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1.6.21

The Final Pick Of The Pops From 1986 And 1987 - Love Can't Turn Around, Jack Your Body, Animal, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Boy In The Bubble, Get Fresh At The Weekend, Human, Wonderful Life, The Way It Is...

Love Can't Turn Around - Farley Jackmaster Funk with Darryl Pandy on vocals. House music: Year Zero 1983 - the very beginning. 1986 - house music beginning to burst out. This is legendary - the very first house music hit in England.

More House - Jack Your Body - Steve 'Silk' Hurley from 1987 - simply fabulous. Gives me a happy glow even now as I teeter past my mid-fifties... not so bad getting older when you have music like this to bring the memories of youth flooding back.

 1986 and Bruce Hornsby and The Range railing against social injustice - beautifully. The Way It Is.

I'm not really a 'rock' man, but this sublime 1987 hit from Def Leppard pushed my buttons. Somehow rockin' but also dancey... Happy nights.

The wonderful Whitney Houston - with the ultimate feel good pop/dance hit. This was 1987 - and it's as good today as it always was.

Wonderful life - a gorgeous summer hit from 1987. A walk in the sunshine, weighed down by melancholy... Once again, I was having a crisis - the (then) love of my life had just walked out. This song suited me down to the ground.

Boy in the Bubble - Paul Simon, 1986 - from his Graceland album. This song tapped into a feeling I had at the time. There was a sudden onrush of new technology - either things just becoming affordable and widespread - like the VCR and microwave oven - or brand new launches like the mobile phone and the Apple Mac. The world was buzzing - and there were millionaires and billionaires and sophisticated weaponry and lasers in the jungle... Probably.

 It was a vibrant time, but it felt somehow frantic and topsy turvy. A very transient era - rather like my youth. Bright and shiny and fresh with loads of new things happening. But was the sudden onrush of technology going to turn out a good thing? I mean, can you imagine making a phone call while you are walking down the street?

Who was the boy in the bubble? David Vetter, born in 1971, died in 1984, who had to live his life in a highly sterile 'bubble' environment due to severe combined immune deficiency. And the baby with the baboon's heart? Baby Fae born in October 1984. She lived until November.

Get Fresh At The Weekend. Lovely Mel and Kim. I saw these two being interviewed by Andrea Arnold, who played Dawn, on Saturday morning kids' show Number 73 and could have sat down and joined in the chat. Down to earth English girls - cockneys in fact - with a great sense of fun (not like the characters in EastEnders at all!). I really liked them. And the more 1980s music banged and clattered, the more I loved it.


The Human League, Human. When Phil Oakey spotted those two girls dancing at the Crazy Daisy Nightclub in October 1980, a legendary alliance was formed. This song is beautiful - with a great twist at the end.

Coming soon, we trip back to 1985 (the first year of the second half of the 1980s) and 1984 (the last year of the first half of the 1980s) to discover The Man With The Power That Promised You The World...

15.5.21

More Pop Picks from 1987 and 1986... Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent, With Or Without You, I Love To (Listen To Beethoven), Criticize, U Got The Look and Sometimes...

 

Lovely Gwen Guthrie from 1986 with Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent. This is the extended version. Another clattering, clumbering, clanging '80s dance track from the decade's huge stable of brilliance. I adored this. On the surface, it appeared to be a song about a hard-hearted woman looking for a free meal ticket, but watching Gwen on the video made it tremendously likeable to me. Slightly tongue in cheek, I fancy! Sadly, Gwen's no longer with us, but the music - and the happy memories of getting on the dance floor to this - remain.

With Or Without You - U2, 1987. The 1980s were so stuffed full of brilliant music, anything more would have been greedy...

Erasure's breakthrough hit Sometimes from 1986. This is fantabulously wonderful. Vince Clarke was straight and a synth wizard. Having been a founding member of Depeche Mode in 1980, he moved on to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet, and then Erasure with Andy Bell. Andy, gay, outgoing and with a fabulously soaring voice, was the perfect musical partner for Vince. Legends, the pair of 'em.

Gorgeous 80's clattering and clanging soul dance from Alexander O'Neal here. Criticize - oozin' style and big hair video from 1987, and the soundtrack to some fabulous nights out.

Here's the power house of creative talent that was the Eurythmics in 1987. It showcases a bit of Annie Lennox's marvellous acting talent as well as her wonderful voice. Here, we have a discontented English housewife, fancying herself oppressed by her husband, and slowly going crackers as she fantasises about naughty encounters and keeping herself thoroughly in check by not admitting what she REALLY likes - I love to (pause) Listen to (pause) Beethoven. So, she melds together the spoilt child and the masculine within her and goes off on the rampage. Genius. Sadly, Annie is a bit of a Feminist ideologue these days and I can't bear to listen to her one-sided, own-gender-adoring bilge whenever she's interviewed. But back in the 1980s she and Dave Stewart were often simply too brilliant for words.

Ooomph! The mighty Prince meets little Sheena Easton (whose baby took the morning train back in 1980) for a spot of slammin' (oower, missus!) in 1987. U Got The Look. LOVE THIS! 


