Saturday 10 December 2016

Bohemianism ended because no one is scandalised any more. Nobody is allowed to be 'odd': they have a 'syndrome'

Published 06/10/2013 | 05:00

Poet Pam Ayres says no one is scandalised by anything any more.
Poet Pam Ayres says no one is scandalised by anything any more.

It was always one of my ambitions to acquire a VW camper van, and now they've gone and announced that they're not being made any more. The camper van is condemned as an outdated symbol of 1960s hippydom and well past its time. Pity. I was planning, one day, to drive one across America. Maybe.

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The end of the hippy's vehicle is about something else, too. It's part of the disappearance of Bohemianism. Sociologists ponder why Bohemianism – the arty outsider living in a garret and doing things that upset the bourgeoisie – is seldom seen now. But the popular poet Pam Ayres has given as good an answer as any.

It's because, she says, no one is scandalised by anything any more. Pam, who grew up in rural Oxfordshire, can remember a time when scandal and gossip could be transmitted in such whispers as "that woman is living with a man who is not her husband" and "I have it on good authority that that couple is living in sin".

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