The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

Aaaaah yes, back in the 80s you went to Camden market in London and it hadn’t been completely taken over by young Italian goths and market stalls that are now very slick – and way too expensive on the whole.  People were selling bootleg tapes off the top of milk crates and there were racks of amateur tailored clothes that we still thought were cool as hell.  But most important – there was Syd Strong – the barber that could give you the meanest flat top in town.  Here’s what I looked like below after he’d finished with my head.

I must say, still think the flattop or flat top – one word or two – was the coolest cut of the 1980s. By the time I had this in around 1983, the Rockabilly revival of the late 70s/early 80s was past its height. So I don’t think that was the main influence. Although the 1950s look was a prevailing fashion throughout the decade. I could blame The Smiths but I wasn’t actually a huge fan. But I do recall every art student at the time – male and female – adopted a Morrissey quiff. But I don’t that’s what we see here.

I’m going to plump for post-punk of some description. I never did mullets – hallelujah!! What this replaced was a kind of Human League fringe that got ridiculously heavy. The flat top allowed me to reveal the cheekbones. As did the starvation diet during my last year at university. We Boomers may not have run up massive student debt but the grant ran out half way during the term and the banks extended you no credit. Upside – no debt on leaving college. Downside – weekends living on a packet of Digestive biscuits. Still – made me fashionably slim!

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