A fascinating thread for one born in Feb 1934. For me the Great Recession started in 1929 and the fallout was cataclysmic.The first catalyst for change in social attitudes had been WWI but such progress as had been made were reversed by the catastrophe. In UK the divides were as much about class, education, opportunity, and power as they were about money. WWII provided the second catalyst and this was reflected in the subsequent Labour landslide victory. Certainly life was tougher, but then as kids during the war we had known no other, and many got a vicarious thrill from it. The ensuing period looks like a life of privation: continued rationing, no cars, no plastics, coal was king, and health precarious. I owe my life to the miracle drug penicillin when I got peritonitis (120 jabs), but my best friend died of polio. Looming above all was the Soviet threat and the atom bomb. Two-year National Service was compulsory at 18, although not entitled to vote until 21. But there was opportunity for adventure, whether in the military or abroad. For 12 years I worked in Kurdistan and experienced the 1958 Iraq revolution, the end of the Lebanese civil war, Abu Dhabi before oil, Laos in 1964 and Oman 1965.
Those experiences revolutionized my own thinking about class, imperialism , sexism etc. but it was the belated discovery of Alpinism in 1962, that finally changed my outlook. What mattered was the people you climbed with. Elf and safety were not the priority and confidence in your partner, however he spoke and whatever his education, was what mattered. Everyone got out of doors and learnt to climb in difficult conditions, and most went to the Alps. Furthermore, they were ambitious for the big routes so life was adventurous, just as it was on British rock with the equipment of the day.Like everything else life changes and with it the opportunities for adventure, along with the social mentalities and conventions of the period. The Dark Years were unique. The essential support for that Churchillian defiance were Left and Right coming together to unite against compromise with tyrannical rule, whatever the cost. Only circumstances will show whether such a critical situation can arise again and the reactions to them. But whatever they may be, it will not be us who will be standing alone this time.