The fabulous Blow Monkeys - with their very own sophisti-pop sound. To hear this drifting out of an open top car in the yuppie summer of 1986, one might think it was a gorgeously languid and happy song. But the lyrics say otherwise... 

"I just got your message, baby. So sad to see you fade away."

"What in the world is this feeling - catch a breath and leave me reeling." 

"It'll get you in the end it's God's revenge..." (as a vicar had recently said about AIDS). 

Enjoy the music - and listen to those lyrics.

A final visit to the pop charts of 1986 and 1987 will follow soon. I just want to publish this and listen to that music! xxxx

13.5.21

Popping Back To 1986 and 1987 Again... Pump Up The Volume, No More I Love You's, Something Inside So Strong, I Can't Wait And E=MC2...

Wow - 1987 and M/A/R/R/S and Pump Up The Volume. Hugely influential early dance record. And I couldn't get enough. Still thrashing around (although now in my living room) to this brilliance today.

I adored this. Always had an ear for the quirky and the different, not to mention spine tinglingly beautiful... OK, Annie Lennox's cover in the '90s had a far larger cast and her great voice, but the original wins in this case for me, hands down. The Lover Speaks, No More I Love You's, 1986:

'I used to have demons in my room at night. Desire, despair, desire, despair - soooo many monsters...'

House Music had arrived. Year Zero was 1983 and by 1987 it was bursting out. House Nation by Housemaster Boyz and the Rude Boy of House. This sounded so different that at first I hated it. But after my second listen I was hooked. Had it on a compilation cassette and just kept rewinding and replaying it on my personal stereo. Then it was out in the clubs... 


Labi Siffre - 1987 - Something Inside So Strong... Just listen. Enough said. A beautiful and highly meaningful 1980s classic.

 
China in Your Hand - 1987. Wow. Carol Decker's voice is incredible, and watch the sad tale of a yuppie woman who falls in with a bad lad... There are power ballads and then there's this. In a class of its own.

Echoing across the summer of 1986, clonky, clanky and with that all-important '80s stutter. Nu Shooz. I Can't Wait. Dance at its best.

One of the best chart tracks of 1986 - with lyrics which bent my mind into many strange shapes. And made me dance. 'Blood lust, Greek god, go Discovery...' Big Audio Dynamite - E=MC2.

We'll be back in 1986 and 1987 for some more pop picks very soon. I just can't leave that decade alone...

2.5.21

Some Prime Choons From 1986 and 1987... Luka, Making Lots of Money, Corrosion, Boops and Rumours...

Continuing our backwards countdown of some of our ultimate favourite 1980s pop tracks. Incredibly hard to select - so much must be left out!

Anyway, to 1987 and Suzanne Vega's sad and stirring song about child abuse - Luka

He lived upstairs from you. 

They only hit until you cry - after that you don't ask why.

A wonderful and moving song. Sadly as relevant today as it was back then.

1987 - Boops - he thinks he's got class, they think he's an ass...

You gotta get here to go...

Boops, my man, listen to the mighty Sly and Robbie.

This was - and is - incredible.

This Corrosion - The Sisters of Mercy from 1987. Rock/dance with a goth atmosphere and a background cast of what appeared to me at the time as New Romantics gone mouldy...

On days like this, in times like these, I feel an animal deep inside...


The Pet Shop Boys tend to be underappreciated - and they were certainly self deprecating - but they did a great deal to advance dance music in the 1980s. In 1986, my neon socks were blown off by this great thrashing, clanging beast of a song, which drew me immediately on to the dance floor every time it was played. This was the era of the remix, and this is the one that was closest to the UK single release - and it's from Top of the Pops.

Opportunities - Lets Make Lots Of Money has become a bit of a 1980s anthem. Can't think why...


The Timex Social Club - Rumors - from 1986. I loved this song so much I bought the twelve inch version - and it was even better! Listen to this and then seek it out. Fabulous. 


The incredible New Order. Substance 1987 is rarely far from my ears. Brilliant song. Brilliant video

I used to think that the day would never come when my life would depend on the morning sun...

We'll delve back into 1987 and 1986 again soon, as we became a H-H-H-H-House Nation... Jack it up out there!

14.4.21

A Few More Prime Choons From 1988 and 1989... Standing In A Buffalo Stance - Finding Voodoo Ray And A Tower Of Strength - And Not Scared At All...

 

I was going to leave 1988 and 1989 and make my way back to 1987 and 1986, but then I realised there were several top choons I couldn't leave out of my absolute 88/89 faves round-up. Sorry. Please indulge me.

First is the mighty Neneh Cherry, doing her (then) trendy Buffalo Stance in 1988. Fabulous. I wasn't too keen on the Manchild follow-up - I can't bear womansplaining - but the Stance was the biz.

It's so good it can't be left out. Under any circumstances.

