thinking makes it so

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Fashion cycle

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According to popular legend the sudden decline in hat wearing by men started in 1960 as a result of John Kennedy.

John F Kennedy in 1959

John F Kennedy in 1959

Some say he went to his inauguration in 1960 without a hat. Others say he took it with him, but he didn’t wear it during the actual ceremony. Apparently neither he nor his brother Bobby liked wearing hats.

I certainly cannot recall ever seeing a picture of John Kennedy wearing a hat. And I was very aware of the watershed between the hatted Fifties and the hatless Sixties. But I had never put two and two together. In fact it was only when watching An Era of Style, one of the ‘featurettes’ included with the matchless Mad Men Series 2 DVD set, that I learned this most profound sociological fact.

I found myself remembering this today.

I found myself wondering what it was that had happened – maybe some time in the Seventies or the Eighties – to make cycling on the pavement in Britain shift from virtually if not literally illegal to the most done of done things?

Urban cyclist

Urban cyclist

When I was a child in the Fifties (when men wore hats) and Sixties (when they did not), riding a bike on the pavement was strictly verboten, something the omnipresent police took a seriously dim view of – like underage smoking. Maybe it’s because I’ve been out of the country for most of last 14 years, during which time there’s been a significant cycling revolution? – I mean people these days actually use bikes to get from A to B, as they did in the old days. They’re not just a foil to Lycra fashion. But at least 50% of the distance from A to B is travelled on the pavement.

So, what was the Kennedy moment? What caused the pavement-cycling watershed? Was it a ground-breaking Act of Parliament? Or do today’s invisible police just turn a collective blind eye?

© Chris Lawrence 2009.

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Written by Chris Lawrence

5 November 2009 at 11:28 pm

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