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11.6.05

The Birdie Song and Dance...

Yep, 1981 was the year of the Tweets, who brought us the Birdie Song with its accompanying dance - and we were all at it...

Benny really set the Crossroads Motel Christmas party aflame when he did it...

Forget John Travolta - this is Birdie Dance Fever ...

... whew... cookin'...


31.5.05

Butlin It Once And You'll Do It Again...

Sir Billy Butlin died in 1980, and Butlin's introduced us to a new catchphrase: "Butlin it Once and You'll do it Again". The TV ad song still haunts to me this day!

Captain Beaky: "Hissing Sid Is Innocent!"

These are the bravest animals in the land!

"Captain Beaky" - the book!

From the 1981 Captain Beaky annual.

More Captain Beaky 1981 annual fun.

We had a lot to thank Keith Michell for in 1980....

He sang that funky little groover Captain Beaky - the record - and illustrated that sizzling best seller - Captain Beaky - the book!

Captain Beaky - the sheet music! Remember "Hissing Sid Is Innocent, OK?!"

The bravest animals in the land are Captain Beaky and his band
That's Timid Toad, Reckless Rat, Artful Owl and Batty Bat

They march through the woodlands singing songs
That tell how they have righted wrongs

Once Hissing Sid, an evil snake, kept the woodland folk awake
In fear and trembling every night
In case he gave someone a bite

Said Artful Owl, 'We'll lie in wait
And one of us will be the bait."

Said Captain Beaky, "Have no fear!
For I alone will volunteer!"

"No, make it me!" Said Reckless Rat
"I'll stand there in my reckless hat

When Hissing Sid picks up my trail,
I'll just lasso him with my tail!"

"Oh, good idea" said Timid Toad,
"We'll hide a long way down the road.
And when you've overcome resistance,
We'll rush along to your assistance."

Said Batty Bat, "I've got a wheeze!
I'll fly and hide up in the trees!
If Hissing Sid should slither by
I'll drop a boulder from the sky!"

Said Artful Owl, "The idea sound… how will you lift it off the ground?"

Poor Batty Bat just scratched his head,
"I hadn't thought of that," he said.

Said Owl "The rest of us hold back - There's only one that he'll attack."

Said Timid Toad, "I like your plan."
"Good luck," said Owl, "For you're the man!"

So Timid Toad, his eyes a-popping,
Into the woodland night went hopping

Captain Beaky waved his hand, followed by his trusty band
That's Artful Owl and Reckless Rat, and above the trees flew Batty Bat.

"Stop!" Said Beaky, "I hear squeaking!"
"It's Batty Bat" said Owl, "He's speaking!"

"It's all in code," said Reckless Rat

Said Owl, "I'll just decipher that."

"A dash, a dot, two short, two long…
I rather think we've got it wrong.
It reads 'can clearly see the road,
Hissing Sid has captured Toad!'"

"Quick men!" said Beaky, "No delay!
You mustn't let him get away!"

And leaping off, said "Follow me!"
And ran head first into a tree.

"Dot dot dot" squeaked Batty Bat.
Said Beaky, "Quick! Decipher that!"

Said Reckless Rat, "Perhaps we're gaining?"

"No," said Owl. "He says…it's raining"

Oh, how they ran to save poor Toad,
For they must find that snake's abode

Guided by old Batty Bat
Dot dot go this way dash, go that!

Then Hissing Sid's lair they spied
Were they too late? Was he inside?

Said Reckless Rat, "I'll get a pole
And stop him going down his hole!"

Then into sight the snake came hopping,
Right past his hole, no sign of stopping
Said Reckless Rat, "That's rather funny,

"There's something jumping in his tummy."

Said Captain Beaky, "Well I'm blowed!
Hissing Sid has swallowed Toad!"

And as the snake hopped out of sight,
Off they chased into the night.

At last they found him, tired and dizzy

And pulled out Toad, who said "Where is he?
For left alone, I felt quite sick,
And hopped into a hollow stick"

Said Owl, "A clever step to take!
You jumped into that slippery snake."

"That was brave of Toad", said Rat
"That's just my sort of plan!" said Bat

Said Captain Beaky to his men,
"Well we'll not see Hissing Sid again!"

And as they marched off down the road,
They sang in praise of Timid Toad

Above them flew ol' Batty Bat,
With his wings stretched out, like that
Owl's idea, the clever fella
To have a flying um-ber-ella

The origins of Captain Beaky stretched back over twenty years. The name came about because the author, Jeremy Lloyd (creator of Are You Being Served?), was nicknamed “Captain Beaky” at school because of his rather long nose.

Over a period of twenty years, Mr Lloyd scribbled down various short poems on the backs of envelopes, film scripts and in letters to friends - featuring such characters as Dilys the Dachschund, Harold the lonely frog, and Captain Beaky and his band.

In 1977, a book of these poems was published, and an album of music was released. The music was written by Jim Parker. The album featured such stars as Peter Sellers and Twiggy, but neither book nor record sold well. The band’s rise to fame in 1980 was brought about after Radio One DJ Noel Edmunds heard Captain Beaky on Junior Choice and played it on his own show.

Captain Beaky, the single, charted at No. 40 in February 1980 and had soon crashed into the Top Ten, reaching No. 5.