In '89, Betty Boo and the Beatmasters couldn't dance to that music many middle of the road radio stations were pumping out. Don't blame them. Go, Betty! Love the revolting 1982 phone in the vid. By 1989, we had better taste (ahem).

Next the ice cool Eighth Wonder with the Pet Shop Boys-penned I'm Not Scared, again from 1988. Haunting, electronic, sinister, beautiful. As a little girl, of course, Patsy Kensit had been the 'Fresh As The Moment When The Pod Went Pop' girl. She'd come a long way.

'88 again: The Mission - Tower of Strength. 'It would tear me apart. To feel no one ever cared. For MEEEE'. 'Nuff said. Got 'em here on Top of the Pops.

Down on the dance floor for Inner City and Good Life. Left or right? Yuppie or protester? C'mon, after the long lean years, didn't most of us fancy a bit of the good life in the 1980s?

Yazz and the Plastic Population - The Only Way Is Up. An anthem from '88 I'll never forget. 

A Guy Called Gerald and the legend that is Voodoo Ray. Need I say more? Acid House at its best. Excuse me, I wanna move...

Next up are 1987 and 1986 - where we meet Boops (with his arms open wide) and discover that New York looks like an apple core... Stay chooned.


11.4.21

Chugging Out Some More Choons From 1988 And 1989... Felly Had Blue Lipstick - But Wasn't Singing... And We Were Pumping Up The Jam, Being Pure, Singing About History, Thrashing Around To Accieed and Getting Back To Life...

 

Felly of Technotronic - her with the blue lipstick on the original album cover. She didn't wanna place to stay, but you could get your booty on the floor tonight and make her day. However, it wasn't really Felly singing. No, Ya Kid K was the one! This was all over the charts and the dancefloors in September/October 1989. I bought the Technotronic album, which contained this and their next few hits towards the end of the year, and was bowled over.

And I still love Felly's lipstick.

And Ya Kid K, of course.

ACCEEED! Love this. The Acid House  scene of 1988 really rattled the establishment and that's never a bad thing, and this vid and song always do my head in. Especially the bit where the bloke's head judders about.

RIGHT ON ONE, MATEY!

This 1988 hit by Breathe is one of my favourite love songs. And the video's so yuppie, but with a splash of delicious working class humour at the end. Gorgeous.

Back To Life... the mighty Soul II Soul in 1989. So beautiful and classic and wonderful and innovative and downright marvellous I actually passed my ciggies around.

1989 - and I was gobsmacked by the transformation of Siobhan Fahey - from Bananarama chorus girl to purring sophisti-cat. This is stunning - Shakespear's Sister, History.

Pure, the Lightening Seeds. One of my themes to the summer of 1989. Released on 8 July, it spent ten weeks on the chart. I was, of course, romantically involved - and this is terribly evocative. Ah, those golden days in Saffron Walden!

We'll carry on our trawl of (just) some 1980s pop brilliance soon. We've started with 1989 and 1988 and next we'll take a peek at 1987 and 1986. We're heading all the way back to 1980 in time. Keep it chooned.

27.2.21

Chugging Out Some 1980s Choons... E-Zee Possee, Desireless, Erasure, Kim Wilde...

 

Love 1980s music. I adore it. Everything from Kelly Marie's It Feels Like I'm In Love in 1980 to these choice tunes from 1988 and 1989. E-Zee Possee... wow. What planet? Planet Ecstasy of course!


Voyage Voyage... Desireless. Beautiful, electronic, haunting... wandering around in '88 listening to this on my personal stereo after a broken romance, gazing at the moon...


The mighty Erasure, Ship of Fools from 1988. Beautiful, loaded with melancholy and, although the song is as '80s as could be, the title fits the situation in 2020/2021 like a tailor-made glove. You do sail on the ship of fools, my friends... but Klaus Schwab, Matt Hancock, Anthony Fauci and the World Economic Forum will take care of you... Just keep watching the telly...


And from 1988 again - gorgeous Kim Wilde and You Came... happy days... Got a sniffle? Blow your nose and get on with your life! xx

12.2.21

1981 At Forty - Part 1: Charles and Di

                

Fed up with the virus scenario? We now live in a world that is very odd indeed. A world in which families are breaking apart as 'covid deniers' argue fiercely with 'covid believers'. A world in which civil liberties vanish like spit on a griddle and the public applauds. But whether you think it's all in good spirit, the facts are totally transparent and anything else is a rancid conspiracy theory, or you believe the figures don't add up and the 'Great Reset' and Big Pharma are far greater threats, we offer you an escape. Yep, an escape to 1981.

I can't promise that 2021 won't infiltrate slightly, but most of this blog post is pure 1981 - in the immortal words of Big Audio Dynamite a few years later: 'Time slide, place to hide...'

We can hardly believe 1981 is now forty years ago. In the pre-mobile phone, pre-yuppie boom 1980s, where computers were slow and odd and strictly for professors and geeks, what were we into?

Well, amongst other things... Rubik's Cube, CB radio (so exciting as less than 50% of UK households had a landline phone and the mobile was still a few years down the road), Space Invaders, the Space Shuttle, riots, Adam and the Ants, Duran Duran and...

