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9.12.15

Back To A 1980s Christmas - Part 1...


This 1986 men's cardigan sums up a lot about why I love 1980s fashion. We men were free to wear nice colours without people making assumptions about our sexuality. Being a straight peacock, I was in my element. The cardie is, of course, suitable for Christmas wear too. I'll be wearing it this year, actually.

"I have a picture. Pinned to my wall. An image of you and of me and we're laughing with love at it all..."

Those were the days. When shoulder pads came in dinner plate sizes - complete with velcro, when jelly shoes were a wow, when Rubik's ruled, when Christmas was Christmas...

Well, it was too comercialised, of course. But then, I was born in 1965 and it's been said that Christmas is too comercialised for as long as I can remember.

But at least most shops were closed on Boxing Day.

And there was no greedy rumpus on Black Friday. In fact, we'd never even heard of Black Friday. 

Here is the start of a little series of posts that will bring the 1980s Christmas back to life...

Enjoy...


Of course, in the 1980s, not all political parties were the same and the old Labour Party was vehemently anti-Tory, not merely the same thing (but less honest and sometimes worse) under a different name. In those days it was politics, not "The X-Factor" or ipods that occupied a lot of our thoughts. Here's a 1984 Labour Party Christmas card, with a privatised Santa selling toys on the street - complete with Rubik's Cube, of course...

Here's that strange, stuttering computer-animated bloke Max Headroom. He'd joined forces with the Art of Noise (remember "Paranoimia"?) and had brief chart success. Here's an unusual jigsaw promo from Chrysalis records. Relax. You're quite safe here...


Now, this was an excellent stocking filler. Ever since the arrival of the Sony Walkman in 1980, cassettes had been growing in popularity (although the compact disc arrived a little later in the 1980s, they were pretty expensive) and so the WH Smith cleaning cassette was a must for many of us. Keep those tape heads clean, and you might avoid having your tapes eaten by your machine.


Here's a lovely WH Smith personal stereo - complete with a radio. So you could listen to Steve Wright In The Afternoon or Our Tune on the move, then slot in the Thompson Twins. Swingorilliant!


Ah, 1981! Lovely radio cassettes, a digital clock radio, and a "phonesitter". Eh? Kind of answer phone thingy. Not cheap. And not at all common. But the 1980s saw the answer phone becoming more and more prevelant.


We end this first 2015 visit to the 1980s Christmas with a last bit of sauce (probably cranberry) from the dear-departed Labour Party. The spirit of protest was strong... the two humans seem to have got their placards jumbled, but the turkey knows what it's doing...

26.11.15

Snoopy The Cowboy


Cowboy Snoopy in the 1980s: "Howdy, Pardner!"

Pauline wrote to ask what my favourite Snoopy fantasy figure was after my post about Snoopy and Peanuts in the 1980s.

Well, Pauline, I have to say the classic Red Baron scenario is close, but my winner is Snoopy as a cowboy. I had the "howdy, pardner!" pic in my room (it dates from the mid-1980s) and found it a friendly and humorous companion!

Cowboy Snoopy was very prevalent in merchandising during the 1980s (perhaps as a tribute to former actor Ronald Reagan, well known for his cowboy roles). I also have a Determined Productions plastic figure from 1983, with Snoopy in the cowboy role.

Snoopy And The Gang Out West, a lovely book about the history and ways of the American Wild West, was published by Determined in 1983.

Below is Snoopy, with Woodstock, in "hog heaven" with raisin corn bread, and the attendant recipe from the book.

Snoopy And The Gang Out West - yummy!

12.11.15

My 50th Birthday - The Alannah Currie Card...


 For my birthday - it's 80's Alannah!

She had it all - talent, beauty and her very own '80s style...
 

My fiftieth birthday came and went in October with a great 1980s-themed party thrown for me by my wonderful family.

It was a terrific occasion, I had many cards and gifts from family and friends, and was made to feel thoroughly special.

One very thoughtful gesture of kindness came from my long-suffering personal trainer, Gary.

Gary is a bloke who has contributed a great deal to my health and general well-being over the last few years as I have an illness which necessitates a fitness regime. Gary is a top bloke who endures my endless whitterings during each PT session. "Gary! Name three major events of 1982!" "Gary! Why can't they play more '80s music at this gym? This modern stuff is so weedy!" "Gary! Who played Archie Gibbs in Crossroads?" "Gary! I can't possibly go on the treadmill today - I was on my feet all day at work yesterday!" 

And: "Gary! Don't you think Alannah Currie was the most beautiful pop star of the 1980s? Knocks spots off Madonna, doesn't she?"

I've written about my love for Alannah elsewhere on this blog (check out the Thompson Twins label below) but the gym I attend is at a residential centre I lived in for a while in the 1980s, and visiting it always makes me feel nostalgic for those days, and reminds me of my passions and torments from way back then.

