When the Lights Went Out, By Andy Beckett

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The Independent Culture

Beckett was born ten days before the Seventies but his energetic account of that seedy decade will jump-start hazy memories for those who lived through it. Maplin may ring a distant bell, but what the hell was it? Beckett not only reminds us about the Heath government's failed plan for an estuarial airport for London but also visits a trial site built near Shoeburyness.

Ted Heath produced "a heavy mirthless laugh" when Beckett raised the topic. Sid Rawle pops up on page 250. Who? The self-styled "King of the Hippies" got government backing for a week-long pop festival (Hawkwind, Gong...) in Oxfordshire. Local MP Airey Neave led the opposition, but during the event "a stout, 59-year-old man with a Brylcreemed gentleman's club haircut" paid a visit. "Very orderly," said Neave.