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Archive for December, 2007

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Roughneck Flasks

Posted by Big Boo on December 10th, 2007

Roughneck FlaskI used to take a packed lunch to school, and I remember that Mum used to give me a drink of orange squash in one of those old Thermos vacuum flasks. For some reason these were quite often made with a tartan design printed on them, but I’m pretty sure mine was a solid colour. These flasks kept drinks hot or cold by virtue of the vacuum between the outer flask shell and the inner glass chamber, which had a reflective coating. Unfortunately this made the flasks easy to break, and indeed one day my flask innards were smashed after dropping my school bag.

After going through several replacement plastic bottles which all leaked, we chanced upon a new invention called the Roughneck Flask, whilst we were on a family holiday. It was still made by the Thermos company, but was made entirely out of plastic, and very robust plastic at that. In fact, the weak point in these flasks was the cup that screwed on the top, something which had normally been quite reliable in the old Thermos design.

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Space Lego

Posted by Big Boo on December 7th, 2007

Space LegoThe pictured Space Lego set first went on sale in 1979, and holds special memories for me as it was the first Space Lego kit I owned. Space Lego took the recently improved Lego Town sets into a new dimension with new pieces including the angled flat sections used for space craft wings, the laser guns (as I called them) like on the very front of this model, and of course the great little oxygen cylinders on the backs of the little men.  I loved playing with my Space Lego so much that I ensured it was always kept separate from the rest of my Lego.  I stored all the Space Lego kits I bought in an old Quality Street tin, and would build countless space ships out of it every day.

The little spacemen were initially available in white and red, though yellow ones came out after a few years.  Initially there was a little sticker of the Space Lego logo, a planet with a space ship leaving a trail behind it, that you stuck on the chest of the little men, but after a while this started being printed directly on to the body piece itself.  Whilst there were no sides as such, I always pretended that the white spacemen were the good guys and the red ones the evil guys.  That was the beauty of Lego though.  You were free to make and interpret it all however you wished, as the Lego company never forced any particular story or conceptions on to the kits.

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Sodastream

Posted by Big Boo on December 6th, 2007

SodastreamWhen I was but a child my Mum would only buy us fizzy drinks when there was a special occasion like Christmas or a birthday party. One reason for this was the cost, as fizzy drinks tended to cost a lot more (in relative terms) than they do now, and supermarkets didn’t often have their own brand pop at this time. The other reason was because Mum always said it would blow us up. Of course, I always thought the blowing something up meant a big BOOM and an explosion, so whenever Mum said this I thought it was odd that you would be allowed to drink something that could potentially be explosive. Of course, what she really meant was that it might make us burp a lot…

The introduction of a Sodastream to our household was seen by my sister and myself as a wonderful thing, meaning we now had access to all the Cola, Cherryade and Dandelion and Burdock we could drink. The Sodastream was a big plastic device in which a gas cylinder full of carbon dioxide was inserted. You then filled one of the supplied bottles with water, added some concentrate for the drink you desired, put it in the machine, and pressed the magic fizz button on the top a few times. Voila! When you took the bottle out there was a freshly made fizzy drink just waiting to be slurped through one of the crazy wiggly straws.

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Chas and Dave

Posted by Big Boo on December 5th, 2007

Chas and DaveChas and Dave were one of those fun musical acts that you would struggle to find in the pop charts these days. You really don’t seem to get many comedy songs being popular any more, which I feel is a great shame.

Their musical style was firmly in the Cockney knees-up style, and they had a number of hits during the 1980’s, with Chas Hodges tinkling away at the ivories with gusto and Dave Peacock playing the guitar, and the pair of them singing. It has to be said that they weren’t the tidiest looking of musicians, being just a few steps away from having the label of “tramps” apply, which wasn’t helped by their scruffy looking beards and clothes.

They may have had rather gruff sounding singing voices, but for the songs they sang this was perfect, as many of them told a story of a normal put-upon London bloke. Probably the best known Chas and Dave song is Rabbit, which is sung from the point of view of a man who has a gorgeous girlfriend who never stops talking and nagging him (rabbit being a slang word for incessant talking).

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Play School

Posted by Big Boo on December 4th, 2007

Play SchoolHere’s a House. Here’s a Door. Windows, one, two, three, four. Ready to knock. Turns the Lock. It’s Play School.

Those were the words introducting that great institution of British kids television, Play School. Starting in 1964, it ran until 1988 when it was replaced by Playdays, which was similar in structure, but not half as good.  Still, at least Playdays made more sense than the Teletubbies and other similar creations who no longer speak anything close to proper English, but I digress…

What was so good about Play School was the range of friendly presenters who used to sing, dance and tell stories. Brian Cant, Floella Benjamin, Derek Griffiths, Johnny Ball and Carol Leader were my favourite presenters, and I used to love the way they addressed the camera as though they were talking to you directly.

When I was little I really believed they were talking to me, and was completely suckered in when they would ask a question, I’d answer and they would respond appropriately. When I got a bit older I realised what was going on, so used to spoil it for my younger sister by answering all the questions the wrong way. For example:-

Presenter: Do you like playing football?
Me: No!
Presenter: So do I!

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Advent Calendars

Posted by Big Boo on December 3rd, 2007

Advent CalendarIt’s now the third day of advent, so what did you get in your advent calendar today? If the answer is a picture of a robin, then congratulations! You are the proud owner of a proper traditional advent calendar.

Shame on you if it was a chocolate shaped like a robin! When we were children we had simple cardboard advent calendars, with a glitter encrusted festive scene, and each little door opening to reveal a picture of a present, a Christmas tree, a star or something of that ilk. On December 24th you were treated to a special door that was double the size of all the others, which normally contained a picture of a Nativity scene.

Sometime during the early 1980’s the commercialisation of Christmas began to kick in, and the advent (if you’ll excuse the pun) of the chocolate calendar was upon us. You still got the picture every day, but that picture was also replicated in chocolate. Nowadays, the chocolate calendar has all but surpassed the old cardboard one, making them incredibly difficult to find. Even more depressingly, the chocolate calendars all appear to have the same chocolate contents/picture, with just the outer cardboard sleeve being different. Gone too are the glittery Christmas scenes, replaced instead with a Cyberman, Homer Simpson or the Bratz wearing Santa hats.

Oh well! I’m off to open my door number 3 now, to see what I’ve got (and yes, despite all my moaning, I WILL be getting a chocolate!)