Oh, Alannah! Alannah! Be still my fluttering heart! She joined the Thompson Twins when they assumed their classic line-up (the one we all remember - Alannah, Tom Bailey and Joe Leeway) and changed musical direction (switching to synthesizers) in 1982, and her beauty and style captivated me.

Being the absolute professional he is ("The customer is always right"), Gary always agrees with me about the loveliness of Alannah, although I know his tongue is firmly in his cheek. Anyway, for my birthday, completely out of the blue, he presented with me the home made Alannah card pictured above.

And I was dead chuffed.

And touched.

Cheers, Gazza.

But don't think I'm going on that treadmill, mateyboots...

Snoopy And Peanuts In The 1980s...


The release of the first personal stereo in America in 1980 sparked a huge craze, and coincided with - and contributed to - the peak of the roller disco craze. Here's Snoopy, wired for sound.

What a decade for Snoopy and the Peanuts gang the 1980s turned out to be! From Snoopy making his debut on home video and computer games (anyone for Snoopy Tennis?), and the opening of Camp Snoopy at Knott's Berry Farm, to Snoopy stepping out as Flash Beagle, Joe Vice and Boy George, and the continuing cycle of life amongst our favourite American comic strip characters as the strip roared towards its fortieth birthday in 1990, the 1980s were a glittering time for the world's best-loved beagle and his friends.

And they brought new challenges - mostly from new heroes and anti-heroes of the comic strip world, Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield. But Snoopy and co were well able to hold their own and, indeed, the authors of the newcomers acknowledged Charles Schulz's wondrous creations as an inspiration for their own works.

The Snoopy "1980 Collection" mugs. Just how different for America would the decade have been if Snoopy had been elected president in 1980, not Ronald Reagan?

1981 - and Hallmark released a charming series of Peanuts mini-photo frames. Snoopy - "A Real Inspiration", Snoopy love heart, and "Let The Good Times Roll" and Lucy - "Perfect Like Me" - were part of the series.

Camp Snoopy at Knott's Berry Farm opened in 1983. Snoopy looks great as a cowboy!


Continuing the cowboy theme, Snoopy says "Howdy!" This is very similar to a picture I had in my room in the 1980s, with the red and black background and orange frame, but the straw was absent from the mouth,  the phrase was "Howdy, Pardner!" and the smile was wider and cheesier - more like a film star stereotype.

I adore Snoopy. As I set out on my life's journey in the early 1980s, I was given a small framed picture of Snoopy, dressed as a cowboy, with his thought bubble proclaiming "Howdy, Pardner!". I put it up on my bedsit wall. It was a comforting and encouraging presence in the room, and I found it very cheering. Now, with my 50th birthday just past, I have the May 1982 strip below framed on my hall wall. Isn't it fabulous? Snoopy is truly for the whole of your life, from the juvenile jollity of the cowboy pic to the oh-so-true advice for the rather more mature below, Snoopy hands out comforting hugs and sometimes pithy but always excellent advice to everybody. Forget the expensive jollop. There's really only one way to look younger...

1982 - childlike simplicity and tough love truth from Snoopy's Beauty Tips.

Why is Peanuts such a worldwide hit? You don't have to speak English to enjoy it. It's been translated into many different languages, been a huge success in many different lands.

The reason doesn't take much pondering.

It's because Charles Schulz's work is so human. And if you're a human being it's for you.

Well, my favourite character, Snoopy, is, of course, a dog.

But such a human dog, with his fantasy life and zany personality.

I've always been a bit theatrical myself, singing, dancing and experimenting with various characterisations throughout my life.

Life's too short (and reality sometimes too grotty) to just be one person.

So I identify with Snoopy.

I'm also given to low periods in which my self esteem plummets and life becomes one long worry.

So I identify with Charlie Brown.

There are times when I ponder the mysteries of existence, search for the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything and come up with some quite kooky ideas. So kooky, I could suck my thumb for comfort.

So, I identify with Linus. 

Many times I feel small and insignificant, totally swamped by the vastness of the world, the universe, and so on. And yet I have my life, my personality, my own pressing issues.

So I identify with Woodstock.

And sometimes, when I'm tired or unwell, I can rant and gob-off a lot.

So, I (occasionally) identify with Lucy.

1983 - and our very own Boy George's fashionable music loving friend, Boy Snoopy, appears as a cuddly toy.  Was there ever such a trendy beagle as Snoop?

Fads and new technology came thick and fast in the 1980s: in the wake of Flash Dance, Snoopy became Flashbeagle and got into aerobics; there was an outbreak of "temperament" on the tennis court in 1982, after John McEnroe had shaken up the staid atmosphere of Wimbledon in 1981; Lucy got some designer jeans; beanbags proliferated; Marcie attempted to give Peppermint Patty a very '80s hairdo - and Patty succumbed to some other weird do's during the decade (anyone for mousse?); Valley Speak invaded Peppermint Patty's schoolwork when her essay was graded "grody"; the aforementioned Peppermint P got a personal stereo; Trivia (as in Trivial Pursuit) briefly ruled; Woodstock got a beagle blaster - and was the only one in the neighbourhood to have a satellite dish; Charlie Brown discussed yuppies; Sally waited for Halley's Comet; computers began to accelerate into the everyday life of certain characters; and poor lonely Spike wrote to some of the female cast of Dallas to request signed photographs. 

