Hampstead – The wilderness years

Hampstead: Mean streets throughout the Thatcher years

The tough streets have taken their toll
Adrian Moss
On 15 April 2013 10:39

Glenda Jackson claimed that Thatcherism created “the most heinous social and economic damage…on my constituency and my constituents.” And she’s got a point you know…

1978 – The last wonderful year before the terror. Britain is a veritable Eden. After the long years of industrial harmony and fabulous living standards created by the highly competent Labour government the country is a happy and contented paradise.

1979 – To abject horror in NW3, an ex-grammar school girl is elected Prime Minister. And, even worse, she’s a scientist. 

1980 – Francis Pym announces cruise missiles to be located at Greenham Common in Berkshire causing biggest internal migration in the UK since the Depression. An estimated 45 percent of female population of constituency disappears overnight. Local economy devastated as wine bars, restaurants and tea rooms close.

1981 – SDP formed. Oddbins run out of champagne.

1982 – Invasion of Falklands. Sales of Corned Beef soar. The new committee suite in the town hall is named ‘The Belgrano Rooms’. Tango classes become oversubscribed. Sales of Corned Beef plummet when it is revealed that it’s not organic. ‘The Young Ones’ debuts on the BBC. Hampstead Workers Collective Theatre Guild award it Documentary of the Year.

1983 – Local boy Michael Foot loses election by a landslide. Subsequent widespread dumping of now-not-so-trendy Donkey Jackets. Red Cross shop pleads for no more to be donated as no room inside for anything else.

1984 – Miners’ strike brings despair and hardship. Fighting fund initiated to bring financial relief to those who have to have Agas converted from solid fuel to oil. 297 gritty northern screenplays written in NW3 postcode alone.

1985 – Outraged by the profusion of South African fruit, Chilean wines and Jaffa Oranges in local stores Hampstead Anti-Fascism Collective decides printing list of ‘commodities to avoid on political grounds’ is too time consuming. Decides instead to produce list of foods and beverages which can be purchased in good conscience. First cases of malnutrition reported in Downshire Hill.

1986 – Mass protest against selling off of British Gas brings thousands to the streets. ‘Kill Sid’ posters become local landmark. Frognal Post Office goes on strike at increased weight of postal bags blamed on amount of British Gas share issue certificates.

1987 – Third consecutive Conservative victory leads to the establishment of the despair novel genre. SDP align themselves with Liberal party. Oddbins reports champagne sales steady. David Owen resigns from SDP. Oddbins runs out of champagne.

1988 – Well known Guardian journalist finds that value of house now four times what it was in 1978: Takes four month sabbatical to overcome embarrassment; goes to Tuscan villa to write excoriating critique of Monetarism; meets the rest of Hampstead Garden Suburb in that lovely coffee shop in the piazza by the cathedral.

1989 – First feral cappuccino spotted on Hampstead Heath. Michael Thomas wins First Division title for Arsenal with last minute goal against Liverpool. Hampstead declares workers solidarity with Merseyside and goes into mourning for the rest of the summer, or at least until July, when it goes to Tuscany.

1990 – The Sun-Dried Tomato riots. Many injured. Hampstead Organic Vegan Foundation hold a ‘BSE Told You So’ picnic on the Heath.

1991 – Margaret Thatcher is forced out of office. Subsequent week-long parties followed by deep sense of despair and unvoiced concerns about falling house prices. John Major takes office – another grammar school alumnus. Sense of despair deepens.

Adrian Moss is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator and a screenwriter

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