It’s probably no surprise that this history of London in the swinging sixties is more than a little superficial. That it never truly grasps something that was so ephemeral and fleeting and meant so many different things to different people.
Both men are mentioned in the text, but did Terence Stamp really have the same experience of the sixties as Syd Barrett? It was a multitude of different things; a bubbling (sometimes) drug-filled soup of ambition, promise, heartbreak and despair.
And so, to pick out some individuals involved does make for a string of lovely anecdotes, but – really – nothing more substantial than that.
The narrative focuses on the lives of a few young meteors: including, the aforementioned Terence Stamp, as well as David Bailey, Mick Jagger, Brian Epstein. (There are a few women as well – Jean Shrimpton and Mary Quant – but they never emerge as much to the fore as the men.) We follow their lives, their adventures throughout The Sixties but not much more. Yes, London happened for awhile, but no one can really explain why it happened (beyond The Beatles being the most exciting thing in the world and having moved down south). Then suddenly it didn’t happen anymore. The world moved on and the book ends.
READY, STEADY, GO – it takes its name from a pop show of the era – is an entertaining read, even as it flaunts its superficiality. Those wanting more depth should hunt elsewhere (Dominic Sandbook’s two books about the 1960s, for instance. They’re more political in nature, but do try to contextualise London in Britain’s experience of the decade). However, if you just want some facile fun, then it’s without a doubt entertaining.
Just a reminder, that my new novel, DIANA CHRISTMAS is available at the ultra reasonable price of £1.99/$1.99 on Amazon now.