Inventing things in the 1960s

The 1960s brought some wonderful inventions upon us, it was a golden age of inventions and for those of us who were children through the decade, everything seemed possible, at the start of that decade space travel was for dogs and monkeys although they sadly wasted the opportunity to improve their lot and get one over on us humans by not inventing a way to get down safely after firing yourself into space, its hardly ever spoken of that both the USA and the USSR sacrificed monkeys and dogs at an alarming rate and a little known fact that those monkeys and dogs are probably still up there, circling earth, pressing buttons still, and wondering when they are coming down.

By the end of the 1960s not only had humans blasted themselves into space but we’d found a way to get down again, albeit in a random “lets hope we land in the sea and then worry about whether it floats or not” way, and then we went to the moon too, and came back, not only did we do all of that in one decade but we got really bored with it too and no longer looked forward to the age when families would holiday on the moon as if it was Skegness, choosing instead to go to Skegness as it was far more isolated, and shit.

One well documented spin-off from the decade of space inventions was teflon of course, before the 1960s came along every housewife in the land would throw away on average one frying pan per week after their husband had tried to scramble his own eggs in it and completely ruined it in the process, by the end of the 60s NASA scientists had invented teflon, the non-stick surface for frying pans and suddenly men could still ruin their own scrambled eggs but now their wife could clean the pan afterwards, wonderful news, and just think, if spacemen didn’t have a need to take re-useable non-stick frying pans to the moon with them then we would never have heard or seen of teflon – so that was well worth the NASA budget on its own then.

Pens that could write upside down, thats another 1960s space development NASA breakthrough that has proved invaluable to all of us who have ever had the need to write while upside down, I can’t think of an example right now but I’m sure there are some people somewhere in the world who have a need to write while upside down and they are probably bloody grateful for the NASA space budget for providing an implement with which to do so.

Here in Britain we excelled ourselves by inventing the passenger jet aircraft long before anyone in America had even thought of the idea, ok, so ours, The Comet, fell out of the sky on too many occasions to feel comfortable enough to use it but that’s irrelevant, if only we’d thought of using round windows instead of square ones then no-one would have ever heard of Boeing and you’d all be flying De Havilland on holiday, “Take the De Havilland Comet” you’d say, “only one has fallen from the sky this week, perfectly safe”

Not content with sitting on our laurels we moved on to invent an aircraft that could fly very fast indeed and while the USA sat on its hands and mumbled from the sidelines “We’ll just keep working on a normal speed one that doesn’t fall from the sky first if you don’t mind”, we took on the Russians in the race to build the first supersonic passenger aircraft and this time the tables were turned, for this time it was the Russians who built an aircraft that fell from the sky just one time too many and the UK (and a bit of France) took the plaudits for Concorde (French spelling, not that they had much to do with it at all, apart from naming it obviously).

So we all pointed to the sky as Concorde flew by, proudly puffed out our chests and then clenched our ears screaming “Jesus Christ thats loud” but it was our very loud, very polluting, supersonic aircraft and the rest of the world crossed its arms, stomped its feet, put on a pet lip and declared, “You’re not landing here, its not fair”.

And ultimately, just like the Comet, Concorde was only of any use to very rich people who only ever wanted to go to New York or Barbados, it was marvelously completely bloody useless to 99% of the nation who, even if we were rich enough to fly on it, probably wanted to go somewhere that it didn’t, just like the Americans with the Apollo space missions we as a nation are excellent at building excellent things that no-one wants or can think of a use for.

The hovercraft was a different matter though, also invented by us British in the 1960s, I told you didn’t I, the 1960s were just an excellent time to be British, the hovercraft was a thing that could fly one inch above ground or water on top of a big balloon thing – no-one under the age of 30 knows what a hovercraft is these days, just suffice that it was a thing that flew one inch above the ground or water on top of a big balloon thing, and they made one big enough to put dozens of passengers and even a handfull of cars on, called it a ferry service and used it to cross the English Channel to France with.

Of course the only reason they did that was to show off the hovercraft to France, “Look at what we’ve built” they shouted every time one deflated in Calais, “We’re bloody excellent us British, inventing things like this, look, one inch above the ground or water, no wonder we won the war and you didn’t”

Ultimately it was fairly rubbish though, it made an extraordinary amount of noise, more than Concorde and that is saying something, and it spewed exhaust fumes everywhere and because it rode over the top of waves (you actually “flew” in a hovercraft), it made everyone on board seasick, it was one of those things that you went on just to tell the neighbours, but when you came back from France you got on a proper ship instead.

But the best thing, the absolutely no questions asked, best thing ever to be invented in the 1960s for a small child was Cresta pop.

Cresta pop, unlike any pop then and since, its sales trademark a cool Polar Bear in sunglasses with a Barry White voice telling you “Its frothy man”, Cresta pop with its very vivid colouring, colouring so vivid that some illegal dye and stains must have been used in its preparation for if legal then someone else would have done it before, Cresta pop that exploded from the bottle every time as if the last job at the Cresta factory was for a circus strongman to take every bottle off the production line and shake it very hard.


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