One of my favourite pop culture inclusions from the decade came when Snoopy wondered if his old enemy, the Red Baron, might like a Garfield birthday card. Beautiful.

The Great Pumpkin was revisited on the animated screen in the 1980s Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Linus, Sally (she was there for her "sweet baboo", of course) wait... Sally's "sweet baboo" was not impressed by her presence. It seemed that it was going to be another long, cold and fruitless vigil..

 ... but then something came hurtling across the pumpkin patch... Had Linus's faith been rewarded at last?

Linus, my second favourite Peanuts character, continued to be a (I mean THE) dedicated disciple of The Great Pumpkin in the 1980s, and found that his evangelical fervour could be lucrative. In 1986, the Great Pumpkin actually appeared (for us, not for Linus) and gave us a quick burst of Sinatra, whilst Peppermint Patty introduced other concepts - such as The Great Secretary, and became an involuntary pumpkin wearer.

The 1980s posed big questions for Linus - like how would he fare with a "younger woman" and (GASP!) could he give up his beloved powder blue blanket? No spoilers here!

The 1984 Snoopy Flashbeagle radio.

The sometimes harsh realities of life from an average kid's point of view were often present in Peanuts, but there were many "ups" in the continuing saga, and when Peppermint Patty succumbed to terrorizing herself over thoughts of the End of the World in 1980, good friend Marcie was there to comfort her. And it was touching. It's that same Marcie who called Peppermint Patty "Sir", and let her down when the two became "Mallies" (trendy hangers-out at shopping malls) by actually doing some shopping and being pursued by a certain beagle "punker". But at the end of the day, Marcie was always there for Patty.

Yep, it was touching - but without being schmaltzy.

Friendship can flip into temporary bouts of hatred, particularly when you're a kid, and Marcie and Peppermint Patty's ongoing rivalry for Charlie Brown's attentions actually caused Marcie to resort to hair-yanking violence on one occasion in 1987. There had been minor spats between the two friends before, and there were after. But this particular incident revealed an angst-ridden, passionate soul lurking behind Marcie's somewhat geeky exterior, and it was sad to note that her relationship with Charlie Brown was largely all in her head (CB didn't really reciprocate), just as it was with Peppermint Patty's pash for CB. But, with rivalry reaching boiling point, it was almost like the kids were reaching early teenage-hood at times.

But, of course, they weren't.

This particular strip marked a turning point in my perceptions of the Marcie character, it made her more real, took her beyond being just a quirky and rather cute regular. I found myself promoting her to a favourite character. A couple of years later, parental expectations and the stress this induced in the girl rounded her out even more.

1984 - and Snoopy - a legend in his own mind, is off to the Olympics with a terrific range of PVC figures. A little word about dating Peanuts merchandise here. Some will be dated to the year of manufacture, like the mugs and photo frames at the top of this post, but both dated products and others will probably also feature old copyright dates - 1958, 1965, etc. Bear this in mind as it can be puzzling to find merchandise copyright dated before the character depicted (Peppermint Patty, etc,) even existed, or with characters indulging in popular trends which  postdate the copyright date(s) stamped on the item. 

Some people think that Snoopy, whose character evolved more than somewhat in the 1960s, he of the Walter Mitty style fantasies, rather spoiled the reality of the strip. There's no doubt that the early years of the strip were grittier and somewhat darker at times. But latter-day Snoopy was wonderful. I wouldn't change a thing about him. I loved his caring relationship with Woodstock and his fantasies. But it always came back to reality - with Snoopy on his doghouse, often waiting for his supper. He always seemed a very heartening character to me, making the best of a rather boring existence. And overcoming the handicap of not being human and being able to fulfill his dreams with his fantasies.

At one point in the 1980s, Charlie Brown decided to devote his life to making Snoopy happy. He couldn't keep it up, and he couldn't, of course, read Snoopy's mind as Snoopy replied to Charlie's outpouring of regret at not being able to live up to his aim. Snoopy was already happy. Naturally. His fantasies transported him far away from the mundane realities of his suburban canine existence.

1984 - and with VCRs beginning to appear in more and more homes (in England still only around a quarter of the population had them in 1985), Snoopy's Home Video Library appeared in the States. Viewers could enjoy the exploits of the gang - including the awesome Lucy snatching the ball away from Charlie Brown - whenever they pleased.

What made America great? In the 1980s, we discovered that Peppermint Patty believed it was peanut butter sandwiches. I find it interesting that most of the classroom comic strips from that decade feature Peppermint Patty and Marcie, rather than the older established characters. Of course, Peppermint P was SO interested in her education, she couldn't help nodding off!

In the hi-tec '80s, Snoopy made his debut in computer games - like this Game And Watch Panorama Screen...

