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Art, in the days when the patron was the dole.

A Fortnightly Double Review of

State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
by Dominic Sandbrook
£30 768 pages Allen Lane.

By Anthony Howell
and Michelene Wandor.

DOMINIC SANDBROOK’S LATEST SURVEY covers only the first four years of the 1970s – four dozen months in which Britain lost the Beatles, but gained Edward Heath. It certainly seemed to be an out-of-balance moment. But creatively, it may have been, as one of our reviewers writes, a ‘golden age’. We asked two poet-performers whose work began to take shape during that four-year period to look back at culture afloat in a new decade.


‘I shake my head at our attempts to conjure up the dream that is the past, especially the more or less immediate past. One friend of mine started a dream notebook, but stopped when the dream of the night before took more than 24 hours to jot down.’

Anthony Howell on State of Emergency.
Ticklishness‘ – A poem by Anthony Howell. 1972.


‘For those of us growing to a kind of adulthood in the early 1970s, Sandbrook’s stories trigger memories. I was a few years older than most of the people I got to know and worked with then. Married, with two small children, there was no way I was going to lie around with flowers in my hair, squat in broken down houses, or go on tour with energetic, committed theatre companies.’

Michelene Wandor on State of Emergency.
Signals‘ – A poem by Michelene Wandor. 1972.

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