Memories are not made of this: the secret history of the Sixties

As the saying goes - if you can remember it, you weren't really there. Now a survey has proved it to be true. Those who grew up in the decade of flower power have shamelessly embellished their recollections, according to the UKTV History channel study. And as John Walsh exclusively reveals, it wasn't all rock'n'roll, rebellion and recreational drugs - even for the icons of the age
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History may have judged Germaine Greer to embody the spirit of Sixties' sexual freedom and combative feminism, but those around at the time remember her differently. "Mandy" Greer, as she was known at St Paul's (you didn't believe that stuff about growing up in Australia, did you?) was a fluff-brained madcap, who pinned photographs of her pony, Heathcliff, on her desk. Her time at the Lucy Clayton modelling school wasn't a success but the handsome, rich Torquil Swaggerbank swept her away to a life of creative ironing in Maidenhead. Then she read an essay by mistake in the hairdresser (Betty Friedan's Why Your Husband Wants You to Do His Ironing) and she began to think. It had all been going so well.


To his millions of fans, John Lennon was a working-class hero and subversive spirit, the living essence of rock 'n' roll. But a new and unexpected side can be found in Look Behind You, Clover! John Lennon: The Pantomime Years by Cavern Books. We learn the story of Lennon's fascination for panto - the greasepaint, the principal boy, the inept comedian, the fat ladies - and his incognito performances as Avabanana, the villain in Aladdin at the Birkenhead Exchange. Marvel at his account of being the "front half" of Clover the pantomime horse, while Yoko Ono struggles with claustrophobia and her Zen aesthetic as the "back half". His poignancy on finding that Leslie Crowther has pipped him to the role of Mother Goose easily eclipses anything in Let It Be. Unmissable.


To millions of girls, Twiggy was the Kate Moss of the Sixties, stick-thin, saucer-eyed, bob-haired, street-smart and rough-tongued. But modelling was a sideline for this talent- ed academic, who held the Galileo Chair in astrophysics at Cambridge and was a consultant to Nasa. Astonishingly young-looking due to a scientific technique called "body emorphology", she was in fact aged 45 and a hefty size 12 when discovered in 1966, "but everyone saw this thin chick, and I just went along with it. I didn't have much time for all that Sixties bullshit, because I was researching a paper on the dynamics of re-entry, but I went along with it because I needed some cash. Modelling's not really rocket science, is it?"


It would perhaps have startled fans of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown to discover that after performing on Top of the Pops in 1968, wearing a flaming iron helmet and bedraggled black eye make-up and declaiming the words "I am the God of Hellfire!" Mr Brown took the commuter train to Lewes to attend Neighbourhood Watch committee meetings. He told the East Sussex Gazette over tea at Dunravin', his modest mock-Tudor home, where his hobbies include making balsa-wood sailboats: "I always felt it important to separate my stage persona from my private life. I had to play down my passion for crazy golf, in case the young thought it 'uncool!' But I was always passionate about the Neighbourhood Watch. You can't be too careful when there's weirdos and oddballs walking the streets."


David Bailey may have seemed like the man who had it all: Jean Shrimpton, a leather jacket, an expensive Pentax, a ferocious scowl, a client list from the Krays to the Beatles. But how many people knew he was addicted to word games and puzzles? When his models were partying in houseboats, Bailey would stay home in his kitchen with a mug of Bovril and a collection of Puzzler magazines, working his way with furrowed brow through Word Search, Spot the Difference and Do-It-Yourself Hangman. His girlfriend Honoria Freelove left him when he told her his most exciting moment had been when he discovered that "carthorse" is an anagram of "orchestra". Another girlfriend, Zenobia Fellatio, dumped him when he was devoted to rampongo, an early version of sudoku, and refused to take her to dinner until he'd got all the nines lined up in one square.


Marianne Faithfull was known as Sister Mary Concepta for most of the Sixties. After a strict Catholic upbringing, she joined the Little French Sisters of Unusual Generosity, and spent evenings serving lobster bisque to down-and-outs in Lincoln's Inn Fields, before offering them glimpses of her underwear while singing "As Tears Go By". She visited girls' schools giving inspirational talks on virginity. "If our Lord had wanted us to have promiscuous sex with lots of horrible hairy men," she said, "He would have programmed us to enjoy that dreadful rock'n'roll." Eventually she was thrown out of the order for being too devout and was about to marry an Orkneys crofter when she met Michael Jagger and changed her mind.