I well remember the impact. I don't personally believe that Hissing Sid was innocent, but the slogan cropped up everywhere, sprayed on numerous brick walls, scrawled on school exercise books, inscribed on car stickers, badges...

My mate Pete and I had a bit of a ding dong about it.

Said Pete: "Sid was probably asleep - with his mouth open. Toad said he hopped in voluntarily, thinking Sid was a hollow stick."

"Rubbish," said I, or words to that effect. "Hissing Sid was out to capture Toad - it was a trap!"

"You know your trouble, mate? You always think you're right!" said Pete, huffily.

"Huh! That's rich comin' from YOU!" I sulked...

In retrospect, it seems the controversy might have been a symptom of an endearingly whimsical streak infecting the general population.

Or were we just stupid?

Thanks, Joan...

Joan Armatrading's 1980 album, Me, Myself, I.

In 1980, I "got into" Joan's music. I'd heard her Love And Affection track a few years previously and then, aged ten or eleven, had immediately denounced it as "soppy". But times change. At Christmas 1980, this album was a present from a very mean old family friend.

This woman was known as "Auntie" to the kids in my family, and her meaness was legendary. On her daughter's 21st birthday, "Auntie" gave her a bottle of scent she'd had for Christmas the year before.

I suspected that the album I received had been an unwanted present to "Auntie" as well (her musical tastes didn't stray much beyond Dana and Sleepy Shores), but I'd enjoyed the track Me, Myself, I when it had charted, so put the record on. And that was it. I was hooked. I bought some of Joan's other albums and she helped see me through some turbulent teenage times.

Thanks, Joan. Thanks, "Auntie"!

On The Eighth Day...

"Heeeere's Hazel!" Oower, missis!

I never actually saw Breaking Glass, although I recall Hazel O'Connor going absolutely barmy in the video for her single The Eighth Day. I think that footage actually came from the film. I dunno about breaking glass - she looked like she could smash her way through reinforced concrete.

A film I do remember from 1980, as an under age visitor to the local flicks with some schoolmates, was The Shining. "Heeeere's Johnny!" Of course me and my mates weren't scared. Nah, 'course not.

Honest.

John Lennon Killed...

John Lennon had commented in an interview shortly before his death: "Weren't the '70s a drag?"

He recorded a new album, Double Fantasy in 1980, and seemed to be making a comeback.

But it was not to be.

There's No One Quite Like Grandma...

And here's the St Winifred's School Choir with There's No One Quite Like Grandma. This record is often slated today, listed in "worst ever" record polls and so on. But it's certainly no worse than Clive Dunn's Grandad some years before. My own Gran thought it was wonderful and the copy she was given for Christmas was her favourite present that year. She was of a less cynical generation, you see!

St Winifred's School Choir reached the No 1 spot in the chart week ending 27/12/1980. My own seasonal favourite that year was Jona Lewie's Can You Stop The Cavalry - which peaked at No 3.

Mary Bradley waits at home, in the nuclear fall out zone...

1981 - Synths, Cubes, Cats, Space Shuttle, Only Fools, Duran Duran, Birdie Dance, "YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!", Walkmans, Space Invaders, the PC & CBs

It was a terrific year for the still evolving synth sound, with Visage, Depeche Mode, The Human League, Ultravox and Kim Carnes all providing great listening material.

In the early 1980s, synth pop songs often had weird lyrics. Visage's Fade To Grey was heavy with atmosphere, and the line "Feel the rain like an English summer" definitely needed no explanation, but what was the song about? Pass. Or what about the Cure's 1983 hit The Walk: "I saw you look like a Japanese baby, in an instant, I remember everything." Uh?! I didn't mind. I loved weird, mind stretching lyrics, and the whole mood and atmosphere of the synth pop era. It was great to move to as well.

The pop group Duran Duran formed in 1978. In May 1980, Simon Le Bon joined and in 1981 they were futuristic dandies, taking over the charts, their every movement eagerly followed by a growing band of dedicated Duranies.


New Romantics were big news.

Toyah did well with her terrific image and peculiar brand of middle class Punk music.The first London Marathon was run.

The great
Rubik's Cube shortage ended in the spring, the country was now fully stocked, and the children's programme Tiswas launched a new campaign - SOC - "Stamp Out Cubes". The Cube was everywhere and was voted Toy of the Year for the second year running.

I remember being in a bus shelter with a gang of my mates during 1981. It was pouring with rain, but we "woz" all right in the shelter. One of us had brought their trannie (this was before ghetto blasters) and we all had our Cubes. We twirled them, listening to the likes of Stand & Deliver, which we all loved, and finally one of "der" lads cried: "I've done it! I've done the Cube!" And he had. Or at least one face of it. That was the closest any of us ever came to it.


Rubik's Cube contests between schools began. We were long-time rivals with the other comprehensive school in our district, so, when a Rubik's Cube contest was arranged between us in June 1981, we were absolutely determined to win. Our main hope, a boy called Andrew, was amazingly fast - his hands would become a blur of movement and, hey presto, the Cube would be completed in well under a minute. So we were optimistic. But disaster struck. Andrew was "off sick" on the day of the contest, and we had to send a substitute. We lost, and, to make matters worse, we were beaten by a girl. We never really lived it down.


