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This is the year that was 1997

THIS IS AN article i wrote for my work’s internal magazine…

We don’t have many 10 year olds working for the Council, so practically everyone reading this will relate to 1997 and be able to recall memories (good or bad) from this eventful year.

1997 has always been a special year for me. Mainly because it was a year of new beginnings and packed full of interesting events, both for me personally and also historically for the UK.

1997 was the birth of Cool Britannia

It was the year I turned 18 and moved away from home to begin life as a student in Bristol and experience a wonderful new life of cheap beer, dirty dishes, and no discernable work to do.

Nationally, change was in the air and the UK was in a good mood – the Labour Party under Tony Blair defeated the Conservative Party to win a landslide result in the election. There was lots of talk and promise of change for the better under New Labour.

The age of ‘Cool Brittania’ was in its infancy and the music scene at the time was particularly good. Radiohead released OK Computer to huge critical acclaim and was shortly voted the greatest album of all time by Q Magazine, whilst Roni Size’s album New Forms won the Mercury Music Prize.

Oasis released their 3rd album, Be here Now, which became the fastest selling album in UK history. David Bowie turned 50, and Paul McCartney was knighted alongside a smiling Linda McCartney. New bands also formed – among them Coldplay, Muse, The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age.

It was also a special year for the Spice Girls, who were at the peak of their popularity after releasing their second album Spiceworld. Records were smashed by this album; the first British group to have a US number one with their debut single, the first to have a number one with their debut album, the first act in the UK Top 40 singles charts to have four consecutive number one hits, and the first British band since The Beatles to have two albums in the US chart at the same time.

Infact Spice and Spiceworld amassed enough sales for one out of every two people in Britain to own a Spice Girls album (though I can hold my hand up and say I do not count is this very large brigade). The Spice Girls even managed to find the time to launch a brand new national terrestrial television channel – Channel Five.

The year also saw the publication of the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Which was made into a film several years later. Hit films of 1997 included Titanic, Men in Black, and scenes of working men stripping off in the Full Monty.

The year was also a significant year for endings – Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed died being chased by the hounding Paparazzi during a high-speed crash in Paris. What was to follow was an unprecedented outpouring of national grief in the UK. The same couldn’t unfortunately be said for Jeff Buckley, the Notorious B.I.G, and Gianni Versace who departed to the great big catwalk in the sky.

Headlines in the news included the Hand over of Hong Kong, Referendums in Scotland and Wales for the creation of new national assemblies. The British au pair Louise Woodward was found guilty of the baby-shaking death of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen. Scientists at the Roslin Institute announce the birth of a cloned sheep named Dolly, the IRA declared a ceasefire (the Real IRA followed a year later) and the UK’s entry Katrina and the Waves even managed to win the Eurovision Song Contest!

Michael Schumacher commits the infamous Dry Sac corner incident at the Spanish Grand Prix, allowing Villeneuve to go on to win the F1 world drivers’ championship. Elsewhere across the Black rock Desert an even faster driver, Andy Green, sets a new land speed record of 763mph driving ThrustSSC, the first time the sound barrier is broken on land.

Interestingly the 1984 film The Terminator and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, both referenced the year 1997 as the time in which the fictional computer entity Skynet would launch a nuclear attack on mankind on August 29.

That’s one thing I am glad didn’t happened during this eventful year!

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