Tomorrow, the Southsea Skiffle Orchestra is involved in an event in the Portsmouth Festivities programme (11.30 at the City Library).
In it, we’ll be looking back at the days when skiffle was big BIG BIG in this country and where it’s come to now. In the UK it started in the early 1950s but the first major year was 1956 when in January, Lonnie Donegan’s “Rock Island Line” first entered the charts. It was however, the following year, 1957 when skiffle became ‘mainstream’ with the launch of BBC TV’s Six Five Special (February), the Light Programme’s Saturday Skiffle Club (June) and chart hits for “Freight Train”, Johnny Duncan, the Vipers etc (and more Lonnie of course).
We seem to have come a long way musically over those sixty years but from an entirely different context a thought struck me last night. 1957 (March) was also the year in which a number of European countries (not the UK) signed the Treat of Rome. And by a somewhat complicated route that brings us directly to the European Union, and Thursday’s Referendum which I think is probably the most significant political event in the lifetimes of all of us from/in the UK who were born since the end of the Second World War.
I happen to be something of a political animal. I’m not by any measure an ‘activist’, but I do belong to a political party and I’ve known for a long time which way I will vote on Thursday. I think the result will be momentous, whichever way it goes. but I suspect too that it will be so close that the aftermath might be thoroughly unpleasant.
This is not in any sense a political Blog so you’ll get nothing to me about what or why I think and believe or how I will vote on Thursday. You can guess if you like but I’m not telling. But I do have one view of the whole process – and I held it even before last Thursday’s terrible tragedy – which sums up how I feel about it and why I think that maybe since the days of skiffle this country has become in some respects a less pleasant place. The words are not mine, they come from novelist Robert Harris (born almost exactly as the first Treaty was being signed) but they put it very well:
“How foul this referendum is. The most depressing, divisive, duplicitous political event of my lifetime. May there never be another.”