O tempora o mores!

Remember ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ (1972-76)? When we thought it was all right to laugh at people because their skin was a darker colour than ours? And call them insulting names because it was all in the name of humour?

Remember the racial stereotyping in ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ (1974-81) and ‘Mind Your Language’ (1977-86) (cunning, lazy Indians, dishonest Burmese, dour Germans, sex-mad French, and whinging Chinese)?

Remember ‘Are You being Served?’ (1972-85) when we thought it perfectly acceptable to laugh at gay men because they were all mincing queens who talked in silly voices? (Lesbians just didn’t exist at all back then in comedy-land.)

Remember how women who failed to live up to men’s idea of sexually attractive were treated in ‘On the Buses’ (1969-73) and how Hattie Jacques’s size was the subject of much humour in any number of ‘Carry On’ films (1958–63)?

Remember when anyone who failed to meet certain arbitrary standards of beauty, or to have skin of a pale pinkish sort of hue, or to engage exclusively in heteronormative sexual activity didn’t have feelings and was justifiably fair game as the butt of whatever joke was going? They should obviously have been born better looking, white, and straight if they hadn’t wanted to be pilloried, stupid idiots.

Aren’t things better now? Or weren’t they till last Thursday? Because given the increase in racist attacks to which the referendum result appears to have given licence, I can’t see that racial prejudice will be the only kind making a come-back. As I’ve said elsewhere, not all Leave-voters are racist/prejudiced, but all racists and prejudiced people definitely seem to be Leave-voters — and the England of the 70s and 80s is the land to which a lot of them are yearning to return.


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