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Archive for January, 2008

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Worzel Gummidge

Posted by Big Boo on January 21st, 2008

Worzel GummidgeFor many Jon Pertwee will be best remembered for playing Timelord Doctor Who, but given that he handed over to Tom Baker when I was only one year old, I will forever remember him best as the scarecrow that came to life, Worzel Gummidge.

Worzel Gummidge was one of my favourite shows as a kid, and was one of those TV programmes that got the whole family together regardless of their age. Worzel was a scarecrow who was made by The Crowman, a strange old man played by Geoffrey Bayldon of Catweazle fame. The Crowman’s scarecrows were very special as they could come to life, although they were supposed to remain lifeless whenever a human was around.

Worzel’s head was made from a Mangelwurzel (a root vegetable, a bit like a large turnip), although more properly, I should say “heads”. Worzel had a number of different heads he could switch between. A sharp twist removed his normal head, and a different head could then be slotted onto his shoulds. Each of these heads looked slightly different, and gave Worzel different abilities. Most often used was his Thinking Head, which gave him an intelligence boost, but he also had a Counting Head and a Brave Head, amongst others.

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Chinny Reckon

Posted by Big Boo on January 18th, 2008

Chinny Reckon - It’s Jimmy HillHere’s a puzzle for you. Just how do school playground catchphrases spread so quickly, and who invents them in the first place. Looking back it seems strange how suddenly everyone at your school would suddenly latch on to the latest fun thing to say. I’m not talking about catchphrases from TV shows either. No, I’m talking about those weird little sayings that pop up seemingly from nowhere, and for me a great example is the “Chinny Reckon” insult.

What a great insult “Chinny Reckon” was. It’s main use was to let somebody know that you frankly didn’t believe whatever it was they had just said. For example:-

Kid 1: My Dad’s just got a new Ferrari.
Kid 2: Chinny Reckon.

It was most important to get the correct pronunciation, as you had to make it sound as sarcastic as possible, and the best way to do this was to split the word “reckon” into it’s two syllables and say them with as much disdain as you could muster.

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Duran Duran

Posted by Big Boo on January 17th, 2008

Duran DuranDuran Duran were one of the biggest bands of the 1980’s, but have never disbanded and are still recording today. The band had a string of hits including Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like The Wolf and the James Bond theme A View To A Kill, and were initially part of the New Romantic scene, dressing flamboyantly and with crazy big hair styles. They also have the honour of being named Princess Diana’s favourite band!

The band first formed in Birmingham in 1978, the founding members being Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and John Taylor (bass guitar). They were joined by Roger Taylor (drums), Andy Taylor (guitar) and Simon Le Bon (lead vocals). By the way, all those Taylor’s are not related, they all just happen to share a surname by some strange coincidence! As mentioned the band have never broken up, but in the early 1990’s there were some line up changes. Warren Cuccurullo took over guitar and Sterling Campbell the drums, but the original five band members got back together at the beginning of this decade, although Andy Taylor has left once more since then.

The band took their name from the raunchy Jane Fonda film Barbarella, being the name of the villainous Dr. Durand Durand. Maybe this fact had some influence in the decision making for the video for Girls On Film. This song was the third single to be released from the bands first album (also called Duran Duran, released in 1981) and ended up being banned by the BBC for the scenes showing topless girls mud wrestling, amongst other fetishist moments. The song went to number 5 in the UK charts even before the video had been recorded, so at least sales of the record were for the song rather than the video that accompanied it.

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Panini Sticker Albums

Posted by Big Boo on January 16th, 2008

Panini Sticker AlbumsSticker albums may not have been exclusive to the 1980’s, indeed they first appeared in the 1970’s and are still available today, but they’re one of those things that you remember about growing up. Most people probably had a phase during their childhood of finding these things the coolest idea ever, before they realised that actually completing one of the damn things was often near impossible. They were generally made by an Italian company called Panini, although in recent times another company called Merlin has also been getting in on the act.

