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Looking for practical help on 1970s essential items for a time slip story

edited November 2015 in - Writing Problems
Hello, I don't know if anyone can help...this would be most beneficial for someone 60 + really to answer but anyone with more knowledge than me would be welcome!!!!

So my story is a woman finds a time slip purposely to the mid 1970s in order to stay there permanently. I I say any more I'll be giving the plot away. So basically its just practical things Id need to know like what she should take with her in order to convince everyone especially the authorities) that she is just a normal citizen of '74-75. This is set in the UK. I want her to get through this as easily and uncannilly as possible in order to slip under the radar completely and not have too many eyebrows raised. I thought first she should forge a birth certificate using her paternal grandparents names as her parents names as her biological father would be younger than her in this era...then of course I can see one or two problems there as well maybe like if anyone contact them they'll be like no....but making up parents would also not be good idea because then the authorities would just come back and say 'oh these people' are not on record as ever existing. I'd also need to know how she could get hold of 1970s currency of those years. I've asked around and apparently you can't by a large amount to live in only the odd £1 note lol. ASLO then maybe National Insurance cards? She wont be looking to get into anything that would immediately warrant them per se but they need to be there just in case. I know there are birth certificate forgers out there in real life but its he other suf I'm worried about/stuck on. Can anyone help at all? Ifs there anything else she'd need? I was born in 1976 s don't remember much of the 70s

I'm new btw, ex freelance journalist, dyslexic but determined to soldier on!



  • Welcome!

    This site might help for more general things:


    Could she have jewellery or something valuable to sell? That would give her the correct money.

  • I admit to being born 1959. Over 60 indeed??

    Passports have changed design. Old money is presumably available in flea markets (do they exist?) and in old people's homes; or Old People's Homes?

    I remember going to school with my green Adidas holdall and at weekends I was pleased with my black John Player jacket with its furry yellow lining.
  • edited November 2015
    I was born in the 1950's and I'm still the younger side of 60, thanks. :-\"

    You would see more red telephone boxes around, as not everyone had a phone in their homes. Shops shut on a Sunday, church bells still rang.

    National Insurance cards were sent to you automatically, you didn't apply for them.
  • Maybe it's a cliche, but she could bet on a horse race or something and win lots of money to live on - it'd be easy to look up the results before she went back.
  • Shops didn't just shut on a Sunday - different towns had 'half day' closing, so that people who worked in shops could have a day of rest and could get their own shopping, as more shops observed Sunday closing.

    TV shut down at 12 midnight, and there were parts of the day with no programming at all, just a test card.

    Why do you say Church bells still rang, Carol? They still ring now? Or do you mean there were more Churches?

    Our phone number was four digits long, 3561.

    There were more shops like tobacconists, that might sell sweets and magazines also, but many just sold tobacco, cigarettes and pipes.

    There were far fewer cars on the road. Way more buses.

  • The authorities were much less likely to check up on such things as parents than they are today - they took people's word for things much more readily.

    Your heroine should research the norms before she goes, just as you will have to before you write your story, so you will know what sites she uses.

    She'll have to research the music, film stars, radio programmes, women's magazines etc so she knows what people are talking about in general conversation.

    Her main difficulty will be the attitudes of 40 years ago. Racism, male chauvinism, politics etc. She'll have to keep her opinions to herself on so many subjects. It's just as well she's not me!
  • Some pubs were full of underage drinkers - i was able to get into pubs from about 15, and spent most Friday and Saturday nights in one. Everyone smoked. We rank what was in fashion - rum and black, pernod, or, in the country pubs, rough cider topped with lemonade or blackcurrant (even the men drank this).

    Pubs and also cafes used to have a juke box and you could pay to have a stack of records play so you got what you wanted while you were in the place... things played in the 70s would have been 10cc I'm Not in Love, Cockney Rebel you've Done it All, Street Life Roxy Music, Space Oddity by Bowie, Sonny and Cher, that sort of thing.

    You'd need about £5 to go out for the night drinking.

