In the Guardian of 19.9.15, Linda Grant was funny about leftwing love in the 1970s, when Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn apparently got it on,
She is the author of a novel of 1970s university life, Upstairs at the Party, published by Virago.
“Well, of course Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn had a brief relationship, culminating in a motorbike tour of East Germany. Contrary to some cartoonish idea of the left being principled high-minded activists too busy to shag, everyone had sex in the 1970s, because that’s all there was to do. It was a sign of revolution against the bourgeois fug of respectability, the Mary Whitehouse brigade; and it was a crucial substitute, in a period of two-bar electric fires, for central heating.
“We’re talking about an era when the concept of dates and dating was some distant, incomprehensible American high school thing involving soda fountains and little deuce coupes. A recent graduate of York University complained to me of the paucity of nightclubs in the cathedral city, and asked what it was like in my day. Nightclubs conjured up the image of couples in evening dress and Brylcreemed hair smoking at tables with lamps on them, while on stage a crooner hugged a microphone. The university left occupied its evenings with meetings then, when they were finally over, reconvened at the pub. At closing time, as you walked off down the street with a bag of chips, a boy might accompany you and indicate his sexual interest by, say, putting a comradely arm around your shoulder.
“Sex was the reward for attending all the endless meetings, or the natural consequence of all that sitting, in the days when the word gym meant the room at school with wall bars. There were problems about staying up too late (everything shut by 10.30pm anyway), but there were early-morning duties for the committed comrade: trying to sell copies of Socialist Worker outside the gates of the local factory to shift-workers.
“Only with ‘the benefit’ did the social life of the left take a notch up into something resembling a kind of festivity. The benefit was a disco. It would be in aid of one of the great causes of the day, the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, Troops Out (of Northern Ireland), the miners, the steelworkers, the Anti-Nazi League; clumping round the floor to Tom Robinson in nothing so hierarchically exclusive as couples but ragged groups of girls and boys. Refreshments would be served: cans of Party Seven beer, 50p bottles of Hirondelle (a sweet white wine), French sticks and blocks of orange Red Leicester. Occasionally exiled Chilean leftists would turn up with a Tupperware box of empanadas.”
Read the whole thing at