... and this Nintendo Table Top Snoopy game..


Here's the game in action - with Snoopy, Schroeder (at his piano, of course!), Lucy and lots of little Woodstocks.

Of the characters who fell by the wayside as the strip evolved, early years nasty girl Violet Gray made a few appearances in the 1980s - including an un-indexed one which appears on page 126 of the 1981-1982 Complete Peanuts volume, in which she is, predictably but enjoyably, snooty to Pigpen - another former regular from the early years.

Violet's role as nasty girl was taken over by Lucy Van Pelt, who was rather more likable (well, it wasn't her fault she had crabby genes!). I thought Violet's loss was a shame in some ways - Lucy couldn't "do" snooty at all! But, taken all in, I wouldn't have been without Lucy, she was a far more rounded character, and I suppose her presence meant there was little space in the stories for Violet.

A brief blow-in in the mid-1980s was a character called Tapioca Pudding, whose father was "in licensing" and, it seemed, wanted to use his daughter's image on various products. As well as  that popular cutesy dolly Strawberry Shortcake, this reminded me of a 1960s Bewitched story, in which Samantha created a doll based on her own daughter - "The Tabitha Stephens Doll" - to get her husband out of trouble with the advertising company he worked for. 

There's now't as queer as folk, as we say here in England.

Probably the ultimate piece of 1980s Snoopy imagery - Charles Schulz gave us Joe Vice in 1986. Forget the Miami version, Crockett and Tubbs? Pah! Snoops and Woodstock were the real deal!


This poster is from a 1986 Peanuts strip - featuring the ever-trendy Snoopy getting down to some serious aerobics, courtesy of a video. Jane Fonda eat your heart out! We love ya, Snoops!

Wow - how's this for a 1980s Peanuts cardigan?! Woodstock, Snoopy and Marcie are indulging in a little chatline chat. Chatlines were a great innovation - hugely enjoyable - until your parents got the phone bill. Peanuts was marketed to the max for decades. But that was OK, because the strip had soul.

So, which era is my favourite for Peanuts? Is it the 1980s? Well, funnily enough, although the 1980s are when I first came to really appreciate the strip, I would have to say no. Much as I love the 1980s Snoopy gang's exploits, having read the Complete Peanuts books, which feature every strip from its beginning in 1950, I would have to say that the 1950s and 1960s take the prize. Reading the debut and evolution of Peanuts has been a tremendous pleasure for me. In the 1970s and 1980s the strip was fully formed and up-and-running. And whilst the 1980s contain probably my favourite Peanuts strip ever ("Don't be born so soon"), and I certainly don't think the strip ever "flagged", I find the first fifteen to twenty years tremendously exciting to read. And re-read. What I missed! Still, I'm glad I wasn't born any sooner (!), and thank heavens for the Complete Peanuts series!

Here's more pearls of wisdom from the 1980s Peanuts strip - this time from Marcie. Charles Schulz was a wise man!

Sadly, Charles Schulz died in the year 2000 and Peanuts came to an end just before his death. But the characters have lived on through republished strips and merchandising and we're shortly to see the new Peanuts Movie.

Snoopy's a cowboy again in this 1987 collection of Peanuts comic strips, complete with neon cacti.

Here in England, Peanuts inspired The Perishers comic strip, which appeared in The Daily Mirror for many years. But while I loved Maisie, Marlon, Wellington and Boot, I loved (and still love) Snoopy far more. National boundaries or oceans were no challenge for Snoopy. He simply ignored them, flew over them (probably in his Sopwith Camel), and stole my heart away. 

Legal beagle Snoopy in England - depicted in this wonderful 1986 lamp, with one of our iconic old-style telephone boxes. If I'd known he was coming, I'd've baked a cake - or some of his beloved chocolate chip cookies!

11.11.15

Only Fools And Horses... ONLY Half-Brothers?



The Peckham Trotters in the 1980s. They bickered and fell out, they loved and supported each other - and Grandad watched two tellies at the same time. Just like any other family. Apart from that last bit.
 
I've had an interesting e-mail from Starvo. Here's an extract:

I know Only Fools... is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, and that it began in the 1980's which you write about on here, but don't you think the revelation that Del and Rodney Trotter were only half-brothers spoiled it a bit? The writer had spent a lot of time building up a believable sibling relationship between the two lead characters, only to make a mockery of it with that. And it meant Rodney wasn't really related to Grandad at all. I felt let down.

Why did you, Starvo? I know a couple of "siblings" today who are "only" half-siblings, but they think the world of each other and have a better relationship than many full-siblings I know. Similarly, I know a "brother" and "sister" who are really only halves, but are unaware of the fact because according to their birth certificates they have the same father. And there are half-siblings in my family, too.

I think the "only" you use to describe the half-sibling bond between Del and Rodney is in a way quite sensible, after all they share half the same origins, not full, but in other ways it's quite odd because it implies that the relationship is less important than full-siblings. I don't believe that is often the case. When I wrote my Only Fools And Horses article on here, I didn't use "only" to describe the tie because Del and Rodney, I simply stated that they were actually half-brothers.

