My song today is ‘There Goes’. This song was written and recorded by American country music singer, Alan Jackson. It was released in July 1997 as the fourth single from his album, ‘Everything I Love’. The song reached the top of the ‘Billboard Hot Country Singles& Tracks Chart’.
During my late teenage years, my intentions regarding the dating scene were simple yet sincere. I wanted to fall in love with a beautiful young woman who was happy to share a relationship with me on the strict basis of romancing, dancing, and having a fun time. There would be no thoughts upon a possible marriage between us or even a relationship that extended beyond half a dozen dates. The reasons stated by me at the commencement of every new date were always upfront. I had no intentions of getting married before I had done some planned travelling abroad, and I did not contemplate marriage long before my 30th birthday, before which time, I could not see myself settling down to a life of marriage, parenthood and domesticity. I had planned to travel to Canada and live and work there for a few years when I attained the age of 21. I had been awarded a considerable amount of compensation from a traffic accident at the age of 11 years when a lorry ran over me and almost killed me, and this money would make such travel financially possible. ‘There goes’ my reasons to continue being a ‘bad boy’ where the young women who entered my life were concerned from my late teens onwards, into my mid-twenties.
Every generation lays claim to have come from the generation which was the last of the best, and the 1960s was no different for all people of my age. Within a matter of one decade, the vast change that would occur in society ensured that England and the rest of the capitalist world would never be the same again.
Prior to 1960, class structure, military might, market forces, trade, racial, sexual, and religious discrimination governed a country’s prosperity and determined its rightful place in the universe. Then something was to happen that would change the very nature of our country forever, something which would eventually destroy any concept of any longer being part of a nuclear family unit. The class structure that had existed for centuries in England started to hold less meaning for the overall populace, and power and status in one’s community began to be measured by what job a person did, how much they earned from their occupation, and what kind of lifestyle could their wealth buy them?
Even the land-rich but money-strapped aristocracy no longer wielded the power they once did as barons of the realm and lording it over the peasantry. Money people became more respected overnight as it dawned on those at the top table how necessary money was to one’s lifestyle, and how little title mattered if was accompanied by poverty.
The 1960s was probably the last decade in British history when class distinction was clearly on its way out as the landed-rich aristocracy were forced to give way to the social rise of the money class in their midst, while on the working-class front, better-educated families and a more business- orientated population started to fuel the aspirations of their poorer and socially inferior neighbours in a manner hitherto unseen or heard of.
Whereas the French and otherworldly countries tried to use the political systems of Socialism and Marxism to move their working classes to a more equitable level, and onto a fairer footing within society, Great Britain was more pragmatic in its approach. Ever since the time of Wellington and Napoleon, we had remained a nation of shop keepers. Overnight, the government of the day started appealing to the individual need of all classes to ‘better themselves in any way possible, and the best ways known was through the provision of better education, better training of the workforce through the spread of apprenticeships, along with a new way of how best to deal with one’s money.
Ironically, the answer to the latter was to come from the landed aristocracy in the form of a new British Prime Minister who was more at home shooting grouse than managing the overall affairs of a country. And yet, it was to take such a privileged person to see how money and credit could significantly alter the stock market and improve the nation’s prosperity, to the extent that before he left Office seven years later that he was able to boast to the British electorate, ’You’ve never had it so good!” He was called, Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, and he would lead his cabinet through six unprecedented years of increasing prosperity between 1957-63. The country could not remember a time when it had been so prosperous, that when our Prime Minister declared that the country had ‘never had things so good', we were all inclined to agree with him.
The country entered the era of ‘never had it so good’ where the common man and woman aspired to no longer be seen as being common and were prepared to work their backsides off to maintain their impression of family prosperity by ‘keeping up with the Jones’. Hoover salesmen at the time were reportedly selling more goods on the doorstep by simply indicating that one’s neighbour, Mrs. Jones, had just bought the more expensive model of this or that off him, whilst you were considering the cheaper and inferior brand. Nobody wanted to be seen as being ‘working class’ and so everyone who was anyone stopped describing themselves as being ‘working class'.
The money prudence which had governed the nation since the times of Victoria was rapidly exchanged by the desire to ‘have now’ and ‘pay later’. All our tea was being sweetened by borrowed sugar, but we were too blind to see what was happening in front of our very eyes. Everyone wanted bigger and better at a faster and faster rate than had hitherto been seen. All ‘want now’ would eventually merge and associate with ‘must-have now’, and waiting became a redundant activity.
It mattered not whether what one wanted was to put on the priciest and best wedding day ever, or to start off living married life in the best house our status would allow us to mortgage to the hilt, or to provide the best of everything for our children as they grew up, what we had not the money to buy outright, we obtained by alternate means.
As day follows night, and night, day, in time, every economic boom is followed by an economic crash of equivalent proportion. The dreams of a lifetime were destroyed by the greed of a moment, and hearts were broken through their unhealthy love of money.
My mother, who never had any money so therefore never concerned herself with the having of it would frequently say, “Here today, gone tomorrow!” Come to think, that is not much different than us saying “Here Goes” like today’s song.
Love and peace