L.P Hartley begins his 1953 novel, ‘The Go-Between’, with the famous line: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
This is something that Jade Goody’s public relations advisors clearly didn’t consider as she has revisited her past in Big Brother, probably with disastrous results on her resulting career.
It is always tempting to look back – and wonder, what if? In fiction, time travel occurs often, “time machines” as in Huxley’s 1895 novel include Dr Who‘s TARDIS, the unforgettable DeLorean in Back to the Future and another phone box in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, to name a few. The marvelous Life on Mars series has reminded us of changes in the police since the 1970s.
Nostalgia ( a term dating back to 1678) is clearly big business – from reunion websites (eg Friends Reunited) and tracing your family tree , via interest in antiques and classic cars, to myriad retro products and fashion influences.
As public relations practitioners, we like to look back – one of my projects this year is planning MIPAA’s 40th anniversary celebrations for next year. Watch out for plenty of 1968 kitsch recollections – alongside predictions for the future.
But what is the fascination – and is it ever a good idea to revisit your past? If you’ve had a defining moment, does that have a hold on the rest of your life? Is that why many celebrities and older people cling to the past and their memories?
With our lives increasingly recorded for posterity – including online from MySpace and Flickr to blogs – will we ever escape our past? Will it be possible any longer to do a Reggie Perrin? Is that what Jade needs to do next?