 Still, Rubik's Cube provided inspiration for one of the funniest new TV ads of 1981. Hamlet Cigars with their famous "give up whatever you're doing and have a puff to the strains of Bach's Air On A G String" series, added a Cube-themed version. A pair of hands (actually belonging to English mathematician and cube wizard David Singmaster) were seen completing the cube in less than a minute. Then, each face of the cube was surveyed and guess what? One square was obstinately out of place. The match was struck, cue music and... "Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet..." 

CB radio was legalised on the 2nd of November and shops immediately sold out of the first British models as the public went CB crazy.

Norfolk turkey farmer Bernard Matthews came up with his "bootiful" advertising phrase in 1980 and the first of the fondly remembered TV ads was screened in 1981.

"Midnight, not a sound from the pavement..." The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats made its debut.

Royal Wedding fever struck and Charles and Diana even had the honour of appearing on a Rubik's Cube.

Riots erupted in several inner cities, inspiring the Specials' haunting song Ghost Town.

In America, the first space shuttle was launched on 12th April. Another 1981 American launch was MTV.

The march of the "Women For Life On Earth", from Cardiff, Wales, to Berkshire, England, in August/September 1981, was the origin of the Greenham Common Peace Camp.

Concerns about the possibility of inappropriate spending of dinner money were voiced as the increasingly popular
Space Invaders machines were installed in recreation areas at certain schools.


Donkey jackets and 'Y' (Yale) cardigans started coming into fashion.


John McEnroe got into trouble at Wimbledon and gave us a new catchphrase "YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! THE BALL WAS IN!" Joe Dolce had us all shouting "SHADDUPPA YA FACE!" and the Walkman name appeared in this country for the first time. Cliff Richard carried one in the roller disco-based video for Wired For Sound. By 1983, personal stereos were becoming a must have. Roller discos had been a growing trend in America since c. 1979.


Phones became a little more mobile on 19 November 1981 as BT brought in their new-style plug and socket phones, still in use today - which made movement and replacement of house phones quite a lot easier!

 
Noele Gordon was sacked from her role as Meg Mortimer in Crossroads. The pivotal character in the serial since its beginning in 1964, Noele left in November and the oh-so-familiar reception area, on screen since the motel's refurbishment in the late 1960s, burned down.Noele, known to her friends as "Nolly", then appeared on Russell Harty's chat show, sang a song called Goodbye, and got all tear sodden. Oh dear.

Bucks Fizz won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK with Making Your Mind Up.

Did YOU do the
Birdie Dance in 1981? Many people did, including Benny in the Christmas edition of Crossroads; Ronnie Corbett stepped into sitcoms with Sorry and some viewers found Thomas Magnum, PI, "quite dishy".

Only Fools And Horses was the start of a TV classic, and Dangermouse and
Willo The Wisp were great kids' telly. Postman Pat and Mr Spoon, bound for Button Moon, arrived for the little'uns.

"Watching us." "Watching you." "Watching us." "Watching you." Yes, it was Sarah Kennedy, Jeremy Beadle and Henry and Matthew Kelly with Saturday teatime "treat" Game For A Laugh.

Bullseye began. "Well, you can't beat a bit of bully, can you?" said Jim Bowen. Many of us agreed.

IBM introduced the first true PC - designed to be an "affordable business machine". Still pricey to the average person, but they would catch on later.

"And now I'm all alone in bedsit land, my only home..."

The "Fabulous Soft Cell" actually were pretty fabulous in my opinion.

"Government Leaving The Youth On The Shelf..."

We'd had over a million unemployed in Britain since the early 1970s. Now it was over two million and rapidly rising and the government did not appear, to many, to give a damn. The brilliant Ghost Town by the Specials, on the famous Two Tone label, captured the mood of frustration and decay.

A newspaper advertisement for a new branch of Tandy's, December 1981. Just look at those (now) prehistoric computers - click on image for closer view!

A First Glimpse Of Prince...

A first glimpse of Prince - the funky American pop maestro, who was bringing what was being touted as "US Punkfunk" to England in this 1981 newspaper ad for the New Musical Express.

Whilst some attribute the origins of Punk to the likes of Iggy Pop in the America of the late 1960s, America's fully-fledged Punk scene was, of course, later than ours and lacked the snarling attitude (and repeated 1950s guitar riffs!) of bands like the Sex Pistols.

Prince first charted here in February 1983 with 1999.

Bruce Springsteen was also heading our way and were the Rolling Stones about to split up? There was only one way to discover the answers - buy a copy of the New Musical Express, "your ruder rudder through life's stormy seas".

The ad's "Di" and "Charlie" references reflected 1981's outbreak of Royal Wedding fever.

Shaddap Your Face!


No 1 in England and Australia - this is the German single. The Joe Dolce Music Theatre seemed to be EVERYWHERE!!

Here in England, we were all shouting "Shaddap Your Face!" for yonks.

Daft times - happy memories!


Some of us even wore the badge...

Castrol GTX - Liquid Engineering - and Flora - The Margarine For Men

Remember the ad on the telly? This silent version appeared in the Daily Mirror in May 1981.

