What's that object, going round and round in the foreground? Yes! It's a vinyl record! It's Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, with Richard and Jenny in the background, two of the three students presenting on it today - Kyle, the third, is off-camera to the right. For today we did Presentations on the cultural significance of an artefact or person or product or something from the English 1960s or 70s - an excellent set of presentations on "A Day in the Life" (and the Beatles and Sergeant Pepper as a whole), the Rocky Horror Show and glam rock more generally, Princess Diana (complete with a once-rare Princess Di Beanie), the Notting Hill Carnival, Druids, and, indeed, Dark Side of the Moon (with, I believe, Monty Python, Carnaby Street, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and second wave feminism still to come).
But oh - it's so weird having one's own cultural history relayed to one ... Jenny had interviewed her boyfriend's parents about DSM, and they said that it was music to get stoned to (I could have supplied that information without too much trouble) - and, even more usefully, that it was Cool music, and that yes, there was a divide between Cool music and Uncool Music, and the Beatles - for example - weren't exactly cool (this was a valuable corrective to the overuse of the word "everyone" by a lot of the presenters ... "everyone" was NOT glued to the TV for Princess Diana's wedding, for example ... some of us were at "not the Royal Wedding" parties). Most scary of all, in relation to Pink Floyd, still, was the revelation that "people in those days didn't have Facebook or Twitter, so they communicated through music."
Improbably, I have a photograph that I took when I first heard Dark Side of the Moon ... I was travelling in Europe the summer before I went up to Oxford, and we were on the Greek island of Skyros (famous for its tiny ponies, and a monument to Rupert Brooke, who died off-shore), and walking down to a distant beach, and heard the most amazing music ... being played by some German hippies in a VW bus, who were camping under a mulberry tree dropping ripe mulberries, and powering their record player from the bus's battery ... and listening to it this afternoon, once again on that scratchy vinyl, brought it all back ... I was so very grateful for the power of material culture.