After his untimely death in 1970, Jimi Hendrix enjoyed a reputation as a wild-haired, sexually omnivorous, guitar-incinerating genius. It's less well known that this excess occupied only the last three weeks of his life. Before he was briefly catapulted to fame, he worked for years at a variety of less glamorous jobs. He was a waiter at the Kardomah tea-rooms in Penge until fired for incorrect use of a tea-strainer. His spell as a sales assistant at Freeman Hardy and Willis in Oxford Street brought him into contact with a metropolitan clientele, but he left after failing to deliver the words, "Would you like to try those in a size eight?" with sufficient conviction. A stint at a sub-post office in Croydon ended after a brawl with a pensioner who called him "that darky". He then became a bus conductor. It was a spell on the Route 66 that inspired him to try music. The rest - for three weeks anyway - was history.


David Hockney's paintings and drawings did not make him a fortune in the Sixties. Many were simply bestowed to their subjects as gifts. He had to seek work as a house-painter in his native Bradford, advertising in Yellow Pages: "No job too big or small. Houses with swimming pool preferred. Painter must be allowed to smoke." He did wood staining, and his patio murals were much sought after. As his confidence grew, he opened a portrait studio in Oldham, offering "a likeness in oils" of aldermen and winsome children. A sideline as "Hockney the Cockney" - in which he taught northern people to speak with a then-fashionable London accent - proved a disaster, then he painted Ossie Clark and his missus and everything took off.


When Keith Moon died, a regrettable amount of media coverage was devoted to The Who drummer's appetite for misbehaviour involving non-prescription drugs, Nazi uniforms, underpants and abused girlfriends. It's a shame more attention was not paid, at the time, to his prowess at lawn bowls. "Sometimes he'd disappear for days on end," admitted Pete Townshend to The Happy Jack magazine recently. "Then we'd find him on the bowling green on Clapham Common, playing end to end obsessively. He'd take on whole teams from the Elderly Persons Twilight Home in Tooting and beat them all, then stay up all night discussing draw shots with Mrs Partington and her friend." Moon dreamt of being chosen for the national First Eight team to play in the Retirement Games Olympics, but he was turned down by the FIBA committee as "too lively".


"Turn on, tune in, drop out," was the liberationist mantra of Dr Timothy Leary, the druggy Svengali who lured middle-class children into dropping LSD. How odd, then, to learn that, after 1967, he gave up "all that silly nonsense" to become a tax accountant. "I was hip to different planes of reality, man," he told the Wall Street Journal in 1982, "but I found that the zone of perception in which I was most comfortable was discussing capital growth of fund assets with, like, extremely rich cats in exclusive yacht clubs." He rejected claims that he "sold out". "It was never the bread I was after, man," he countered. "All I wanted was the clear white simplicity of enlightenment - or at least the clear white simplicity of a $5m duplex in Sausalito ... "


Mary Quant may have been the most advanced clothing designer of the Sixties but beneath her fitted white jackets there beat a rather conservative heart. A talented needlewoman, her favourite occupation was to closet herself in the back room of her shop, and sew platitudinous "samplers" to hang on living room walls. Most of them carried proverbs like "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine", some bore apophthegms such as "You're Never Fully Dressed 'Til You Wear a Smile". They weren't a great success and she returned to making a fortune out of minis.


To impressionable passers-by, Terence Stamp may have come across as the suave, young blade-around-town in the Sixties, with his chambers in Albany and his roll-call of film-star girlfriends. It was only recently that his secret abiding passion was revealed. "I was obsessed with church architecture," he told the Sixties chronicler Hunter Davies. "Couldn't get enough of it. All that hanging out at the UFO and the Establishment Club with young women in abbreviated clothing bored the arse off me. I looked forward to weekends when I could jump in the E-type, drive to Kent or the Cotswolds, and mooch around a really musty old Norman church. Have you been to St Winifred's in Little Snoring-on-the-Mire? The reredos is 11th century, but the fan tracery vaulting is incontrovertibly Gothic. Do you know the Chapel of St James the Doomed in West Byfleet? They have these misericords under the choir stalls which are just totally groovy ..."