Good old Flora! It was nice that something was for men!

"The Oldest Swinger In Town..."

Fred Wedlock was, of course, The Oldest Swinger In Town.

I now know the feeling.

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If They were Me and I was You...

Wickedly spoofed by Pamela Stephenson on Not The Nine 0'Clock News, Clare Grogan and her Altered Images pals didn't care. I liked them - especially Don't Talk To Me About Love. I liked Pam's spoof, too.

1982 - Falklands, Gotta Lotta Bottle, ZX Spectrum, ET, Dynasty On The Beeb, Pixie Boots, Fame, Deelyboppers, Pac-Man, legwarmers and lycra leggings

If 1987 was a posh cocktail at a trendy wine bar, 1982 was a pint and a packet of cheese and onion at The Laughing Donkey. Probably wearing deelybobbers - aka deelyboppers aka bonce boppers. The name ("deely-bobbers" - according to 20th Century Words by John Ayto) was registered in the USA in 1982, with claim of usage since 1981. Previously it had been applied to a children's toy - a type of interconnecting building block.

1980s deelybobbers were glitter-covered polystyrene baubles, on springs, attached to a headband. They were daft but fun and highly popular after their arrival here in the second half of 1982, and throughout 1983.

In this country, I seem to recall them being referred to as "deelyboppers" not "bobbers" back then.
And many other names!

I personally favoured "deelyboppers" but, whatever they were called, I thought they were brilliant. More here
.

The Falklands War raged and Mrs Thatcher briefly lost son Mark in the desert.

Erika Roe streaked at Twickenham.

The Queen awoke to find an intruder in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace.
Michael Fagan sat chatting to her. When he asked her for a fag, she managed to summon help.

Princess Anne told press photographers to "NAFF ORF!" - more here.

The Fame TV series, based on the 1980 film, began on the BBC, and legwarmers, Fame tank tops and sweat shirts were hot.

Grandmaster Flash gave us the brilliant The Message and the Hip Hop scene was on the way.

Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar introduced us to body popping on Top of the Pops. More here.

England, too, produced quality pop. How about Orville's Song, for starters? Or Toto Coelo's I Eat Cannibals? No? Suit yourself.

Pac-Man, invented back in 1980, was the big WOW at our amusement arcades in 1982.

"Nice Cold Ice Cold Milk!" - the fabulous "Gotta Lotta Bottle" milk ads began. More here.

Trevor Beattie came up with one of the most fondly remembered TV ads of the 1980s - Bixie, Dunk, Brian, Crunch and Brains - the Weetabix - "OK?!" More here.
-
Black lycra leggings, ending around the knee, were coming into fashion. Lovely when worn under a rah rah skirt. Pixie boots were a must-have. Boys loved sta prest drainpipes and white socks and the donkey jacket was rampant. The donkey jacket was adopted by girls too, and a trend began for having their names printed on the plastic panel at the back.

As large numbers of girls took up that formerly male fashion, the donkey jacket, boys were less enthusiastic about pixie boots and legwarmers!

My mate Pete was one of the few blokes I knew who wore legwarmers. "Ah," he says, when I remind him of that fact, "But they were always white ones. They had to be white."

What has that got to do with it?!

Pete also wore pixie boots.

"They were cowboy boots!" he now insists. Yeah, right, mate...

The fitness fad was on with the release of the F-Plan Diet and the Jane Fonda Workout video. Sadly, the price of video machines, even to rent, was still prohibitive to many.

The term "Sloane Ranger" had been coined in the mid-1970s, and the publication of The Sloane Ranger's Handbook - The First Guide To What Really Matters In Life by Ann Barr and Peter York in 1982 aroused great interest in the "Ok, yah," brigade.

ET was the darling of the flicks and boosted sales of BMX bikes no end. We were all going around saying "ET phone home" for months, too.

CB radio continued to thrill, inspiring a storyline in Coronation Street that could have been entitled "When Eddie ("Slim Jim") met Marion ("Stardust Lil")" and a storyline in Terry and June that could have been entitled "When Terry got Trapped in the Back of a Lorry in His Car".


The wonderfully anarchic and surreal The Young Ones gave TV comedy a boot up the bottom.

Dynasty was first shown on the BBC on the 1st of May, but Alexis did not appear until the final episode of the first series, a veiled figure in a courtroom scene. In the second series, she was revealed to be our very own Joan Collins (American soap producers seemed to think that a posh English accent gave class to their shows).

Alexis would soon become an 80s legend, but let's not forget the others - Fallon, Pamela Sue Martin, previously the wholesome Nancy Drew; Blake, played by John Forsythe (we couldn't wait to see what Charlie from Charlie's Angels looked like!) and the lovely Krystle - played by the equally lovely Linda Evans. There were many others. Such glitz. Such gloss. Such shoulder pads. Great fun.

Channel Four began, bringing us Countdown, Treasure Hunt, revolutionary soap Brookside and more alternative comedy with The Comic Strip Presents. Ronald Allen (David Hunter of Crossroads) would never be viewed in quite the same way after his stint as Uncle Quentin!


Channel Four also gave us The Tube.

The first Rubik's Cube World Championships were held in Hungary.