    You'd definitely get your fruit more likely from a fruit and veg shop than a supermarket, i can recall getting brown paper bags of tiny green grapes that were slightly sweet/sharp, delicious. There were supermarkets, but much smaller, about the size of one of those little supermarkets springing up now. We had Pricerite and Tesco later in our town - there were Marks and Spencers, and Woolworths. And lots of fashion clothes shops called things like 'Mod'.

    In our town there were three record shops, one with a booth for listening to records in, and you would rush out to buy the latests singles on Saturday after hearing them on Top of the Pops on Thursday. The 7 inch singles were put in paper bags just big enough with the name of the shop owner on.

    There was also a shop with things sold in like those lava lamps - there was a big rectangular oil thing in the window that rocked back and forwards and the 'lava' looked like the sea waving up and down.

    The local park had a little paddling pool where mothers took their children, and there were tennis courts you could book.

    There were lots of public toilets.

    If you went to the hairdresser in the 70s you'd probably come out with a tight curly perm that dried your hair brittle. And smelled of chemicals.

    You'd only phone your boyfreind very occasionally and you were stuck right next to your parents while talking, so nothing much was said! It was for arrangements to meet, primarily...

    For recreation - well, we walked into the countryside with boyfriends to find somewhere private... went swimming, more swimming pools then, went to see bands (I went to Focus, Genesis, Bowie, Bob Dylan etc). We'd got to Weymouth by train and walk along the sands and have fish and chips, and get a boat out on the lake or in the sea. We'd sit around, talking. And playing records.

  • There was a lot of casual racism (like Gollys on marmalade jars) but we were actively, as teenagers, antiracism.
  • Liz, yes there were more churches, but in many places now bells ringing is very restricted, back in the 70's it wasn't considered a nuisance.

    The arrival of a mini-supermarket was a big thing. Self-service was not the norm.
    TV's were still hired so you still have tv shops on the high street.
    Traditional style butchers, at least one shop selling record players and such.
    And of course Woolworths.
  • People only had one TV - and had to get up to change channels.
    And only one phone on a curly wire.
    And one car.
    Lots more people used buses.
    Clear, domed umbrellas were popular as were matching woolly hats and scarves.
    I don't think people bothered as much about getting haircuts or having lots of fancy clothes.
    They drank Babycham and Pomagne(!). They ate vol-au-vents and prawn cocktail.
    Avocado bathroom suites were popular.
    Kitchen colours were garish. Chinaware was patterned.
    People had lots of horrible ornaments. China carthorses were popular as were paintings of exotic-looking women.
    There were Jumble Sales rather than Car Boot Sales.
    The 'Pop' man used to deliver fizzy drinks to those that could afford them.
    There was just white bread or brown bread - nothing exotic.
    People licked the spoon after cake-mixing.
    People drank instant coffee.
    Woolworth's was popular. It had a photo booth where friends crammed in together to have photos taken.
    Music was on cassette tapes and if the tape unravelled, you could wind it back in with the end of a pencil.
    HiFis were stack systems, or you could have a 'Music Centre'. Teenagers would tape the Top 40 on a Sunday.
    There were lots of sitcoms... and wasn't Benny Hill (awful) around then?

    What a great memory for someone who's 60+!
  • Could she find names on a gravestone which could be those of her 'parents'? She could say that they were her biological parents but that she had been given up for adoption, or had grown up in a children's home. You can order a birth certificate for anyone, by the way, if you give a reason, e.g. researching family history, so she could easily obtain a birth certificate of someone else if you can find a name (gravestone again?). Don't forget, too, if she's around now, she's got technology at her fingertips and could probably produce a good copy of any sort of paperwork. In the 70s they would have been less able to detect forgery.

    You can get all sorts of stuff on Ebay from collectors. You could browse '70's' and see what sorts of things she could get hold of.

    The best way to obtain money is to sell things, I would say. Or she could provide a service - cleaning, ironing (an initiative for the 70s). She only needs a bit to start off with; again, I'm sure collectors would sell - at a price.
  • No... we had someone who did our ironing. It wasn't an initiative. And a separate cleaner.