As for Grandad not being a blood relation of Rodney's, I suppose he wasn't. But he was still Rodney's grandad in every other way that mattered.

I think that was one of the greatest things about OFAH. The unity and love of the Trotter family, despite the fact that things were not quite as they might seem, and the situation not being as "respectable" as our squeaky clean 21st Century pundits might like it. Sometimes I think the attitudes of this century are far more old fashioned than the last.

Just a thought to leave you on: step-siblings and adopted siblings have no shared blood at all. Does that make the strong and very real sibling bonds that often exist between them any less real or important than blood-related full siblings? And if not, why did the revelation in OFAH that Del and Rodney were half-brothers make you think that it made a "mockery" of the close sibling relationship between the two?


27.10.15

Fashions Of The 1980s - Jelly Shoes...



Sue writes:

I recall having a pair of jelly shoes when they were a brand new trend and I was about 7 years old in the late 1980s. I loved them. They were a lovely pink colour, and they came from a range called 'Jelly Brights'. Do you recall them? And do you have any good pics or articles about the '80s jelly shoes fashion? It's so funny to see them back in fashion over the last few years. I was there first time around in the '80s.

I do recall them, Sue, and I have a pic from the 1989 Look Again catalogue showing the very range, "Jellybrights", that you remember! I hope you like it.

26.10.15

The History Of The Yuppie Word


A couple of English mid-1980s yuppies in London. They had the big hair. They had the brains. They had the looks. They made lots of money.

Jeanne has written to ask me about how the yuppie word - an acronym pasted onto a model suggested by "hippie" came about.

Well, Jeanne, the term first arrived in print in a May 1980 Chicago Magazine article by Dan Rottenberg, and at that point simply referred to young urban professionals who were buying up houses and apartments in former working class areas and rather destroying the feel of these places in Chicago - with trendy shops and theatres opening to service their needs where once had been old family concerns, etc. Poorer folk who had traditionally lived in those areas were being priced out.

At that point, President Carter was still in charge at the White House, and the booming busting part of the 1980s was not in sight. So, we seem to have quite an innocent local word, not an approval word by any means, but lacking the vehement condemnation and international infamy which would later follow.

After the election and inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 (he was elected in November 1980) this began to change. The term "yuppie" caught fire and was applied to the type of person who flocked to the stock exchange and lived a highly excessive lifestyle, taking full advantage of the new political regime.

The American 'Newsweek' magazine , in its December 31st issue, declared 1984 "The Year Of The Yuppie".  With $600  a month workouts available at the new Definitions Gym in New York (most of us lesser mortals never worked out in those days), continuing "gentrification" of quaint neighbourhoods, property values soaring, Presidential candidate Gary Hart, and the ex-flophouse in Milwaukee which became a "mecca for social drinkers" (complete with ceiling fans) what wasn't there to love?

The yuppie was still pretty dowdy in 1983, if the humorous American Yuppie Handbook and an American mug I have from the same time are anything to go by (they wanted pasta machines, Rolex watches, Sony Walkmans and a VCR), but within a few years the image had altered to that of Wall Street - "Greed Is Good".

The infamous yuppies of the mid-to-late 1980s were apparently ruthless individuals, their lives dominated by the love of money and THINGS. They quaffed champagne. They snorted cocaine. They wanted it all. And they wanted it now.

The word spread to England in the mid-1980s, and was applied to similar types, waving their wads about, who took advantage of the financial knock-on effects of the American Reaganite ethos and the prevailing, highly similar attitudes of the Thatcher governments. They bulled. They beared. They sported the new revamped and highly trendy Filofaxes and the brand new miracle, the handheld brick cell phone ("Yuppie toys!" we called 'em). They drank bottled water. They worked out. They were fit for business. Fit for life.

Of course, not all yuppies were champagne swilling, cocaine snorting, horribly greedy gits with absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but "yuppie" became a buzz word for those who were all or some of these things. The yuppies of the mid-to-late 1980s were horribly grandiose, high tec, greedy, without care. That was the popular view.

And that, as far as I'm aware, is a history of the yuppie word, how it was originally applied and how its usage altered with the changing political regimes and attitudes in America and England as the 1980s progressed.

There was a point, circa 1985, 1986 and 1987 in my home city where I could almost smell the money around about me. The night clubs went neon. The pubs went posh or themed. Glittering new office blocks rose left, right and centre. The supermarkets were full of "posh" (and strange) foods that we'd think nothing of eating now. The smell of wonga hung heavy. But, unfortunately, I never had much. Ah, well, as a care worker at least I could take the moral high ground.

But I couldn't help finding yuppies fascinating.

Read more of our material on them by clicking the "yuppies" label below.

27.9.15

1987: Then Jericho - The Motive... The Business Will Just Steal Your Soul...


"The business will just steal your soul, and that's what I believe.

But where's there truth there's poetry

It happens naturally..."

