Another one of those I didn't get around to doing—this one might be good whenever the next round-number anniversary rolls around. It’s something I was going to do with my friend Bassey as a podcast, but which we both ended up being too busy/tired to actually execute on. It was going to be called Selective Memory, and would entail us following some kind of historical period/narrative (in our case, initially the New Labour years) through the lens of news broadcasts of the time—specifically focused around certain events, e.g. elections. The idea originated with Bassey falling down a Youtube hole of watching old election night broadcasts, and noticing how the way issues and people were talked about: e.g. there being a Conservative candidate running as an “anti-gay” candidate—and while there are undoubtedly plenty of homophobes in the Tory party now, that kind of thing—and talking about it like that—certainly wouldn’t be acceptable.
The idea isn’t even a how-far-we’ve-come look back at the past. John Dolan is fond of saying that growing up in the 60s, a lot of social progress that was happening looked inevitable; but come the end of the 70s, a lot of things started to roll back—and then you had the regression of the 80s. That kind of whiggishness won’t do you any good. It’s more about using certain primary sources to get into a “past priority headspace”. What mattered at the time, what was acceptable at the time—these things are often difficult to determine, even if you were conscious when you lived through them, it's difficult to put yourself back in that cast of mine from the present—and this is a way to “feel out” what people cared about, what drove the agenda, what the big issues were. To understand, in short, how the past really differed from the present, as best we can.