Charles and Di.

Goodness, the quiet, posh girl who'd soared into the spotlight in 1980, was apparently about to have a fairy tale ending - and marry her prince.

It all turned out quite differently and very sadly, of course.

Mugs, tea towels, dolls, even a Rubik's Cube - the hottest craze of the year. Charles and Di were everywhere in 1981.


Slow start for the Cube... the trademark was registered in the UK on 7 May 1980 but, due to a huge shortage, the first Cubes did not start arriving until just before Christmas. In the spring of 1981, we were fully stocked and the craze raged. And, like so many other things, the Cube commemorated the royal wedding in July.

The Sunday Times magazine review of 1981 - featuring royals and Rubik's.

I've never been a royalist, so I was unimpressed by the Royal Wedding mania. In my family, the view was that the Royal Family 'lived off the fat of the land' and was an anachronism. 

I was not initially impressed by Lady Diana Spencer, either. The media dubbed her 'Shy Di', but I thought the way her eyes slid away was far more likely to be evidence of slyness. However, I think she proved me wrong. Diana was refreshingly human, as it turned out - in my humble opinion, of course. She was warm, concerned, and very much a people person.

And Charles? Well, in 2021, as he and his millionaire pals at the World Economic Forum pursue their Great Reset, using the fear-inducing green mask of Climate Change and the bizarre virus scenario, with the willing complicity of fawning politicians and thoroughly bent Big Pharma, I have never felt quite so much contempt for a royal.

But, in 1981, the Royal Wedding thrilled many. The news was full of it, and no angle was left unexplored as the public clamoured for more.

True Romances magazine plotted the future of the couple, via the wondrous world of astrology. It makes for quite sad reading now, but at the time many believed that the royal marriage was the start of a glittering new era for the family.

Having taken into account planetary placements and aspects on their respective birth charts, and the fact that both Charles and Diana had Leo ascendants, astrologer Peter Vidal wrote:

ARE CHARLES AND DIANA IN AFFINITY? WILL LADY DIANA FIT IN WITH THE ROYALS AND BE HAPPY? WILL IT BE A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE? WILL CHARLES AND DIANA MAKE GOOD PARENTS?

How will the marriage work out? Charles and Diana are well-matched, and are a handsome couple with the world at their feet. Factors occurring in both horoscopes will make for happiness and contentment. Charles will gain noticeably in poise and confidence; Diana will be radiant.

The Royal Wedding was a day of great optimism for all admirers of the Royal family. And readers of True Romances thrilled to Peter Vidal's rosy predications.

But even astrologers can't always be right. Not even the fact that Charles and Diana were both sun water signs - she Cancer, he Scorpio, could make things right.

Well I never!

We return to the buzzing world of 1981 soon - all together now: 'Qua qua, fa diddily qua qua...'



16.12.20

Merry Christmas!




Here's a Christmas card I received in 1988 - with our old feline pal Garfield offering some excellent seasonal advice. We wish you all the best for Christmas (remember, more is more!) and for 2021 (Hmmm... bizarre times indeed!). 

'80s Actual will be back after a bit of seasonal excess. xxxxx

14.11.20

Terry And June

It's 1980, series two of "Terry & June", and the Medfords are worried about the household budget. Has the electricity board over charged them by 12p on the latest bill? Or is Terry pressing the wrong buttons on the calculator?

Terry's nephew offers a money saving solution - access to the local cash and carry. But Terry accidently gets carried away...

In the 1960s, some sitcoms were rather gritty.

Think Steptoe & Son.

And socially aware.

Think ranting bigot Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part.

And saucy.

Think On The Buses.

But the suburban sitcom also thrived.

Think Marriage Lines.

In the 1970s, the saucy themes continued.

Think Man About The House.

As did the socially relevant stuff.

Think Mixed Blessings - I couldn't bear it, but it meant well.

Farce came back.

Think of the sublime Fawlty Towers.

But the good old suburban sitcom survived.

Think Rings On Their Fingers and Happy Ever After - both BBC productions.

The last mentioned series starred Terry Scott and June Whitfield as middle class, middle aged English couple Terry and June Fletcher. They had two grown-up daughters (if memory serves me right) and a funny old Aunt Lucy, who had a mynah bird. Aunt Lucy was very dithery and a bit of a pain in the neck to Terry.

After a behind-the-scenes legal wrangle, Happy Ever After ended, to be replaced, in October 1979, by a new series called Terry & June. The principle characters, played of course by Terry Scott and June Whitfield, were now called Terry and June Medford and they were minus Aunt Lucy, the mynah bird and the daughters.

This Terry and June had one married daughter, who turned up occasionally, and they were also sometimes visited by Terry's daft nephew, Alan.

Apart from this, Terry & June was very like Happy Ever After, although the mechanics of the show were somewhat altered by the absence of Aunt Lucy and the mynah bird!

