Western-style dances in Beijing making a comeback and horse manure hurled at British MPs: headlines from four decades ago
A journey back through time to look at significant news and events reported by the South China Morning Post from this week in history
Western-style dances making a comeback in Beijing after being banned during the Cultural Revolution, and bags of horse manure being hurled at British MPs over the presence of UK troops in Northern Ireland made the headlines four decades ago this week.
July 2, 1978
● RTHK planned to start an all-night broadcasting service. But this would depend largely on the response to its new classical music programme, which would air for two hours every day.
● Embarrassed British officials refused to say whether they had mislaid or destroyed the text of a secret agreement between the UK, France, and Israel to invade Egypt in 1956. The charge was made in a report by The Guardian, which alleged the signed agreement spelt out the moves made by the trio in the wake of Cairo’s decision to nationalise the Suez Canal.
July 3, 1978
● About 50 Indians in Colombia, armed with bows and arrows, were occupying three of the country’s gold mines, demanding the government turn them over to their tribe. The Chami protesters claimed the mines had belonged to their ancestors for centuries.
July 4, 1978
● Henry Ford II, the head of the Ford motor empire, turned down an invitation to fire the Noonday Gun opposite the Excelsior Hotel during a recent visit to Hong Kong. He also refused to attend a junk picnic organised for him, instead choosing to go shopping. The 61-year-old millionaire, known to be fond of calculators, bought 50 of the devices during his shopping expedition.
● Londoner John Bennett was ordered to seek psychiatric treatment at a hospital for biting off the ear of a labour exchange official. Bennett attacked the man after being refused public funds to go to Norway to look for a job.
● A 31-year-old man who allegedly tried to smuggle his brother-in-law into the US from Jamaica was arrested and charged with the man’s death. The body was found in a suitcase at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
July 5, 1978
● Police officers in Beijing celebrated America’s Independence Day by eating hot dogs smothered with tomato sauce and washed down with Coca-Cola. The officers, on duty near the American Liaison Office, were given the refreshments by the office’s chief, Leonard Woodcock, who was hosting a celebration reception.
● Controversy over the police’s decision to use tear gas to evict villagers during a clearance operation in Sheung Shui three months prior persisted. The incident provoked an outcry from the rural organisation Heung Yee Kuk and community leaders, who criticised the incident as an abuse of power by police.
July 6, 1978
● Western-style Saturday night dances had reappeared in Beijing for the first time since the early 1960s. In the preceding three weekends, such dances took place in one of the capital’s popular recreation centres. However, it was not certain whether the dancing was cheek-to-cheek or just hand-in-hand. Dancing was viewed as a “decadent bourgeois” practice and widely condemned during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.
● The great Australian oyster hunt was on to trace the source of food poisoning, which had stricken at least 340 people in Sydney. Health authorities were convinced some of the city’s famed rock oysters were responsible. Those who had fallen ill were said to have eaten the delicacy at restaurants and private parties up to 500 miles apart during the previous week.
July 7, 1978
● British members of parliament dived for cover in the House of Commons when demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of UK troops from Northern Ireland hurled bags of excrement at them, hitting several and provoking an uproar. The protesters in the unprecedented assault were from the leftist “Troops Out Movement”. It was later confirmed that the bags contained horse manure.
July 8, 1978
● European Common Market leaders agreed to ask their finance ministers to work out a plan for a zone of monetary stability in western Europe by the end of October that year. It was also agreed that concurrent measures would be needed to strengthen the economies of the less prosperous members of the nine-nation European Community if the proposed zone were to succeed.
Remember A Day looks at significant news and events reported by the Post during this week in history