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Archive for February, 2008

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Doctor Snuggles

Posted by Big Boo on February 19th, 2008

Cartoon character Doctor SnugglesDoctor Snuggles started off as a character in children’s books created by Jeffrey O’Kelly which appeared in the early 1970’s. I must admit to never having read or even seen the books before, but I do remember the TV cartoon series of his adventures. It used to be shown on Children’s ITV in serialised five minute chunks, in much the same way that Dangermouse was originally shown, with a new segment shown each day.

Doctor Snuggles was a balding, chubby inventor with a heart of gold, who made creations of a wonderful kind in his garden shed. He was aided by a number of animal friends, including Dennis the Badger and Nobby the Mouse, and also by the robot he created who went by the name of Mathilda Junkbottom. The garden shed itself was also a character in the show, going by the name of Rickety Rick, and was an unusual shed because it had arms and legs and could move around.

Doctor Snuggles also got around by bouncing around on his umbrella with the ducks head handle (which talked of course), as it converted into a pogo stick. For greater distances he would turn to his homemade rocket ship, which looked like it was made out of a wooden barrel and was called the Dreamy Boom Boom.

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Girl’s World

Posted by Big Boo on February 18th, 2008

Girl’s WorldGirl’s World was a toy that allowed young girls to practice their hair styles and make-up techniques without having to do it on themselves, their friends, or their unwilling siblings. The toy consisted of a fairly scale model of a female human head with long hair, and was available in both blonde and brunette versions. It came with a number of accessories including curlers, hairbrush and some toy lipstick and eye shadow in a few different colours. The happy young beauty technician could then give the head a make over, and if they didn’t like it, wipe it clean and start again.

The pictured Girl’s World is the classic example, but there were also some improvements made over the years. I remember the one my sister had a length of hair which could be pulled out the top of the head and rolled back in again to create styles with various different hair lengths. It also came with some hair dying pens that you could draw on the hair with to colour it. The dye was obviously not permanent and could be washed out when you were finished.

I wonder how many hairdressers and beauty salon employees started out their training with one of these toys?

Girl’s World is still available today, with one version now coming with beads that can be put into the hair as well. There’s also a rather disturbing talking model, that has an animated mouth. The reason I call it disturbing is that when it speaks there’s something that looks decidedly creepy about it. I guess it puts me in mind of Chucky from the Child’s Play films a little bit too much. The idea has also been picked up by other toy manufacturers and there is now also a Barbie branded version of the toy.

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BMX Bikes

Posted by Big Boo on February 15th, 2008

bmx bike raleigh burnerThe craze for Bicycle Motorcross, or BMX, was at it’s highest during the early 1980’s. Popularised by films such as BMX Bandits and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial which featured kids riding around perform stunts and tricks, there was a period where every kid wanted a BMX bike, and it was not cool to be seen riding any other kind of bicycle.

Pictured is the Raleigh Super Burner, which I distinctly remember falling in love with as a boy. Mum and Dad got me a Raleigh Grifter instead, which was disappointing at the time but given that the Grifter had three gears whilst the Burner had none, it was probably a wise decision. It certainly made the bike ride to school and back each day a better experience, and it wasn’t that far off being a true BMX bike in looks. Besides, the chances of me ever becoming enough of a daredevil to jump over ramps and such were never going to be high, if I’m truthful.

Anyway, there are two main disciplines to BMX biking, which are BMX racing and Freestyle BMX. The former is where the BMX craze originated, as it most closely resembles real Motorcross on motorbikes. Races consisted of several riders completing laps around a circuit (usually made on bare earth) that comprised dips, ramps and banked turns which had to be negotiated.

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The One Pound Note

Posted by Big Boo on February 14th, 2008

One pound noteManaging to last slightly longer than the Half Penny Coin, the One Pound Note was the second of the UK’s legal tender (after decimalisation) to be phased out of circulation. The main reason for it’s demise was the introduction of the One Pound Coin in 1983, which whilst slightly more expensive to manufacture could last for up to 50 times longer than it’s paper equivalent. The note managed to cling on to a place in our wallets until 1988, when on March 11th it was no longer considered a part of the British currency system.

Surprisingly enough, one of the biggest advocates for keeping the old note was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who believed the new coinage was not popular with the British public and that the note would be retained. However, it was extremely popular with manufacturers of vending machines and other automated systems, as it was much easier to check for than a note, and also with the blind, who found it much easier to recognise by touch than the old note.

