It has become a cliche to look back through rose-tinted glasses at the world of Bagpuss, space hoppers and Curly Wurlies - all of which, I should admit, dominate my memories of the decade, because I was born in 1974. But in a funny way, those things actually work very well as symbols of the decade, because what they represent is the reality of everyday affluence.

The fact that so many children had space hoppers, ludicrous as it may seem, is testament to the fact that even working-class families now had a solid disposable income and could afford toys for their younger members.

Even Star Wars, which first went on general release in Britain in early 1978, would never have become such a phenomenon had not so many children had the pocket money for all those Palitoy figures.

The truth is that behind all those terrible economic and political headlines, most ordinary families in 1970s Britain were better off than ever. While people shook their heads sorrowfully over the breakfast table, digesting the news of some new IRA bombing or absurdly petty British Leyland strike, their surroundings often told a rather more optimistic story.

The lurid furnishings of their new suburban homes, the swanky hostess trolley in the kitchen, the bottles of Blue Nun and Black Tower cooling in the fridge, the brand new colour television in the lounge, the turmeric-coloured Rover SD1 in the drive, even their teenage children’s painfully tight flared trousers - all of those things, which are so easy to satirise today, reflected the realities of a brave new world, forged in the crucible of mass abundance.

BBC News - Why does the 1970s get painted as such a bad decade?
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