Australian
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Thursday, 02 November 2017 22:32

Living in the 1960s

1960s

The sixties was a decade of safari suits, shift dresses, capri pants and droopy moustaches. Of multi-purpose French onion soup, junket, tripe and Bloody Marys. Of success on the world's sporting stage and social and political stirrings at home, as Baby Boomers and their parents began to see the world differently. 

Award-winning and much loved actor Noeline Brown cut a groovy figure in the sixties. She confesses to us early on in "Living the 1960s" that she: 

'was a bit of a snob...I preferred to listen to jazz and performance poetry, to appreciate the lyrics of Bob Dylan and to watch foreign films. I wore a lot of black and dramatic eye makeup, and frequented windowless coffee lounges where people smoked heavily and played chess'. 

When she caught sight of The Rolling Stones in Sydney's Hilton cocktail bar one night during their 1965 tour to Australia, she coolly noted their drink of choice, bartender Eddie Tirado's newly introduced Bourbon and Coke, before returning to sip her classic Martini, 'hoping to look cosmopolitan and sophisticated'. 

Noeline also found time to be a committed weekend hippy, to entertain us on the ground-breaking satirical "The Mavis Bramston Show" and to frequent Vadim's restaurant till dawn, discussing the state of the world with artists, journalists and dissenters, under the watchful gaze of ASIO operatives. 

With her trademark dry sense of humour and story-teller's gift, Noeline is our knowledgeable guide into the smoke-filled bars and cafes, the pastel lounge rooms and boardrooms of 1960s Australia. She explains the different social tribes: a hippy 'could live off the smell of an oily rag, and appeared to be wearing it as well'; a beatnik, according to DJ John Burls, was someone who 'had a little beard, drank wine from a goatskin and called everybody man'. Young people identified as Sharpies, Mods, Rockers and Surfies, depending on the fashions they wore and the music they listened to. 

She takes us along the supermarket shopping aisles, to the family dinner table: 

'I found a recipe in a magazine for Greek moussaka, which featured minced lamb and potatoes, not an eggplant in sight. The list of ingredients included garlic, the use of which was 'optional'. The white sauce topping was made from yoghurt, flour and egg yolks. Many dishes called for stock cubes and even monosodium glutamate. A recipe for 'Neapolitan pizza' dough in The Australian Women's Weekly in 1968 included copha and Deb Instant Potato Flakes. 

But the nation was changing as young Australians woke up and switched on and our cities became more diverse. New smells of garlic and rosemary - and other herbs - wafted through suburban back lanes and people took to the streets to protest conscription and to let the government know that they were not all the way with LBJ. 

Containing more than 160 images, and combining entertaining social history, fact boxes and lively anecdotes, "Living the 1960s" paints a picture of a decade that didn't just swing; it twisted, stomped and screamed. For Noeline, as for a generation of Australians, it was the most important decade of her life.


Author: Noeline Brown

Publisher: NLA Publishing

RRP: $39.95

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