Nothing reveals your age like realising your ‘contemporary novel’ has become social history!
Fiction relies on detail for its context and some details date more rapidly than others.
My first published novel, ‘Cold Showers,’ written in 1984, told the story of a young married woman working in PR for a cosmetics company, who became a widow.
The theme itself hasn’t aged – a person suddenly out of step with the mainstream of normal life, facing her own assumptions and others’ well-meaning advice.
But 25-year old Cathy Childs was also a child of her time, in a world where buses had conductors, cars regularly broke down on motorway journeys, address books were actually books and phone calls away from home were made from kiosks on street corners.
Young couples cooked spaghetti bolognaise and chilli con carne – though only for their peers, not their parents, who wouldn’t touch ‘foreign food’ – and hankered after pine furniture and a stereo that played cassette tapes as well as records.
The company Cathy worked for had a Managing Director (with his very own Cona coffee percolator) and a Personnel department, not a CEO and Human Resources.
It also conducted animal experiments – an issue that, along with the casual racism of the era, is still an issue today, nearly 40 years later.
It’s shameful that, of all the relics of the 1980s, those (oh – and Matey bubble bath) – have survived.