“Margaret Thatcher (1983)” by Rob Bogaerts / Anefo – Nationaal Archief
My brother and I tried to explain to a throng of youngsters at band rehearsal on Monday. But they didn’t understand! How could they? Sometimes I don’t understand it myself. Sometimes I look back, and I think to myself: how could a thing like this happen? In my lifetime? In the UK?
Let me put things into context.
The year is 1982, and, according to BBC Online:
Unemployment had been steadily rising for years.
It topped the one million mark in 1972, dropped back briefly in 1975, but otherwise continued upwards unchecked.
Mass unemployment was a feature of the late 1970s and early 1980s – the people out of work became known as “Maggie’s millions”.
Unemployment blighted many traditional industrial communities as companies set about restructuring and modernising their businesses.
For many young people it was impossible to find work. There were sporadic outbreaks of violence such as the riots in Toxteth, Liverpool, in July 1981, which many felt were partly to blame on the high level of unemployment in the area.
1982 was the first time that unemployment had reached 3 million since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It had been the life’s mission of many in politics who had lived through that Depression to make sure this country never saw unemployment like that again. But, in the 1980s, with a new government with new political priorities, joblessness once again seemed like an epidemic.
And into this bitter, angry, raw-knuckled and divisive climate, like a bright shining light of What-The-Actual-Fuck-Ness, stepped George Michael and Andrew Ridgely.
This, my friends… This, is the Wham Rap.
(It has Spanish subtitles, but don’t worry. That won’t make it any weirder.)
Addendum (26 December 2016)
Just seen this old blog post while doing a little website housekeeping. It reminded me how the world was definitely much more fun with George Michael in it. What a year…