The bread van passed me on the motorway at five to seven this morning. I know it was five to seven because, on Radio 6, Chris Hawkins was handing over to Shaun Keavny for the final time, Shaun Keavny leaving the breakfast show after hosting it for twelve years.
“Make L❤️af not W☮️r” was the slogan on the back of the van. The slogan seemed to belong to a world far from that listening to a digital radio station on a mobile phone. Shaun Keavny’s tenure of the breakfast show chair seemed no more than a brief moment when compared with the societal and attitudinal ages that have passed since a generation declared love was better than violence, and when the logo of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament would be encountered on a daily basis.
The Authentic Bread Company’s van undoubtedly carried bread of a quality that is thoroughly different from that of the standard supermarket sliced white loaf. Its selling point would not be the quantity of it that could be bought at the lowest possible price, but its taste and nutritional value. The buyers of the bread would probably not be those on very low incomes, but, judging from its slogan, people of middle age and middle income. Despite being middle class though, they will presumably hold memories of radicalism with affection.
”Make love not war,” was the motto of the Woodstock generation. It was the language of the hippies and of the psychedelic counter-culture. It was a rallying call for those opposed to the Vietnam war and the arms race. But it no longer possesses a radical edge, it no longer evokes images of Paris in 1968 or all the other times of radical activism, instead it has become the source of a pun for a bakery company.
Where are the radicals now? Since the hippies of the 1960s and the punks of the 1970s, there seems to have been nothing subversive, nothing to inspire a wave of disapproval. Movements seem to have been replaced by individualism. Working among teenagers on a daily basis, it is hard even to discern definite trends in dress or hairstyles, everyone follows their own inclination. Perhaps it is not such a bad thing that people can now be whatever they choose to be (although they do have a preference for clothes with particular labels), but what will be there that they have left to paint on bread vans in future generations?