Personally, I missed Aunt Lucy at first, but this new series caught light for me in 1980, after a tentative start in 1979. The playing of Terry Scott and June Whitfield, who had first worked together in the late 1960s, was always superb. The characters complemented each other perfectly: Terry bumptious and silly, June calm and common-sensical, often getting dragged into ridiculous situations entirely against her better judgement.

The Medfords' social circle included Terry's colleague, the oily and lecherous Malcolm, his long suffering wife, Beattie, snobbish neighbours Tarquin and Melinda Spry, and Austin, the local vicar. Terry's boss was played by the inimitable Reginald Marsh - also well known as Dave Smith, the Coronation Street bookie, "Sir" in The Good Life, and Reg Lamont in Crossroads.

Terry & June was attacked for being middle class and irrelevant in the alternative comedy era of the 1980s, this was a decade of radical change in TV comedy, but it was also the decade of choice, and there was something for everyone. There was definitely a place for Terry & June in the TV schedules - the show performed much better in the ratings than anything "alternative".

Still, as a trendy young geezer, whilst I was proud to declare my love of The Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents in 1982, my Terry & June habit was a sinful secret. And yet I would become totally engrossed in each episode, emerging from the experience feeling oddly refreshed. Terry & June was a great break from my woes of the moment - the lightweight suburban mayhem chez Medford was a joy to behold.

I loved the way that trends of the 1980s were sometimes featured in the programme - such as the CB radio craze. CB was legalised here in November 1981, and 1982 saw a brief but intense craze flare up. Terry joined in, of course, and ended up trapped in his car in the back of a lorry...

The then very new fangled satellite TV (pre-1989 Sky launch) cropped up in one story line in 1985, as did the very new and exciting first ever handheld mobile phone - the Motorola Dynatac 8000x in the 1987 episode Mole, and there was, of course, an episode dedicated to the complicated new world of video recorders. Remember, only 5% of UK households had videos in 1980. This was the decade when the vast majority of us got to grips with them. The Medfords were actually quite a trendy and 'up for it' middle aged 1980s couple - although Terry did throw a strop over Trivial Pursuit!

Despite all the alternative comedy, the suburban sitcom was still alive and well in the 1980s - with Terry & June being kept company by No Place Like Home and Fresh Fields.

The Medfords finally bowed out in August 1987, and Terry Scott has since died.

I have recently seen some episodes of Terry & June on DVD and I must say I enjoyed the shows just as much the second time round.

Classic 1980s comedy. Not alternative. Not socially relevant. Just funny. And more true to life. After all, how many people lived in a decrepit flat, with left-over chopped vegetables chatting to each other on the draining board? And how many middle class couples were there out there bearing some resemblance to Terry and June?

7.9.20

Falcon Crest

Fabulous Jane Wyman donned a grey wig for the Vintage Years - the pilot of Falcon Crest - in 1981, but got rid of it for the series.

It always sounds really snobbish when you name something you like that is mass popular, and the person you are speaking to says: 'Oh, really? I prefer...' - and names something obscure.

But I'm afraid that's genuinely how I am about the big 1980s-era American soaps. Dallas? Nope. Dynasty? Nope. Knots Landing? Nope.

I'm a dedicated Falcon Crest man.

Now, in England, Falcon Crest, or 'Falky' as I fondly nicknamed it, was often broadcast on ITV regional stations in grotty afternoon slots, or at Sunday teatime - sometime naff. But, as a shift worker, I managed to sink a basinful of it and loved it.

I suppose it all began with an idea for a series pilot possibly set in America and France, or a series pilot called The Barclays, about an American urban family moving from New York to small town Kentucky or...

Series creator Earl Hamner jr, who had given us that loving 1930s family The Waltons (Spencer's Mountain with plenty of tears but without the grit), was just finishing work on that series when the idea for a try-out pilot came his way, and it took a lot of thinking out.

Filming of a drama called The Vintage Years took place in the spring of 1981. This was the pilot for what would become Falcon Crest and featured some of the ingredients - including the location, the Spring Mountain Winery in California's Napa Valley, which would be the location for Falcon Crest.

It also featured Jane Wyman as Angela Channing, the leading Mrs Nasty of Falcon Crest, in a grey wig - which Miss Wyman hated!

It was a tale of vineyards and a family divided, very much as the series would be, but it wasn't the finished product by any means.

As it was never screened, I never saw it - but I believe it's now available online.

Changes were made to cast and characters - and Jane Wyman pushed for changes to Angela.

'She's very much a 1981 kind of lady,' she said just before Falky's American debut in December 1981.

My goodness, she was. English TV critic Hilary Kingsley described her in 1988 as 'rotten to the pips', but there was more to Angela than that. Her main problem, as her daughter Emma pointed out, was that she loved the land more than she loved her family. And was prepared to use any trick in the book to keep it.


Angela's role as Queen Bee of the fictional Tuscany Valley took a severe knock when her nephew, Chase Gioberti, arrived in the early 1980s to claim his inheritance. Don't worry. She was up to the fight.

