This evening we watched Kes (1969), Ken Loach’s first full-length feature film and ranked seventh in the British Film Institute’s Top Ten (British) Films and among the top ten in its list of the 50 films you should ‘see by the age of 14’. Today, the scenes of industrial valleys and coalminers give the film an elegiac tone that would have been absent when it was first released, and the broad Yorkshire dialects, newsagents, milkmen, paper boys, pubs and council houses add to the impression (as they so often do with Loach films) that one is also watching a slice of cultural history (I wonder how my children related to the caning scenes at school; I never lost my sense of outrage at getting beaten by bullies in suits). The film includes what must be one of the funniest football matches in a film (the only other I can think of is in Bedknobs and Broomsticks – you can see the match here). David Bradley, playing Billy Caspar, is utterly convincing, right down to his desolate realisation that there is no escape from the tedious oppression of economic and cultural deprivation. Caspar, the film hints, is doomed to end up down the pit, like his older brother. This imaginary Caspar would still have been down there in 1984, when the Miners’ Strike signalled the end of an industry and of a way of life. Indeed, both our children spontaneously made the link with Billy Elliott.