The Women Came and Went …
Part two of the Sixties Trilogy.
It’s the Spring of 1968. Revolution is the air. It’s the time of the Vietnam War demo in Grosvenor Square, riots at the Sorbonne in Paris, students being clubbed and thrown into the River Seine, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and sit-ins at many British universities.
We’re at the University of East Yorkshire. Humour comes from the interaction of the various groups: the hard-line political students, the “straight” students and the small but growing band of hippies. Steve, who we met in Music To Watch Girls By is in the second year, a year older than the 1967 intake in beads and bells.
Steve is back with Cecilia, the girl he abandoned in the first in the trilogy, but takes up with Penny, a politically-minded girl in the heady rush of the sit-ins. But Tina’s still in the background. The women come and go … as do their barefoot servants too. All Along The Watchtower is on Bob Dylan’s album, John Wesley Harding, which was Britain’s best-selling album as the story takes place.
Steve is having a problem with authority throughout the novel: the university authorities, the left-wing politicians, the police, censorious friends of girlfriends, the lot. The university is still trying to enforce rules which are already outmoded on the students, while the lecturers are trying to screw whoever they can.
Steve’s old friends from the Sandbourne Summer Shows, Chas and Bud, have left The Sheriffs and formed a band far more in the mood of 1968, Epsilon.
A campus novel? Not like the classics from Malcolm Bradbury or David Lodge. This one is entirely from the students’ point of view. The political events closely mirror the reality of the time.
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