Had Miss Wyman been cast because of her ex-husband, Ronald Reagan's, recent elevation (in November 1980) to US President?  Jane Wyman said she had not. Rumours were later circulated that she had been offered a role in a future Earl Hamner production before the pilot was even in the pre-production planning stages (highly unlikely) and that she had banned mention of Ronald Reagan on the Falcon Crest set!

It all added to the interest - and Jane Wyman was quite capable of holding the viewer's interest long after the fascination of seeing Ronnie's ex-wife had faded.

What really attracted me to the show was its delicious sense of humour.

Hapless greedy and lustful Melissa Agretti telling her 'loving' husband Lance Cumson: 'Your whole family's weird. Your mother murdered my father...' for instance.

The characters actually stood back at times and saw the absurdity of the soapy plots.

It could be very droll - as Melissa said to Angela:

'Don't worry, Angela, I'll still be available for family occasions - weddings, funerals, and, of course, the occasional shooting.'


Ana Alicia was fabulous as 'that fiesty Melissa Agretti' - as Angela once called her.

It had all the prime time soap ingredients, of course, but I also thought it had more atmosphere and depth.

Angela's daughters, Emma and Julia, for instance - driven mad over a period of many years by their oppressive mother - and this madness manifesting itself in quite different ways. 

One of the scenes which cemented the series in my affections was at the end of season one, in 1982. Angela, having been worsted in battle by her nephew Chase, smiled and said: 'He thinks he's won!' The smile was radiant - full of enjoyment at the thought of proving him wrong, and quite bereft of any malice. No JR crocodile grin there. Angela was simply delighted at the thought of future ferocities. And I was entranced.

Falky was enthralling - plane crashes, vicious business cartels, long lost relatives, earthquakes, shootings, fires, Nazis... it had the lot - and more!

Great cast, too. There were rumours of backstage hostilities. When veteran film actress Lana Turner appeared in one season, Jane Wyman reportedly refused to act with her - and some scenes had to be recorded separately. Finally, Miss Wyman was reported to have said that either she remained in the series, or Miss Turner - not both.

Lana Turner's character was killed off in a shooting at the Falcon Crest mansion.

As for the behind the scenes revelations - rumour or truth? The speculation all added to the fun of watching the series - and it was an immensely enjoyable series, made with great skill and gusto.


In 1981, the cast of Falcon Crest appeared to be quite dowdy, but, as the 1980s took wing, power dressing and glitz became the norm. Here's some of the regulars, circa 1987. The man in the middle is Lorenzo Lamas, Angela's grandson, Lance Cumson. He never quite outwitted his 'loving' granny.

I will never forget Jane Wyman as Angela, Margaret Ladd as her delightfully dotty daughter Emma, Abby Dalton as her other daughter - the driven-over-the-edge Julia Cumson, Chao Li Chi as Cha Li - the wise butler at the Falcon Crest mansion, David Selby as Richard Channing - the milk-drinking business mogul, Susan Sullivan as lovely Maggie Gioberti - persecuted in-law of Angela, Robert Foxworth as Chase Gioberti, Maggie's husband and Angela's goodly nephew, and Lorenzo Lamas and Ana Alicia as Lance and Melissa Cumson - wow, that couple had sparks!

Required viewing at the time - and on DVD now. It lifts any free afternoon way out of the mundane.

2.9.20

Mel and Kim

Fun, love, money and hair. The 1980s loved them all. And the sparkling new hair products, mousse, gel and extensions. Kim recalls that Mel washed her extended hairdo and phoned her with an urgent warning: 'Kim! Don't wash it! It goes like a mattress!'

Mel and Kim Appleby were two young English sisters - cockneys to be precise. They scaled the heights of pop stardom in the late 1980s and we loved them. They were celebrated not just for their talent but for being two English black women (or women of colour or whatever the current politically correct saying is) who'd scaled those heights, but I'd long ago learned that English was not a colour, and I was simply bowled over by their music, dance moves and sparkling sense of fun.

I remember seeing them being interviewed by Andrea Arnold (Dawn of kids' show No 73) and they were so natural, down-to-earth and downright likeable I could have grabbed a mug of tea and joined them for a natter without feeling even remotely star-struck - not like when I met Percy Sugden from Coronation Street and was absolutely gobsmacked.

Mel and Kim made it big as part of the Stock/Aitken/Waterman starburst, although Mel was already a model.

The news that Mel had cancer was stunning. I associated the sisters with fun and dance and wonderful nights out, me splashing on the latest swanky aftershave, dolloping on mousse or hair gel, and my latest Miami Vice inspired finery.

And not tragedy.

The meeting of the two extremes seemed incomprehensible to me at the time. I struggled to get my head round it.

Now I still listen to their music at times, and dance and smile and remember the good times, but not without more than a hint of sadness. 

And I say...

God bless, Mel - and all the best, Kim. Thanks for providing the soundtrack to some lovely times. x

22.6.20

The 1980s - What Did We Do Before Fact Checkers, The World Wide Web, Wikipedia, etc, etc.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. When it celebrated 30 years in 2019, I began to take a look at what it had become.