The premise is simple enough. You buy an album about a particular subject, most of which were either film or cartoon tie-ins or something to do with football. This album is full of numbered rectangles, and in order to populate them you had to buy stickers which came in randomly selected packs of six. Initially all was well, as the entire album was empty so every sticker had a place to go. However, once you were getting on for half way through the collection the number of “doubles” (or “swapsies” as we called them) started to soar. The idea was you could swap the stickers with your mates, but of course this only works if your mates are collecting the same album as you are.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Pop-A-Point Pencils

Posted by Big Boo on January 15th, 2008

Pop-A-Point PencilsThe humble pencil is pretty much a perfect invention, and hasn’t changed a whole lot since it’s invention in the 1500’s. In those days graphite was wrapped in string to stop it breaking, but in the mid 1600’s the first mass produced pencial was created, which encased the graphite in wood, much as we still do today. History lesson out of the way, these days we still basically have only three types of pencil (excepting what’s used as the actual writing material itself). The standard wooden pencil, the propelling pencil, and the Pop-A-Point pencil!

Pop-A-Point pencils were an attempt at making a pencil that was affordable and didn’t require you to carry a pencil sharpener around with you in case the pencil broke. It consists of a plastic tube into which several little plastic sections could be stored. Each of these sections had a pointy piece of graphite embedded in one end, whilst the other end was hollow. The pencil point from one section could be pushed into the hollow end of another section, allowing them to fit snuggly together. Voila! A self sharpening pencil! When your current “point” was finished with, you simply “popped” it out of the pencil, and put it back in the other end, thus pushing the next “point” through to be written with.

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Space Dust Popping Candy

Posted by Big Boo on January 14th, 2008

Space DustThis particular marvel of 80’s confectionary went by many names, but I always remember it as Space Dust. It was a curious looking concoction, being little coloured granules of various sizes from quite literally dust to pieces of a millimetre or so in diameter. It was fruit flavoured but the most important thing about Space Dust was what it did when you put it on your tongue. It would crackle. It would pop. It would make your tongue feel all tingly. Occasionally with a really big pop it might even hurt your mouth a little bit, but that didn’t stop you tipping a load more into your mouth later.

It was a strange sensation having this stuff sitting in your mouth crackling away, but you would sit there with it sat on your tongue until the very last crackle had occured, then you would swallow it down and repeat the process again. Another favourite was to take a swig of fizzy drink just after you had swallowed, as this made the drink froth up inside your mouth as it reacted with whatever small amount of the popping candy was left in your mouth. If you were feeling particularly dangerous you could eat the candy and drink the pop at the same time, which obviously had a much more impressive reaction.

Over the years this sweet seems to appear and disappear from our shops, but it sometimes pops up (no pun intended) in other sweets. I’ve certainly had chocolate bars in the past which have popping candy inside the chocolate. If you want to get some of the original stuff though, then take a look at A Quarter Of who have various different types and flavours available.

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Posted by Big Boo on January 11th, 2008

BullseyeSuper, smashing, great!

Sunday teatimes sat on the sofa munching cheese on toast and slurping fizzy pop have never been the same again since Jim Bowen and Bully disappeared from our screens. Bullseye was one of the most light hearted and fun quiz shows ever made, partly because Jim Bowen was such a super, smashing, great host (although I’m convinced he never actually said that, you just think he did) and partly because of the calibre of the contestants. With no disrespect intended, Bullseye was never going to attract the same contestants that something like Mastermind would, and this meant we had some genuine, real people throwing darts and answering questions, and occasionaly making complete fools of themselves in the process.

As mentioned, Jim Bowen was the host, helped out by Bully, a cartoon bull in a stripy darts shirt, and Tony Green, professional darts scorer. Tony is the guy most famous for shouting out “One huuunnnndred and Eiiiggghhhhtttty!” when the maximum darts score has been achieved at darts tournaments.

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Polystyrene Gliders

Posted by Big Boo on January 10th, 2008

Polystyrene GlidersIf turning a sheet of A4 paper into an aeroplane always left you disappointed because the average paper dart didn’t look particular plane like, then the Polystyrene Glider was the cheap solution to your woes. I remember buying them on my way home from primary school in the corner newsagents. They only cost about ten pence, and came in a little paper envelope with a picture of the plane you had bought on the front.

When you got that little envelope home you’d rip it open to reveal three pieces of shaped polystyrene, a clear plastic nose weight, and a little plastic propellor and peg. The peg held the propellor onto the nose weight, which slotted onto the fuselage section of the model. You then popped out two little strips of polystyrene for the front and back wings to push through – this was always my favourite part of the construction process. Once the wings were in place you were all done, and a light throw sent the plane soaring through the air, propellor whizzing round as it went.

After constructing your little flying marvel, you’d then try to get it to go as far as you could, which meant standing on a chair for extra height, and finding the precise speed at which to launch the plane. Too slow and it would drop to the ground, whilst too fast would cause it to stall, and end up going nose down into the ground.

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