Stumbled on a clipping I thought I would never find. A letter to the Guardian on Monday 30th October, 2000
If anyone should want to form a clear picture of just how much British society has been dumbed down in the lifetimes of the oldest respondents to your quiz, they should look at the north-east mining village of Ashington.
In the 1920s-50s, Ashington could boast a miners’ painting club, philosophical society, operatic society, dramatic society, WEA, miners’ welfare institute, gardening clubs, cycling clubs, athletic clubs, 22 working men’s clubs (with libraries and reading rooms), a theatre, a ballroom, five cinemas, and a concert chamber. Today, as Bill Bryson puts it in Notes From a Small Island, “the liveliest diversion” in Ashington is an amusement arcade.
Newcastle upon Tyne
A theme repeated in two books in particular that I can think of –
What Went Wrong? Working People and the Ideals of the Labour Movement by Jeremy Seabrook
The Saturated Self by Kenneth Gergen