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Meditations on a summer of love

TO mark the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Readers Digest have done a poll that shows the hippie influences of the Swinging Sixties are still alive and well in the 21st century.

They also found that more than a third of those voting said it was the era they would have liked to have been a teenager.

Ah yes. The Summer of Love. I remember it well.

Scott McKenzie was singing San Francisco and encouraging people to wear flowers in their hair which was all very well if you were on Haight Ashbury but a bit of a handicap if you combined the flowers with a kaftan and tried to buy a Party Seven at an off licence in the UK.

"'Ere. What's that in your hair?"

"And what's that you're wearing?"

"A kaftan."

"Looks like a frock."

And assumptions and comments would be made in those days before political correctness got a grip.

It was a fun time to be young and there was a genuine feeling that we could change the world with Lennon, The Beatles, Dylan and a whole host of singers and songwriters stressing that all you need is love.

Which, let's face it, is better than rap lyrics and gangsta songs about murder, mayhem and rape.

The poll found that while only one per cent of those surveyed actually considered themselves to be hippies, many of their lifestyle choices reflected hippie culture and values.

Almost half of today's Britons believe in questioning the establishment and agree there are too many rules in society; 82% believe the planet needs saving; 46% agree with the slogan Make Love Not War, and more than a third think there is never any excuse for war.

Thirty five per cent say they have smoked marijuana and eight per cent have taken LSD, while 43% say they are open to meditation.

Katherine Walker of Reader's Digest says, "There was much more to the Summer of Love than taking drugs, sleeping around and shirking responsibility.

"Our poll shows that the hippie era produced many innovative, enduring ideals that British people of all ages have come to live by. In some ways they really did change the world."

Well it certainly influenced my way of thinking and Maria and I are proud to consider ourselves to be old hippies. We sold up and bought a multi coloured campervan and headed off to Europe to live the dream.

The fact that the multi colours were blue and rust and that the dream suffered a severe set back when the engine blew up is neither here nor there.

Ah yes, the Summer of Love was the start of an era that had a seismic affect on the way a generation saw the world.

It was the summer I started wearing beads, my hair down to my shoulders, an Afghan coat that smelled like an uncured Yak and gave the peace sign to everyone.

"And you, too, mate."

That summer we played naked rounders at midnight in the back garden of a small mansion I was looking after (and careful where you put your feet) and that year Maria and I got married.

The rest of the world still loved Britain and Sandie Shaw won the Eurovision Song Contest with Puppet On A String, The Monkees were Believers and The Stones, Jimmi Hendrix and Jim Morrison and The Doors were playing rock and roll like it had never been played before.

Today, people can still sing along with the epic tunes of 40 years ago: 84% can hum or recite Yellow Submarine, 79% know Puff the Magic Dragon and 58% can sing along to Scott McKenzie's San Francisco.

All together now, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair ..."
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Article Type:Column
Date:May 28, 2007
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