Supermac's straight talk

February 3. Addressing the South African Parliament, the British prime minister, Harold Macmillan coined a phrase which was to transform the post-war world: "The wind of change is blowing through this continent and, whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact."

For Britain his "Wind of Change" speech meant the gradual end of Empire in Africa. In our former colonies, leaders once regarded as troublemakers or even terrorists were leading their nations towards independence and a new, less formal Commonwealth.

If Britain was resigned to the process, South Africa certainly was not. Macmillan's words outraged a system founded on apartheid, or separate development of the races. South Africa's rulers believed that blacks had no place in politics and could be treated as second-rate citizens for ever.

At Sharpeville in the Transvaal on March 21, just over a month after Macmillan's historic words, a crowd of Africans demonstrated against the carrying of identity cards. Police opened fire and 70 demonstrators were killed and more than 200 wounded.

The world was outraged. The UN called for apartheid to be scrapped, to no avail. "If they do these things," commented the police commander at Sharpeville, "they must learn their lesson the hard way."

Norman DeeleyApril. Wolves missed out on a double by just one point when they were pipped at the post by Burnley who won the league for the first time.

Consolation was to come a few days later when they beat another Lancashire side Blackburn to win the FA Cup for the fourth time - although the game itself was slammed at the time for negative play by both sides.

Two goals from Norman Deeley and an own goal by Blackburn sealed the victory for a side which for the first time in years was without Billy Wright who had retired at the start of the season.

July. Held at the height of a hot Mediterranean summer and against doctors' orders, the 1960 Rome Olympics produced a crop of sporting stars from the 19-year-old Huddersfield swimmer Anita Lonsborough to the bare-footed marathon man from Ethiopia Abebe Bikila. The biggest name - and one that was soon to be changed - was that of the light heavyweight US boxer Cassius "I Am The Greatest" Clay. His later claim that he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee was soon evident in a fleet footed style which saw him win olympic gold. It was predicted that he could become a world champion and under his own name and later Muhammad Ali he duly did.

November 9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the youngest President of the USA and the first Roman Catholic incumbent when he scraped home after a pulsating election battle against former Vice President Richard Nixon. Within days there were accusations that his father, a self-made millionaire and former ambassador to Britain, had been able to "buy" the presidency for his son. Soon his kingly court was to be filled with friends, family and associates and advisers from the two East Coast universities the young JFK had attended.

November 2. One of many dates which were said to have signposted the start of the permissive society was the one on which an Old Bailey jury ruled that the novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was not obscene. It was one of the poorest works by the long dead Midlands writer D H Lawrence but the one which was to make him a household name. Penguin Books had been prosecuted for obscenity over the book which contained explicit descriptions of the sex act.


In brief

February 6: Hundreds of fish were found dead or dying in a mystery massacre at a pool in Bridgtown, Cannock.

  February 29: Sedgley residents complained of inadequate sanitation at their homes in Catholic Lane and Cotwall End Road.

March 14: The radio telescope at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire set a record in space tracking when it made contact with the American Pioneer 5 at a distance of 407,000 miles.

April 7: England cricketer the Rev David Sheppard announced he would not play against South Africa.

April 13: Stirling Moss was banned for a year for dangerous driving.

May 6: Princess Margaret married society photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones at Westminster Abbey.

June 30: Alfred Hitchcock's much imitated but never bettered film "Psycho" went on general release in Britain.

July 6: Aneurin Bevan, controversial post war politician - and husband of Cannock MP Jennie Lee - died from cancer at the age of 62.

August 13: Beer went up by 1d a pint to 1/7d.

October 3: Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell told his party conference he would "fight, fight and fight again" to stop it voting for unilateral disarmament.

October 16: Irascible British broadcaster Gilbert Harding - a favourite on the show "What's My Line" - died at the age of 53.

October 17: Fifteen vehicles were involved in a pile-up in the fog at Four Ashes in Staffordshire.

October 26: Three cats came "back to life" in a furnace at Walsall power station after a botched -up attempt to kill them humanely.

December 9: A new soap opera started when the first episode of "Coronation Street" went out live.

December 31: The last national serviceman got fell in.