Hair gel was becoming an absolute must-have. I was never without a jar, and teased my hair into the weirdest shapes possible.

Boy George flounced onto the pop scene, raising more than a few eye brows.

Duran Duran shoved up the sleeves of their big-shouldered, brightly coloured jackets whilst messing about on the water for the Rio video. The reason? It was a hot day!

The brightly-coloured-jacket-with-pushed-up-sleeve-look became one of the defining looks of the 1980s.

American actor Don Johnson was impressed and ordered similar jackets, but made out of linen, for his character in Miami Vice, which began in America 1984 and popped over here in early '85.

Hi-tec '82 - the ZX Spectrum was launched, complete with rubber keys and "Pong".

Doris From Fame And Sheila Chandra From Monsoon - Look-In Covers From 1982...

"Baby look at me and tell me what you see..." We see Doris on the cover of a Look-In magazine which contained an invitation for readers to meet the kids from Fame in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW!

Fame, the TV series, had debuted here in June 1982 and was becoming very popular. Later in the year, the kids visited England. More here.

Other goodies in this issue of Look-In included The Fall Guy, Bananarama and... er... Cannon & Ball.

Ex-Grange Hill actress Sheila Chandra was the singer with Monsoon, the group which gave us Ever So Lonely, an excellent fusion of pop and Asian music - considered by many to be the first world music hit. Hadn't heard it for years, recently found it on a compilation CD. Highly chuffed!

I Eat Cannibals...

All I wanna do is make a meal of you...

... If we are what we eat, you're my kind of meat...

Remember those lyrics from Toto Coelo? I Eat Cannibals was a smashing piece of pop fun. You disagree? Suit yourselves, but I loved it then and love it now... oh sweet memories of youth!

In the USA, the group was known as "Total Coelo" after MOR group Toto made noises about the "Toto" part of Toto Coelo.

Back to those lyrics...

Hot pot, cook it up - I'm never gonna stop

yum yum, gee it's fun - I'm banging on a drum...

One member of Toto Coelo had a father who had been a celebrity for years, and whose career was shortly to receive a major boost...

... yep, band member Ros Holness was the daughter of Bob Holness, who would be appearing on the highly successful telly quiz Blockbusters from 1983 onwards.

In 1982, Bob was a radio newsreader and, for both his daughters, "P" was for pop...

From The Sun, September 1982:

Radio newsman Bob Holness has become pop's top pop.

Both his daughters, Carole and Ros, have records in the charts, although the former Radio One DJ, who is now the star of Independent Radio News, did not want the girls to have pop careers.

Ros is in the group Toto Coelo, whose record "I Eat Cannibals" is at number nine, and Carole, better known as Nancy Nova, has a single "No, No, No," hovering in the lower reaches.

Holness says: "They were both trained as actresses and I tried to steer them away from the pop business, but my guidance had the opposite effect.

"Now I'm rather pleased about their success. You can't really be worried if they succeed."

Carole was also in the original Toto Coelo until she broke away for a solo career.

"Don't Push Me 'Cos I'm Close To The Edge..."

The Hip Hop scene was really taking shape in 1982. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five pointed the way with the gob smackingly brilliant The Message.

The groundbreaking character of The Message,
with its gritty, socially aware lyrics, cannot be doubted - and its influence on the Hip Hop scene was massive.

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn't get far
’cuz a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

Don't push me ’cuz I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
Uh huh ha ha ha
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got social security
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

Don’t push me 'cuz I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
Uh huh ha ha ha
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
and scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I'm goin’ insane
I swear I might hijack a plane!

Don’t push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
'cuz the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
if I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
'cuz it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park 'cuz it’s crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun 'cuz they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say “You want some more?”
Livin’ on a see-saw

Don’t push me 'cuz I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
Say what?
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he's frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You’ll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin’ big cars, spending twenties and tens
And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
’til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young so...

Don’t push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
Uh huh huh huh huh
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
Huh, uh huh huh huh huh
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
Huh, uh huh huh huh huh…

More on the blossoming 1980s hip hop scene below - just click on subject.

Hip hop in England - 1983

Break dancing - 1983

Hip Hop as 1984 craze

Run-DMC in London - 1985



Even A Slight Remark Makes Nonsense And Turns To Shark...

The Associates brought us the unforgettable Party Fears 2... synthy, creepy, dancey and sort of schizoid...

I'll have a shower, then phone my brother up. Within the hour, I'll smash another cup. Please don't start saying that, or I'll start believing you...

Genius.

Vince & Alf...

A copy of Smash Hits from May 1982.

Ex-Depeche Mode member, synth maestro Vince Clarke, was terrific alongside Alison "Alf" Moyet in Yazoo. Vince went on to form the Assembly and then partnered Andy Bell in Erasure. Alison went on to a successful solo career. Her terrific voice stopped my mother's moan of many years standing that "modern pop singers can't sing!"

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"At This Moment, You Mean Everything..."

Here's a nice badge from my collection. What visit to 1982 would be complete without a quick burst of "tooh-rye-tooh-rye-ay"? Cheers to Dexy's Midnight Runners for Come On Eileen - undoubtedly one of the best songs ever written (or so it seems after I've had a few pints).