There's no getting over the riches that the 1980s gave... I'm still blown away by this song. And transported back to that youthful summer of 1987 - with its hair gel and slick dressing...

Well, the 1980s idea of slick dressing.

And the following year would be so different...

Acciiieed! Accciiieed!

There'll never be another 1980s.

17.8.15

This Is England - Shane Meadows - Darling Of The Guardian Reading Lefties...

Karen writes:

What do you think of the This Is England series by Shane Meadows, depicting life in the Thatcher '80s?

Um, poop would probably be a good word, Karen. To be fair, I only watched the first This Is England, supposedly set in 1983, but the atmosphere was far more 1978/1979/1980. It was all more hip hop by 1983. And having read Shane Meadows's bleatings about how he remembers Thatcher coming to power when he was a little tot because his school dinners turned nasty - well, that seemed like poop too.

I was brought up on a sink estate in the 1970s and early 1980s, and it was nothing like This Is England. Shane was too young to really know the early 1980s.

Sorry, I couldn't bear Thatcher - but I can't bear trendy Lefties like Shane Meadows either.

But the Guardian LOVES him.

Enough said.

29.6.15

Greetings Cards of the 1980s... Hanson White's "Giggles" series...




In those far-off '80s days, particularly mid-to-late decade, it seemed that so many new ventures were beginning that it was flipping hard to keep up. If not impossible. Boy, were we booming! Last year, I received a humorous birthday card from a friend - it was part of the Hanson White company's "Giggles" line, and the brand name for some reason stirred memories. Going through a box of my old birthday cards this year, I found an original "Giggles" card from the brand's launch year of 1987.

Great fun - as was the "Giggles" card I received last year, which concerned Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson going on a camping trip and having their tent stolen!

So, "Giggles" have now been around for twenty-eight years!

Time flies when you're having fun...

But whatever happened to Katie, the lady who sent me the 1987 card? 

I'll have to check out Facebook...

Couldn't have done that in the '80s...

7.4.15

Binatone Modern day '80s Style Brick Phone... WOW!

The 1980s of course saw the introduction of the first hand-held cell phone ever, the Motorola DynATAC 8000x, unveiled In America in 1983, on sale in England in 1985. The '80s also saw the beginning and development of the GSM system we use today. What a time it was! 

And now Binatone have designed a wondrous tribute to the original analog '80s bad boy - a modern mobie with a look fresh from the yuppie decade. Here's the blurb: 

Introducing The Brick: the biggest mobile phone you ever had, or the biggest bluetooth handset you will ever have. Retro 1980s cool doesn't come any more iconic than The Brick, a phone as big as the attitude that used to come with it.Phones are getting smarter, thinner, smaller. They all look the same. Battery performance gets worse every year. Is talking on the phone still fun?

 The Brick is simple, bulky, comfy. It will turn heads at every party, and its juice will last for months. Taking inspiration from the early days of mobile phones, The Brick from Binatone was created as the first retro mobile ever. Made famous by Gordon Gekko in 1987's Wall Street and once only affordable to flash city boys, now anyone can afford this fabulous slice of fun nostalgia! The Brick may be amusing but Binatone have still taken it seriously when it comes to getting all the little details right. From the sturdy keys with sound effects to the bling logo on the back, it certainly looks the part.  

The style may look back years but the technology is bang up to date, including the option of either putting your SIM card directly into The Brick or using it to make and take calls from your regular smartphone via Bluetooth. The battery gives you an impressive 14 hours of talk time (and nearly a whole month on standby), while you can use the 1.8 inch colour screen with 128 x 160 resolution to scroll through your contacts or enjoy a nostalgic game of Snake. 

There's even an SD card slot on The Brick, so you can store up to 32 GB (approximately 6,500 songs) of your favourite music on your phone -just be sure to fill it with plenty of Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Prince, a-ha, and Flock of Seagulls for the full 80s effect! Combined with a striking costume or outfit, The Brick is the perfect accessory for any 80s fancy dress party, or if the 80s was your favorite decade then use it every day!  

I don't usually advertise on this blog, but this I couldn't resist! Think I'll be getting me one of these... 

Summertime Andy in Miami Vice gear complete with a brick... mmmmm... 

Click on the 'mobile phones' label below for more info on the brick/GSM revolution in the 1980s...

9.3.15

BANG! How The 1980s Began... Tabloid Snippets From The First Two Years...



1980 - Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please... The anthem of that summer. LOVE IT!!!! Listen to it whilst you're reading through this article - it'll help bring that early 1980s vibe flooding back...

"TWO PINTS OF LAGER AND A PACKET OF CRISPS PLEASE!" we all squawked in the summer of 1980. This was thanks to Splodgenessabounds, of course. 

June 24, 1980:

Britain's most outrageous punk group have rocked into the charts with their first single.

The band, Splodgenessabounds, pour out four letter words, show their bare bottoms and break wind on stage.

Their recording of Simon Templar has reached No. 7 only four weeks after its release.

But it is the B-side - a song called Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Please - which has caught on with the fans.