Looking back at the 1980s is to peer into a different world. The computer revolution was beginning, but the World Wide Web wasn't even invented until 1989, and not up and running until the early '90s, so what did we do in place of the things so many modern day 'clever' folk take for granted?

Well...

Let's begin...

Wow, Christmas 1982 - and if you were terribly posh and a complete nerd you might have had a Christmas like this. But it's not likely.

Fact Checkers - they check the facts so you don't have to. They back their own viewpoints and often the Establishment, pouring ridicule on anything outside of that. Say anything outside of the narrative? You're a conspiracy theorist - and all right-minded folk must shun you. You're 'far right' and, no doubt, your bum smells. Your accuser's, of course, does not.

In the 1980s: You formed your own opinions. You read various things. You might have been absolutely hidebound in your opinions, but many people were less comfortable, more investigative, more opinionated. In the main, we didn't want people to tell us what to think. We wanted to find out for ourselves. And we didn't just trust governments or organisations like the UN - which is a lot of the problem now. People can read absolutely irrefutable facts, but there seems to be some sort of cognitive dissonance in applying them when 'experts' say something else. The official narrative has to be adhered to.

Rating (in my opinion): 1980s: 10, 21st Century: 0.


Usenet began in 1980 as a tiny concern for university geeks and professors. It can't really be called a forerunner to the Web, but it did have newsgroups which exchanged fascinating information. Read the above. See what I mean? Most of the world was blissfully unaware. We took a look here.

Wikipedia: What an odd idea! Anybody can write anything? But editors are on hand to correct false information? Um, usually only if it fits their own agenda. A lot of Wikipedia is unreadable. The SJWs rule it and it's propaganda writ large. And 1980s = BAD! Very bad! It's rather like a schoolkid's effort at an encyclopedia. 

Now, I know the arguments: 'Oh, yes, but Wikipedia contains links to dependable information!' Does it? Not in a lot of my experiences with the site it doesn't! It cherry-picks and blocks dissenting voices and there is nothing balanced about it when it comes to issues like Feminism at all. In fact, the article on Feminism is like a brain washing lesson in the ideology. And, guess what? Google and the like include a little panel on searches with Wikipedia articles linked! So, many people will be innocently drawn to the site. BONKERS!

Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia at all. And the lame brained-ness of people who use it at all is one of the most worrying early 21st Century online trends - in my opinion.

In the 1980s: People read things in encyclopedias, and read other books. People agreed or disagreed with the authors. People asked questions. People didn't tell other people to 'stand away from their rage totems' if they disliked their discussion of misandry or whatever. People discussed, they argued, they sometimes had a punch-up. But they didn't face a bunch of sheeple bleating at them and blocking them, sheeple fully convinced of their own goodness, and making sure other views don't get a hearing, whilst theirs - often highly flawed and even bigoted - do, and become the narrative.

Rating: 1980s: 10, 21st Century: 0.

I'll return to this theme at some point, 'cos it's dead interesting, don't you think? No? Oh well, we're glad you have your own views on the subject!

See you soon. xxx

6.6.20

The McVitie's Hobnob Biscuit - 1985 - 2020 - 35th Anniversary

From the McVitie's website - the launch of the mighty Hobnob biscuit in 1985 was quickly followed by others, like the chocolate variety, launched in 1987. Rolled oats and crunch and - YUM!

Just a quick shout-out to one of the very best biscuits of all time - and one, of course, launched in the 1980s - the McVitie's Hobnob. No biscuit since the Jaffa Cake (all right that's a cake, I know!) have ever made such a big splash with me. I loved 'em from the first - dunking 'em wildly in my tea and getting through a whole packet per mug, and I still love 'em to this day.

I particularly liked them for night shifts when I was working at the local psychiatric hospital - they were very fortifying and cheering on my tea break.

The Hobnob was launched in 1985, and the '85 original TV advert contained the slogan 'One Nibble and You're Nobbled'. Beautiful.

Oatey and crunchie and mind-numblingly beautiful when dunked in a cuppa, I can still scoff my way through loads. A true quality product. 

Very like the 1980s themselves, of course (ahem).

Of course, I'm against advertising here, but you must give some products their due.

And if McVitie's would care to slip me some Hobnobs as a thank you, I won't say no.

Just remember, 'More Is More' - as we used to say back in the day!

Read some McVitie's history, including the launch of the Hobnob, here:

https://mcvities.co.uk/about


7.5.20

Rubik's Cube, 7 May 1980 - An Important Anniversary...

I'm writing and posting this article on the seventh of May 2020, and it is a very important anniversary. On this day, the 'Rubik's Cube' trademark was registered in the UK back in 1980. Not that we were suddenly flooded with Cubes - no, there was a shortage and that is the reason 1981 was The Year of the Cube rather than 1980, but it's still an important date.

Although they were in very short supply when they started arriving here, just before Christmas 1980, the British Association of Toy Retailers noted the interest shown and declared it 'Toy of the Year'. As the craze raged after we were fully stocked in the spring of 1981, the association named it 'Toy of the Year' for 1981 too!