Prince William...

The Sun, 29/6/1982. 


The accompanying article began:  

Presenting Baby Bright Eyes - the most famous baby in the world - with his adoring Mum [Charles was not included in the photograph featured inside the paper].

The first official pictures of the newest Royal family are released today - the first wedding anniversary of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales lies happily against his mother's warm shoulder for the photo session at Kensington Palace.

The tiny Prince was just four weeks old when the pictures were taken on July 20...

Henry's Cat and Metal Mickey...

Henry's Cat and his mate Chris Rabbit first appeared in the BBC's 5.35pm slot (just before the news!) on 12 September 1983. Created by Stan Hayward and animated and narrated by Bob Godfrey (of Roobarb fame), this "children's" series was a hoot. I never missed an episode if I could help it, despite the fact that we never saw Henry. Or found out his cat's name.

Oh hooray - it's Metal Mickey's Boogie Book. There had been a couple of series of this show, ruining my Saturday teatimes, since it arrived in 1980, and I never warmed to it - although I was a fan of one of its stars, Irene Handl. She called Metal Mickey "fluff", he called her "my little fruitbat". 

Metal Mickey also said "boogie boogie" a lot, which was the signal for everybody around him to start dancing.

I wasn't actually part of the target audience, which is perhaps why MM gave me the pip. Mind you, I wasn't part of the target audience for Dangermouse, Willo The Wisp, Henry's Cat or, later in the decade, Duckula and the tiny tots' puppet series The Riddlers, but I still loved 'em. I was, and am, a big kid at heart. So maybe the reason I didn't like MM was simply 'cos it was rubbish?

Answers on a postcard please...

However, back in those (far) simpler days of the 1980s, MM was wildly popular.

In more recent years, the BBC's priggish and factually inaccurate I Love... series sneered at and slammed the show in a most highhanded fashion.

Even I didn't think it was that bad!

Poor old "Fluff"!

My younger sisters go all gooey-eyed and nostalgic whenever he's mentioned.

And what do I know about anything?

1983: The World's First Mobile Phone; Compact Discs; Garfield; Hip Hop; Flashdance; Blockbusters; Blue Monday; No. 73; Wallies; Sloane Rangers

Top of the nation's list of concerns this year was unemployment. In 1980, it had been inflation. Inflation, which had been such a tremendous worry during the 1970s, was down but the unemployment figures were going up. And up. And up...

We'd been horrified when unemployment passed the million mark, for the first time since the 1930s, in the early 1970s, but we hadn't seen anything yet... we now had three million unemployed. Yes, three million. And the 1979 Tory election slogan had been Labour Isn't Working! But never mind. Thatcher and co told us this nasty medicine was necessary. Once we had a stable, competitive economy everything would be rosy. Trust them, that was all they asked. Hmm...

The Hip Hop scene was evolving fast, born of the American rap scene. In 1983, the scene swept across England. Youngsters could be seen in city centres across the land, breakdancing and body popping. The boombox (aka the ghetto blaster) had arrived and was an essential piece of kit.

The boombox had developed from the radio cassette recorder, and the term boombox was probably first coined at the beginning of the 80s
. This was when the things began to grow rapidly in size. I recall them being called "ghetto blasters" here, and don't think I ever heard the name "boombox" back then.

In England in 1983, it was trendy to cover your boombox/ghetto blaster in stickers and no blank wall was safe from a spot of Hip Hop graffiti.

Our neighbours' eleven-year-old son painted "Hip Hop" on the side wall of his family home. I was impressed - it was a fine piece of work, like something out of a breakdance film, but his reward from his parents was a scrubbing brush, a bucket of soapy water and the loss of two weeks' pocket money. As I said to the lad, "Some people just don't appreciate art!"

I will always remember this as the year of Blue Monday by New Order. I hated it at first. Just a disorganised mass of synthy bits and guitar chords, thought I. Within a week, I not only had the record but was playing it around twelve times a day. Magic.

Sky TV didn't arrive until 1989, so I couldn't see MTV. Could anybody in England at this point? But the effects of the music video revolution were being felt - never more so than with Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Another trend that was reaching our level was continental quilts. You could buy them from mail order catalogues and pay for them in small regular amounts. But did you want them? This was debated long and hard. A conversation between two woman, which I heard in a local shop in early 1983, went something like this...

Carol: "I wouldn't want my feet sticking out. You can't tuck 'em in. It'd probably fall off in the night and you know my bedroom window doesn't fit properly - I'd freeze. And they can't be that warm either. Fancy just having one cover!"

Wendy: "The trouble with you, Carol, you don't think things through. I've ordered one from Audrey's catalogue. You can get different thicknesses, summer, winter, all that, and you can always put a candlewick over the top and tuck it in to hold it in place."

Carol was most impressed.

Flashdance, the film sensation of 1983, was a bit like Fame, but with better dancing. The film started a trend amongst the girlies for wearing off the shoulder tops.

Welsh songstress Bonnie Tyler scored a tremendous hit with Total Eclipse of the Heart.

What was the Total Eclipse video about? There was Bonnie, a singer I'd been fond of for a few years, rushing around a country house with big hair and boys in loin cloths.

What was all that about?


