1980s britain

When violence was the norm: Britain in the 1980s

In middle age you’re supposed to feel nostalgia for your youth, but I finished this book marvelling at how dreadful the 1980s were. The decade hit rock bottom in May 1985 when, within 18 days, 56 football fans died in a fire at Bradford City and 39 in crushes before the Liverpool-Juventus match at the Heysel Stadium. All through, though, the 1980s lived up to one of Roger Domeneghetti’s chapter titles, named for The Barracudas’ song of 1981: ‘We’re living in violent times.’  The author, a journalist and academic, has an ambitious premise: sport is the key to understanding what really happened to Britain in the 1980s. The book doesn’t

A modern Medea: Iron Curtain, by Vesna Goldsworthy, reviewed

Vesna Goldsworthy’s finely wrought third novel explodes into life early on with a shocking scene in which Misha — the boyfriend of our protagonist, Milena Urbanska — returns from a short, tough spell of military service, initiates a game of Russian roulette (‘the only Russian thing I could face right now’) and blows his brains out. It is 1981. Misha and Milena are children of the political elite in an unnamed capital city in the Eastern Bloc. As such, they are afforded privileges their compatriots lack: palatial homes, preferential treatment, western luxuries as seemingly innocuous as cans of Bitter Lemon from Italy and imported tampons, instead of ‘the scratchy home-produced