The Rubik's Cube made it on to the front cover of the Sunday Times Magazine's review of 1981 - and is listed just below the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. A special Cube depicting the union flag and the faces of the Royal couple, was produced to commemorate the occasion in July 1981.


The Cube was such a craze - it made a legend of its creator, Erno Rubik of Hungary, and saturated popular culture from late 1980 to 1982.

From the invention of the Magic Cube prototype in 1974, to a change of name and mass manufacture to Western World safety and packaging specifications in 1980, seems a short leap. Many inventions take much longer to come to prominence. But the world was very different back then. Hungary was very much 'Behind The Iron Curtain' - and the Cube's penetration of that Curtain was very noteworthy indeed - particularly in such a short amount of time. When you consider that the first test batches of the Magic Cube were not even released in Hungary until late 1977, its progress to the West seems even more remarkable.

When the remanufactured and renamed Rubik's Cube burst upon the world in 1980, curtesy of Ideal Toys, it was a huge hit. Perhaps its launch at the start of the new decade helped with that - new decades are eager for new fads - but the Cube was entrancing in its own right. It was aesthetically pleasing, bright primary colours with black edgings, it looked like a child's toy - surely easy to complete? (HUH!) - and it took over many lives.

Daily Mirror, 12 August, 1981: The craze was raging. Cube mania was rampant!

Ours sat on the sofa and we twirled it whilst watching the telly. We couldn't leave it alone!

Now it's as much a part of early 1980s memories as Duran Duran, synth pop, hair gel and the ZX Spectrum.

In fact, it has become an icon of the entire decade.

Happy anniversary, Rubik's Cube! Read all our Cube data by clicking on the 'Rubik's Cube' label below.

7.4.20

Some 1980s Vibes: When Corona Was Fizzy Drinks, Frankie Wanted To Arm The Unemployed And West End Girls Prowled...

'West End Girl' - a 1987 poster by Athena. The spiky-haired foxtress has obviously been surprised on the fire escape. Wonder what she's been up to? Eurythmics's Annie Lennox, in the guise of her horrid middle class housewife in the 1987 'Beethoven (I love to listen to)' video, would no doubt, have been fascinated!

So, the 1980s.

BOOM! BANG! KER-BLAM! Love Thatcher/Reagan? Hate Thatcher/Reagan? Wanna be a yuppie? Wanna join Red Wedge and tear down the whole capitalist system? Wanna eat Nouvelle Cuisine? Wanna eat bubble and squeak portions from Bejam? Love the brand new House Music sensation? Prefer the brand new indie sensation that was The Smiths? Love to power dress? Love to wear deelyboppers and jelly shoes?

The 1980s seemed full to bursting with contrasting thingies. And now it all looks like a different planet. How things have changed! Take Covid-19. Back in the 1980s if you mentioned 'Corona' in England and Wales, a range of fizzy drinks immediately sprang to the forefront of most minds - not lockdowns and social distancing.

This Corona bottle dates from 1982, as indicated by the date on the promotional blurb on the back of the label. The label features the little bubbly thingie from the early 1980s 'Every bubble's passed its fizzical' TV ad, which was then current.


Environmentally friendly? 'Course we were - 10p deposit charged on the bottle. My favourite Corona drinks were orangeade and cherryade. Every Christmas we used to order a crate of assorted Corona drinks from the milkman.


Daily Mirror, 27 February, 1985:

Frankie goes to Downing Street

Leading pop stars have signed a "celebrity petition" to be handed in at 10 Downing Street tomorrow. It opposes Government plans to axe supplementary benefit for school leavers if they do not take part in the Youth Training Scheme. Holly Johnson and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Paul Weller, Madness, Smiley Culture, the Flying Pickets and Alison Moyet are among the entertainers whose names will be handed in. The Downing Street visit is part of a national rally and lobby of Parliament organised by the Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign.

The Youth Opportunities scheme had been introduced by the Callaghan Labour Government in 1978, in response to rapidly rising youth unemployment. A YOP provided work experience only, although in 1982 a training element was added. In 1983, it was replaced by the Youth Training Scheme (YTS), which, as the scheme's name suggests, was centred around training for skills.

So, what was the beef with school leavers having to go on a YTS scheme to qualify for Government money? Did they not want training? Well, looking back, the reasons I heard bandied about were that the Government was simply using the scheme to make the unemployment figures look smaller, and that minimum age school leavers had a right to expect a proper job.

This interested me as, as far back as the mid-1970s, the fact that graduates with degrees were finding it impossible to find work was being widely reported.

But in the 1980s, any initiative on the part of the Thatcher Governments was seen by many of us as a plot to do us down. Her first government's concentration on inflation rather than unemployment early in the decade had cast her out forever as far as I was concerned.

And, although I had a job and was completely unaffected, I still ranted my disapproval.

Maggie Thatcher would probably have dearly loved to give Frankie a spanky in the mid-1980s.