My mate Pete had the answer: "A headmaster's daughter who's gone off her rocker."


"Oh, right. How do you know that?"

"I read it in the paper."

"Fair enough..."

The hand-held mobile was still in the future for us here in England, but BT gave us its first cordless phone.


The first commercially available hand-held cellular phone ever was unveiled in 1983. Motorola had invested fifteen years of research and $100 million in the advancement of cellular technology, and the story stretched back much further than that. The first hand-held mobile was called the DynaTAC 8000X and was unveiled on March 6th. It was, of course, a brick. At a price of $3,995 it wasn't for everybody. More here.

It may have been late 1982 or during 1983 but Compact discs were first marketed here around this time. As with many new things, the price was prohibitive and it would be some years before they were widespread. Read all about them here.

Computers began talking the same BASIC language and the internet was on the way.

"B" was for brilliant Bob Holness as
Blockbusters began. The original American version had begun in October 1980, but our version was best - who else could host it like Bob?!

Children's TV show Number 73, which had begun in the TVS area in 1982, was networked.

A certain Mr JR Hartley went searching for a copy of his book, Fly Fishing, and found it with a little help from Yellow Pages. More here.
Breakfast TV arrived: on the BBC we had Selina Scott, Frank Bough (in some lovely jumpers) and Francis the weatherman. The style was sofa-based and relaxed.

TV-am, ITV's breakfast time service, was also sofa based but a little more formal as Angela Rippon, Anna Ford, David Frost, Robert Kee and Michael Parkinson set out with their "mission to explain". The mission never really got off the ground, and it wasn't long before "The Famous Five" had been replaced by Anne "don't call me Annie!" Diamond, former sports presenter Nick Owen, weather girl Wincey Willis and Roland Rat - "Yeeaaarrrgggh!".

Australian soap Sons and Daughters came to English afternoon telly. Lucky viewers in some ITV regions got their first look at the feuding Hamilton and Palmer families in 1983, and quickly took "Pat the Rat", played by Rowena Wallace, to their hearts. The actors were greatly admired for their ability to freeze and turn sepia at the end of each episode. Production on the show in Australia took place from 1981 to 1987.

Garfield, the American fat cat, was becoming popular over here, with a range of merchandise available at Clinton Cards.

Care Bears were the year's cute and cuddlies, but the end of the year held something quite different: newspapers from 1983 record that just before Christmas some Cabbage Patch Dolls had made their way from America to England. In great demand, they came with their own adoption certificates and, by the look of them, a nasty attack of mumps.

"Choose Life" slogan T-shirts and luminous fingerless gloves were all the rage. Thanks, Wham! But who came up with the idea for wearing odd coloured luminous socks? Don't know, don't want to know!

Some brave everyday blokes were beginning to wear pink and putting blonde highlights in their hair.

Thatcher won a second term in office (Boo! Hiss!).

"Wally" was a popular mild insult and How To Be A Wally was published.

Terrahawks

This charming lady was called Zelda - an alien from Gerry Anderson's 1980s Sunday teatime series, Terrahawks. There was a game of noughts and crosses mixed up in the credits and, sat there, more often than not recovering from a clanging hangover, a legacy from the night before, I used to love it. Anybody else remember it? This 1983 edition of Look-In also offered us Knight Rider, Dangermouse, Tracey Ullman and Abba. Good, eh?
What a feeling...

Care Bears

Take heart - some bears were extra caring in the 1980s. The Care Bears arrived in England c. 1983.

My Little Pony

The My Little Pony Dream Castle, 1984...

Before My Little Pony there was My Pretty Pony, a larger toy - each one standing about ten inches high. These were on sale in the USA from 1981 onwards, until at least 1983. My Little Pony, by Hasbro, arrived in American toy shops in 1983 and then trotted over to England.

The Dream Castle packaging.

The ponies had names like Bowtie, Confetti and Peachy (sorry, I don't know the names of the two pictured above!). I seem to recall that at least one of them wore leg warmers.

Looking down on the castle...
-
The ponies appeared in their own TV series and in a film and were wildly popular, becoming one of the best selling girls' toys ever.
The Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart - Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, a chilling 1980s synth classic. Annie and Dave first charted as The Tourists in 1979, with a disappointing cover of 1960s Dusty Springfield classic I Only Want To Be With You, previously (and equally naffly) covered by the Bay City Rollers in 1976. In the early 1980s Annie and Dave transformed themselves into the highly excellent Eurythmics and never looked back.

The Cadbury's Chocolate Block Mug...

The Cadbury's Chocolate Block mug was new in 1983 (this advertisement is from the TV Times, 19-25 February 1983) and a fun concept.

30.5.05

1984 - Band Aid, Trivial Pursuit, Computer Mouse, Moon Boots, V, Spitting Image, Agadoo, Madonna, Growing Shoulder Pads, Mrs Antrobus In Ambridge...

1984 saw us moving into the Yuppie era. For many, the financial hard times were over. They had been grinding on since the early 1970s, and suddenly people seemed to be going a bit money mad.

But it wasn't all jam. The miners' strike began in protest at their latest pay offer and planned pit closures. A long and bitter time lay ahead for them and their families. Over the next few years, we also heard a lot about the "North/South Divide". Whilst the South of England boomed, things in the North of this country, and in Wales and Scotland were not nearly so good.