    It depends what class she wants to be seen as.
  • edited November 2015
    Britain was poor, there were bomb-damage sites from WW2 still in evidence (certainly where I grew up in East London) bits of London looked like a run-down Eastern Bloc country - we were experiencing the Cold War. The cult of glitter in fashion and pop was an attempt to mask this grey world. There was a lot of nihilistic thought which gave birth to punk in '76 and was reflected in TV programmes such as Survivors and to some extent the Good Life - society would collapse and we'd need an alternative way. Planet of the Apes and Kung Fu were popular TV series too - alienation scenarios. There was also a lot of football violence, Man Utd were the feared supporters but most first division clubs had their unofficial armies (never sanctioned by the clubs in any way) just bands of blokes wanting to punch the hell out of each other and using club allegiance as an excuse. When the football season ended they drifted in to the music clubs. There was a lot of racism, the NF were big news, skinheads were back (typically right wing ones) - Rock against Racism was one of the efforts to change people's minds about immigrants, some of whom had been here since the 50s. The Two Tone movement was a further counter reaction. Not all doom and gloom though, it was also a time of great ideas: experimental theatre, dance and there was a lot of cultural enterprise: small businesses such as independent record labels, magazines and badge stores opened up, the emphasis was on Do-it-Yourself because the big companies were impenetrable dinosaurs with outdated views. And, not connected to any of my ramblings previous, if you couldn't sleep, all sorts of esoteric delights were on offer on BBC2 which showed Open University programmes (presenters wearing jackets with elbow patches) during the wee small hours.
  • You've reminded me of so much, Mike Olley.
    Mid 70's you had The Osmonds, Jackson 5, David Cassidy, T-Rex may even have still been around.
    Abba and the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton.
  • edited November 2015
    Hi guys

    Reading this: funnily enough 90% of it I remember/knew./researched already. Mainly all I need to know is really what she'd need to bring with her. Birth certificate yeah ok she could easily forge - would she need forged insurance cards or could she get some then if I used the gravestone idea as parents? Anything else she'd need to bring with her as ID? So as not to look out of place. Due to my part of my plot she'll have nothing of value to bring with her to sell and also wouldn't bet on races ect. Also I don't think the part time ironing job or other work would work as it would take up to much time and distract from the plot: she's on a deadline to do something and would have to do it fast.

    I also would her to NOT appear working class. Like me she will be (or as I was) a freelance journalist in 2015. I was an entertainment/showbiz journalist before I gave it up due to the Recession and falling ill and decided to concentrate on writing books so I had access to showbiz people to some accent and quite a lot of respect so I'd want her to have the equal amount -or at least try (as you say women's chauvinism back then) as to gain access to them would be an essential part of the plot too.

    Good suggestions on doing all the political an pop culture research all areas covered - I am doing that already but am going to re-read a book I bought on kindle via amazon on the 70s. It's a huge book and full of everything political and pop culture in the 1970s. I've researched the clothes down to the exact year when the hemlines dropped ect. I also saw a documentary the other night about ADSA opening in the 60s and I distantly remembering when it opened where I live and it was sooooooooooooo life changing so I could use that. I don;t actually listen to music from today or watch TV from today apart from documentaries and have gone without a mobile for 3 months now just to get a feel of what it's like....I didn't have one until I was 23 so I'm sure both myself and my heroine could manage without one. I went to use a telephone box the other day and it was 60p! I remember when it was 10p.

    I'd rather (ideally) have her bring NI cards with her plus money...where to get them though...

    Thanks again so much!!!
  • While there were female journalists employed on newspapers, freelance journalists didn't exist in the mid 70's. If they did then they were male and lived in London.
  • There would be a huge amount of sexism deployed against her as well - she would probably be on really small or low profile jobs.

    I'd recommend looking at the 70s policeman thing called Life on Mars - they did lots of arrests and you may get some info from what sort of documents the criminals were supposed to have or what they had removed for their pockets etc.

    I wonder whether you are worrying unnecessarily though - I started my first job and i didn't need anything i don't think - it was all applied for, for me.
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