The group's founder, lead singer Max Splodge, 21, said in London last night: "Before I take my trousers down and moon, I always take a special powder so that I can break wind effectively."

The only person in the eight-strong band without a bare bottom role is girl singer Baby Greensleeves, 22.

Baby, who sometimes takes her dog Two Pints to the group's concerts, said: "I'd moon as well, but it would take too much time because of the gear I wear."

And what was the song about? Some desperate young lad trying to get served in a packed-out pub. Been there so many times. Mind you, if I'd been a barmaid/bloke, I probably wouldn't have served me either.

Max Splodge, Two Pints... writer and singer, spilled the beans about the song years later:

"One night I rushed into The Crown in Chislehurst waving a pound note, trying to buy two pints of lager and a packet of crisps. The bell rang and the bloke wouldn't serve me. The guys in the band were out of their heads on magic mushrooms and thought this was hysterical. The next day I put down a drum track and bass line and just shouted, 'two pints of lager and a packet of crisps...' Mike Reid played it on Radio 1 and it started selling 17,000 copies a day. No one could believe it. It sold a quarter of a million copies and got to No 7."


Cor, the '80s were starting out dead posh, weren't they? 

 Splodgenessabounds' wonderful 1980 anthem on glorious vinyl, tucked away on the B-side with Michael Smith's Talking Bum.



 1981 - England's burning...

Well, of course, we all remember the Style Decade! The glitzy 1980s! Yuppies! Docklands developments! Big Bang! The Credit Boom! Big hair and shoulder pads!

Ho, ho, weren't they up themselves, mateyboots?

Well, actually, one of the things that fascinates me the most about the 1980s is what a turbulent and contrasting decade it was, and nothing speaks louder about that than the good old tabloid newspapers of the era, those we propped up against the Daddy's Sauce bottle as we read and gronffed down our egg and chips early in the decade, or against the bottle of fancy salad dressing as we read and gronffed down our beautifully prepared Nouvelle Cuisine later on.

Let's continue to trawl through some early 1980s tabloid snippets... no yuppies. No mobile phones. Three TV channels and Top of The Pops on Thursday nights...

In my street, none of the school leavers stayed on to sixth form or had the remotest desire to attend university. Oh no, we wanted out of school, and that was the way it had been for us, the lower working classes, the great unwashed, forever. During the 1980s, this would begin to change, but when I left school it certainly wasn't the case. Unemployment had been a problem for years, and with Thatcher focusing on inflation, the number of jobless folk was accelerating through the roof in the early 1980s. But we poor sods had no thought of "staying on" - and it would not have been financially viable for parents round my district anyway.

No yuppies in the early 1980s, no credit boom... riots, royals, CB radio, New Romantics, Space Invaders, and Rubik's Cube were the new trends popping one by one onto the scene.

One writer referred to "The Swinging Sixties And Savage Seventies". As the 1980s got underway, I wondered if they would be remembered as "The Aggro Eighties"? Actually, there was a lot of aggro THROUGHOUT the 1980s, so perhaps it's a worthy title, but so much else happened in that ten years that there are many others!

Anyway, sit back and continue (hopefully) to enjoy this visit to 1980 and 1981, via the Daily Mirror...

1981 - "There's Going To Be A Rumble Tonight"...The riots... in 1980, there was some trouble, centred around racial tensions, a youth leader commented he'd seen it coming for fifteen years or so. In 1981, inner cities burned and shops were plundered as trouble makers, opportunists, political activists and bored youths joined in.

July 9, 1981:

Hours before the latest explosion of mob violence in North London, the word was passed around: "There's going to be arumble tonight!"

The news spread rapidly through local pubs, youth clubs and even school playgrounds.

It resulted in a crowd of around 400 youths converging on Wood Green and turning it into a battlefield of looting and rioting.

Yesterday police, community leaders and shopkeepers - who were robbed of thousands of punds' worth of goods - were in no doubt that the mob was well organised.

More than six hours before the eruption, the Daily Mirror was warned that trouble was about to break out.

A man, who refused to give his name, phoned the Mirror to say: "There will be trouble in Wood Green High Road tonight."

The caller explained that he had overheard a group of youths in a North London pub boasting that they were going to "take on the police".

At about the same time, police themselves heard about the impending violence.

This was revealed yesterday to local police Commander Jim Dickenson.

He said: "It was obviously organised by somebody.

"You don't get hundreds of people massing in one place by coincidence."

Haringey Council leader Robin Young also got a tip-off hours before.

He said: "Undoubtedly it was all pre-arranged. The word went round that there was going to be a rumpus."

Youths in orgy of plunder

Moss Side

Shopkeepers were last night counting the cost of mob violence which exploded in Moss Side, Manchester, early yesterday.

Mobs of youths threw petrol bombs, smashed windows and looted shops, leaving a trail of damage estimated at £300,000.

They stoned fireman who were forced to retreat and watch helplessly as two shops were gutted...