The old note featured a very young looking Queen Elizabeth II sitting proudly on the front, printed in green ink. The reverse was more of a greyish brown colour, and featured Sir Isaac Newton, sitting beneath a tree of sorts, although sadly not obviously an apple tree, given that this was how he was supposed to have discovered gravity.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Nitty Nora The Bug Explorer

Posted by Big Boo on February 13th, 2008

Head LicePictured here is a human head louse. Ugly little bugger ain’t he. But how did we combat such an ugly foe? This is a job for Nitty Nora – The Bug Explorer!

I am of course referring to the lady in the white lab coat who came every so often to your school to check the hair of every kid looking for head lice, or nits as they are more popularly known. Her name probably wasn’t Nora, but her appearance struck dread into every kids heart. Every school class took it in turns to line up before Nora, who would then examine your hair by pulling it about checking for both nits and, more importantly, their eggs. This wasn’t usually too bad for boys, but for girls with long hair it was much more of a chore, as they normally had to have any plaits etc. taken out first, which meant that the younger girls were then wandering about for the rest of the day with a tangled mess of hair.

The worst thing was she wouldn’t tell you that you had nits (if indeed you had). No, that was revealed at the end of the day when an envelope was given to each child with nits to take home to their Mum. This was probably more embarassing since every kid in the class saw you collect your envelope. It didn’t matter how much you protested that nits only lived in people with clean hair (I’ve never worked out if that’s true), you were then called a fleabag for the next week or so, and no other kids wanted to play with you because their parents had told them to keep their distance, just in case.

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Grange Hill

Posted by Big Boo on February 12th, 2008

Grange HillFlippin’ ‘Eck! It was announced by the BBC last week that after 30 years they have decided to bring school drama series Grange Hill to an end. Creator of the show Phil Redmond was said to be disappointed at the decision, and I can understand why given the rather feeble excuse that the Beeb gave. Apparently, the show no longer represents what school life is about for children of today. Er, hang on a minute. Last time I checked kids were still supposed to go to school every day (truancy problems aside) so how can a programme about a school not be relevant? Presumably Grange Hill the fictional school has changed over the years to mirror the changes in UK schools that have occured, so surely it must still reflect life in secondary school today?

Oh well, the decision has been made, and this years series will be the last, so now seems a good time to remember Grange Hill as it was during the 1980’s. The first thing most people will remember about Grange Hill is “that” theme tune and the comic book beginning featuring a kid reading a comic in class (and being spotted by the teacher), a swimming lesson, a fight in the playground, and of course everybody’s favourite, the sausage on a fork that flew into the dining room scene. Unfortunately the theme song and comic disappeared sometime around the early 1990’s, to be replaced with a rather boring montage style title sequence and a terrible tinkly tonkly theme song.

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Ashes To Ashes

Posted by Big Boo on February 11th, 2008

Ashes To AshesAiring for the first time last week, Ashes To Ashes is the much anticipated follow up to the excellent (if somewhat confusing at times) Life On Mars. Sam Tyler may have been replaced by female detective Alex Drake, a psychological profiler, but the important thing is that Gene Hunt returns (as politically uncorrect as ever) with his mostly incompetent sidekicks Chris Skelton and Ray Carling.

The opening episode of Ashes To Ashes sees Alex Drake shot by a criminal who has gone a little mad and is blaming her for the downfall of his criminal empire. He also seems to know something about the death of her parents. Upon being shot Alex wakes up dressed as a hooker amidst a party on a boat, with the strains of Ultravox’s Vienna ringing in her ears, marking the year as 1981. Not knowing quite what’s going on she leaves the boat as police storm it, still believing she has been shot. This is where she meets Gene and his gang for the first time.

As the episode progresses Alex realises that what is happening to her must be the same as what happened to Sam Tyler, who’s case she was following after he came out of his coma and then commited suicide at the end of Life On Mars.

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Sherbet Dip Dab

Posted by Big Boo on February 8th, 2008

Sherbet Dip DabThe image here shows the Barratt’s Sherbet Dip Dab as it is today, but it doesn’t seem a million miles away from the packaging I remember. I’m pretty sure the colour scheme is the same, and the image and logo aren’t much different either. I’ve always preferred the Dip Dab to that other classic the Sherbet Fountain simply because I don’t like liquorice.

The Dip Dab consisted of a little paper bag full of sherbet powder and a strawberry flavoured boiled sweet lollipop. Some countries know sherbet as an ice cream or sorbet style food stuff, but for us in the UK sherbet will always be a fizzy white powder that looked a bit like icing sugar, that made your tongue fizz when you ate it. The Dip Dab was therefore aptly named, as you are it by dipping the lolly in the bag, dabbing it in the sherbet, then licking the lolly clean and repeating.

Personally I loved the sherbet much more than the lollipop, so would often purposely eat the lolly as quickly as possible so that I could spoon the rest of the sherbet out of the bag straight into my mouth. Mmm, lovely!

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