The North/South Divide was nothing new, but traditional industries in some parts of the UK had been declining for years, and the policies of the Thatcher government were doing nothing to alleviate the situation.

It wasn't all bad news, at least for those not living in England: public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was higher than in England, and had been for several years, via a system called the Barnett Formula.

Back in 1984 I was suffering from Thatcher phobia and couldn't even bear to hear her voice on the TV or radio. The merest sight or sound of her was enough to send me diving for the "off" button.

MAGGIE! MAGGIE! MAGGIE! OUT! OUT! OUT! GRRRR!!!!

1984 saw the blossoming of the openly gay pop star era in England. Paul Rutherford and Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the brilliant Bronski Beat and Boy George (who had declared himself "bisexual" and a "poof with muscles" in an interview with Titbits magazine in late 1983), all showed the way forward.

I remember back in the summer of 1980, reading in a Sunday tabloid that a well-known male pop star was bisexual. I recall my mother's shocked expression and my stepfather's angry growls at the news. A few years later, they bought my little sister a Boy George doll and were allowing her to display posters of openly gay pop stars on her bedroom wall.

And this during the era of "AIDS - the gay plague" in certain tacky newspapers. The 1980s really were a multi-faceted time. Looking back, the decade often seems chaotic and exhausting.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood stormed the charts with Relax. Banned by the BBC for its saucy gay references, the song went to No 1. But that wasn't the only reason - it's a brilliant piece of dance music. On the back of Frankie's success, "Frankie Say Relax" T-shirts flew into the shops.

"Sell him your soul, sell him your soul - never look back!" Propaganda, the totally brilliant German electro-pop group, gave us the absolutely awesome Dr Mabuse. Loved it. Still do.

Of course, this was 1984, and the Eurythmics' Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty Four) drove me completely barmy on the dance floor. Music was getting faster. Harder. We were in the era of what I call "80s clatter pop", and I was head-over-heels for it.

But let's come back down to earth, shall we? All together now: "Aga doo doo doo..." This song, with its attendant silly dance, drove us all potty. However, I hold my hand up to dancing to it, doing all the movements, and enjoying it on more than one occasion after a few pints. Blush, blush.


Shoulder pads, 1984-style, were getting beyond a joke. Slowly growing since around 1982, they hadn't quite reached critical mass yet, but Chaka Khan, Alexis and Krystle were certainly looking a little burdened.
Miami Vice began in America and the Don Johnson look became a trend - linen jackets with shoulder pads, the outline of the pads clearly defined through the thin material, so men were not left out.


Shoulder pads were part of the "Power Dressing" image. The phrase was first recorded in 1980, according to the Twentieth Century Book of Words by John Ayto (Oxford, 1999). Back then, it meant a smart, efficient look for executive women. But as the 80s continued the shoulders grew and grew.

Colourful Moon Boots were another fashion sensation of 1984.

Mullets were starting to move into the Yuppie era by becoming big and bouffant, though it would be a few years before they reached maxi-size. The name "mullet" for this popular hairstyle would not come into use until the 1990s.

The aforementioned combinations of bright and drab colours - like yellow and grey - were becoming more and more popular in decor and clothing. Lycra was being worn more and more outside of gym, aerobics or Yoga sessions. The new lycra dresses showed off the "fit for business" figure of the mid-80s woman.

Computers took a great leap forward in 1984 - the Apple Macintosh came with its own "mouse".

In Russia, then still very much "behind the Iron Curtain", Tetris was invented.

Did you pursue the trivial in 1984? Many people did as the British edition of Trivial Pursuit
made its debut in January.

We bid farewell to Sale of the Century this year. Never "hip", even at the start, it was, none the less, preferable to the American style gameshow The Price Is Right. Hosted by Leslie Crowther, the hysterical contestants and audience drove many to the "off" button.

And then there was 60s singer Cilla Black and Surprise, Surprise. Cilla had become a TV presenter when her singing career folded, and her TV career continued throughout the 70s and 80s (and 90s). On Surprise, Surprise, she sat on the "Cilla sofa" seeking to reunite long lost loved ones and bring the odd bit of light into people's lives by popping up in filmed sequences with a song. Lovely.

Spitting Image was brilliant, savage satire. If only there were programmes like it nowadays...


The skies over England are usually full of rain clouds, but was that an alien mother ship I saw in 1984? Diana and the V invasion on ITV made a pleasant alternative (for some) to the Olympics coverage on the Beeb.

In the BBC Radio 4 serial The Archers, Mrs Marjorie Antrobus (Margot Boyd) put in her first appearance, giving a talk on "The Colourful World Of The Afghan Hound" to the Ambridge Women's Institute.

The charity record Do They Know It's Christmas? was, of course, Christmas Number One. It was the brainchild of one Bob Geldof, formerly of the Boomtown Rats. Bob had been deeply moved by TV news footage of famine stricken people in the Third World, and enlisted the help of Midge Ure to put the song together. They then assembled the great and the good of the pop scene to sing it - "Band Aid", they called it. Boy George arrived late, but the record was on shop shelves in time for Christmas.