Grunt – 02 October 2014


My cousin sent me a photograph taken when I visited them in Harare (although in those days, it was called Salisbury). I was nineteen years old, and a student at what was then called the University of Natal (Durban campus). Now, that institution has a different name too. Changing names doesn’t seem to make a significant different in the long term, perhaps because behaviours remain the same, no matter what you call them.
And it was that photograph that took me back to those times and the music we used to listen to as students in the very repressive days of apartheid. So much of the counter-culture was banned, so I was very glad to have the chance to study in New Zealand where things were a good deal more enlightened.
Anyway, thinking back to some of the stuff we listened to then, it’s difficult now to acknowledge that Elvis Presley would have been 79 years old. His British clone, Cliff Richard (whose real name is Harry Betts), is 73 as is Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer. Mike Jagger is a spritely 71, as Jim Morrison would have been if he had not done all sort of naughty things with drugs. John Lennon would have been 74 this year, while Yoko One is 81. (I’m glad to see that Lennon’s killer, Mark Chapman, has been denied parole yet again, and is still seen as a danger to society. He’s 59 this year.)
Do you remember Sergio Leone’s so-called spaghetti Westerns, with Clint Eastwood? He was in his mid-30s when he made that trilogy; now, he’s 84 and getting divorced again. That’s what you call an optimist, I guess!
And what about Zorba the Greek? I do recall seeing that film four times in three days – and I own the DVD. Does that say something about the film’s brilliance or about my impressionable student days? Or both?
And what creative energy many of these characters still have! I feel blessed to have been a student in those halcyon days!
The 60s counter-culture
revolution was revolutionary.

And still is.