Space fever was upon us. Everywhere you turned people were talking about space, singing about space, reading about space, writing about space. We were all space mad. The reason being that the United Federation of Planets had managed to boldy send a galaxy class cruiser where no man had gone before. On a five year mission. To seek out new worlds and new civilisations in the final frontier… Space! And it was on the television too.
Me and my Raymond used to watch it without fail every ruddy week. And so did Cyril and April May, and my nephew Michael if they would let him stay up long enough, but he was only six in 68, so that wasn’t very often.
Of course, Star Trek had been on the go for a few years by then. In fact it was in its third series. But it was in that year that something happened in it that shocked the good people of America. Captain Kirk gave Leutenant Uhura a kiss. On the lips! And the reason that they got their knickers in a twist over it? Because Kirk was a white man and Uhura a black woman.
They might have ended segregation with the Civil Rights bill of 1964, but that sort of thing didn’t happen in a popular television programme. Alright, Sammy Davis Junior might have given Nancy Sinatra a peck on the cheek, but this was a bit different. There were many people in the Deep South who thought it was more likely that flying saucers would zip across space at several times the speed of light, and people could be dissolved in a machine and re assembled in a different place than that a white man would kiss a black woman. It didn’t matter that he was hypnotised at the time and that he spent most of his time in space snogging alien lasses with snails horns on their heads or three eyes or whatever. It didn’t matter that Nurse Chapel had just kissed Mister Spock in the same episode and he wasn’t even properly human. They thought it was disgusting.
Of course, today we all know why they thought it was disgusting. It was because they were tiny minded bigots with shite for brains. But there were a lot of tiny minded bigots with shite for brains in America in those days, and some of them had a lot of clout. In fact the people who made that programme were taking a bit of a risk, because the tiny minded bigots could have caused them a great deal of trouble. That’s why they made it so that the captain probably wouldn’t have kissed her if he hadn’t been hypnotised.
They got away with it though, and I would like to think that afterwards a craze for multiracial kissing swept America, and interplanetary kissing an all. He was a bit of alright, that mister Spock. A bit serious mind, but I bet when you got him going, he was at it like a sewing machine!
Funnily enough, we didn’t get to see that episode in England till years after. In those days, the BBC was funny about showing programmes that featured hypnotism.
Auntie Doris’s top pop pick of 1968: “Lilly the Pink” by the Scaffold. A lovely song, about the saviour of the human race! The best song about quack medication since George Formby did “Auntie Maggie’s Remedy”