talked myself out of three jobs in quick succession. I was still employed but if I am honest I didn't deserve to be. I was at the bottom of the rung employment wise and had no where else to go. And this was in the time of full employment. I was essentially a teenager who had not matured. I could not comprehend my situation and this caused me to make decisions that were self destructive. I destroyed my private life for one thing. Immediately I regretted it but could do nothing – the die had been cast. I had became alienated from friends and family and workmates. I withdrew into myself. I shrunk from society. I spent my time alone. I stopped enjoying life.
So 1968 could be called the year that I turned my life around. It could be said that it was the year that made me. It was a year that without any great planning on my part finally had a positive effect on me.
So what did I do.
In those days there was one thing that was life changing and was available to anyone.
I went to England.
In January1968 I had seen a film about Mary Quant. It was a short documentary shown between the main features and was the first film after intermission. It showed this girl about my age putting dresses into boxes ready for sale. They were all green but each dress was slightly different. She was wearing one of the dresses. She showed it off with pride and confidence. She said she had made it herself. She had an explanation for each dress as she wrapped them in expensive looking crepe paper and carefully put them into white boxes. They were all in the new mini dress style. The film had a soundtrack announcer extolling her virtues. How she had become a clothing manufacturer herself and was gaining a reputation as a fashion designer. London was becoming the fashion capital of the world and Mary Quant was leading the way. She spoke directly to the camera and was totally believable. She seemed to speak directly to me.
It was quite a short film yet it had a great effect on me because it gave me the idea I could go to London.
I was completely smitten with her from just watching this short film. I found her attractive and I found her clothes attractive. Here was a girl living out her dreams. What a life she must have had. She was successful and grown up. She was happy.
She also appeared to be totally free. Of course I knew her life had no connection to mine and that I was latching on to some dream in order to improve my life. I knew I was clutching at straws
I knew her situation was the opposite to mine. I could never join her world. Our paths would never cross. She was in a totally different league than me. But she was telling me I could do something. Somewhere inside of me she made a connection and spoke on my level. She somehow gave me confidence that I could do something.
She seemed to be saying that London was available to anyone. That there were exciting times to be had by being there. Just come. There was freedom here. The air was different. The very ground was different. You were free. You could walk the streets and enjoy yourself. You could live without feeling downtrodden.
At that time Australia was still tied to England. We were British subjects. We were welcome in England. We could go anytime. Lots of young people went.
Once the idea was planted in my mind it was easy and even inevitable. There was no looking back. This was my way out. In quick succession I obtained a passport and a ticket and I was away. I burned my bridges behind me.
The rest of the year was an enjoyable blur. I went from triumph to triumph. I finished up being pleased with myself and envied by others. 1968 was the year that made me.
May 24 2021