Leading article: Sweet surrender


Mmmm. Did you hear? The... (pop one in, purse lips, assume pensive expression)... Boiled... (firm, confident, steady suck, eyes slightly narrowed)... Sweet... (still sucking)... Is... (still sucking)... Back!

It is. Just part of the preoccupation with retrospection already evidenced in clothes, music and the relentless quest for any anniversary available. You certainly don't need me to rehearse again the implications of all this as you trip over yet another person dressed as a jolly jack tar, c1805, except to counsel against peaking early, as there's Guy Fawkes (400th) in November and then quite a long run-in to the Great War (100th) and Waterloo (200th). Not long to go now, presumably, before nostalgia for the first Blair government kicks in.

Boiled sweets, though, could be especially significant. There have been all manner of attempts, by Larkin and others, to pinpoint the precise moment last century when Britain started to "swing": it was, in fact, when the number of those sucking them were exceeded by those crunching them, which my research places in 1961. Caution, inhibition, decorousness, deferred pleasure: all were drowned by that symbolic molar cacophony. And soon, too, naturally, the poor old boiled sweet itself sucked rather than was sucked.

But not now: and if pear drops, acid drops and barley sugars are coming back, can their old accompanying values be far behind? Watch out for a similar revival of pipes, hats, tweed, cardigans, the Eagle comic, church-going, cricket (!), sherry, salad cream, sensible shoes, seaside, mittens, hobbies, bad teeth, double entendre, people being brave, and closed-down Sundays. In short, bling, blag and binge while ye may: the first Brown government is on its way.

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