In Liverpool, 25 people - the youngest aged eleven - appeared in court following the Toxteth riots.

They were charged with offences ranging from assaults on police to criminal damage. Most of the adults charged were remanded in custody.

Meanwhile, the BBC was apparently giving instructions on Radio 2 on how to make a Molotov cocktail. Good grief!

Wednesday, July 8, 1981: 

A bomb boob on JY show

The BBC blundered yesterday by broadcasting how to make a petrol bomb.

BBC community relations correspondent John Clare, who has been covering the Liverpool riots, described the ingredients of a Molotov cocktail on Jimmy Young's Radio 2 show.

The BBC received a number of complaints and Jimmy made an apology later in his show.

On the same day, a letter published in the Mirror's Public Opinion section asked an interesting question...

As I lived in Toxteth until about two years ago, the riots there are less of a surprise to me than most. It was obvious that the levels of social deprivation I witnessed could not continue without some reaction sooner or later.

I wonder, though, why riots have only broken out now under a Tory Government.


Ted Heath and the Left Wing Mirror were well and truly on Thatcher's case, and Lady Di caused shock amongst traditionalists as Royal Wedding fever raged...

 Thursday, July 2, 1981:

Lady Diana Spencer will NOT promise to obey Charles when they marry on July 29.

She will pledge herself only to "love him, comfort him, honour and keep him, in sickness and in health" at the ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral.

Her decision after talks with Prince Charles and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, breaks with the tradition followed by Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Anne.

But it delighted women's libbers like Nell Noell of the Women's Rights Movement.

But Lady Di didn't go far enough for Nell, who said: "I hope she will avoid the humiliation of using her husband's name.

"She should stick to name she was born with and not agree to be called Princess Charles."

Flippin' 'eck! The times were changing, however, quite frankly I couldn't have cared less about the Royal Wedding. But what's that at the bottom of the front page? The topless Mary Poppins? Good grief! SURELY NOT?!!!

Eeeek!

Thursday, July 2, 1981:

AT LAST.. this is the moment when sugary British star Julie Andrews loses all her inhibitions and Mary Poppins finally pops out.

Julie plays a fading Mary Poppins-type actress in her new film, SOB, the story of the machinations of the Hollywood film moguls.

She is called on to go topless in a movie to save the studio from going bust.

It's quite a wrench for the poor girl, but finally she is convinced that fans will pack the box offices if she is seen in the bare flesh.

There is another eye-popping scene where she bares her bottom for a quack doctor to inject her with a muscle-relaxant drug so she can pluck up courage to peel off for the cameras.

What did Julie think of her part in the film, directed by husband Blake Edwards? "It gave me quite a kick," she said.

That nice Mary Poppins certainly wouldn't have approved.

I was so shocked, I nearly passed me fags round. 

In other news... Ronald Reagan was elected President of the USA in November 1980. He was shot in 1981, but survived.

Oh well, we'll watch Wimbledon! In 1981, Wimbledon was a bastion of tradition, a far more staid, and in fact downright posh, affair than it is today. The perfect retreat from the stresses of the highly modern early 1980s world.

Oh yeah?!!!!


"You CANNOT be serious!" John McEnroe was making waves as he dragged Wimbledon out of the highly polite "More Tea Vicar?" 1930s and into the brash, "In-Yer-Face" 1980s....

Lady Diana Spencer watched at Wimbledon yesterday as tennis superbrat John McEnroe smashed his way into the final with a volley of abuse.

Lady Diana, a keen tennis fan, was a surprise visitor to Wimbledon. She was given a standard ovation when she arrived in the Royal box.

Then the 14,000-strong crowd watched in amazement as McEnroe made thirteen loud comments to the umpire and shouted obscenities at spectators.

The behaviour on court brought a public warning and penalty point with the possibility of a £5,000 fine.

And twenty minutes after his semi-final victory, over Australia's Rod Frawley, the fiery American was still at it. 

He stormed out of a press conference after calling newsmen "liars" and "trash".

McEnroe's first-set public warning for unsportsmanlike behaviour came when he suddenly bellowed: "I hate umpires. I get screwed by them in this place."

In the final set he lost a penalty point for shouting, "You are a disgrace to mankind."  The umpire took it as an insult, but McEnroe later said he had been talking to himself.

At the press conference McEnroe's first explosion came when he was asked whether the return to New York of his girlfriend, Stacy Margolin, meant they had split up.

The 22-year-old New Yorker shouted: "People like you make me sick. It is none of your business in the first place and the answer is no."

He went on: "You guys are sh*t and trash and I want you to quote me on that."

During McEnroe's outburst Lady Diana's name was mentioned. He suddenly paused and said: "She's a terrific person."

Before sweeping out of the room McEnroe told reporters: "I don't want to waste time on low people like you."

The uproar continued after the star's exit when a fight broke out between two newsmen - a Britain and an American - which sent chairs and microphones flying.

 Phew, feel quite exhausted after this little trip back... Time to go and have a cuppa and a quick play with my ZX 80, I think. More soon...