This weeks survey is based on the personal organiser, or Filofax as the original ones were called. Â Many kids got given these as Christmas presents from relatives who didn’t know what else to get, although if you got a proper Filofax one then you’ve got richer relatives than I have.
So, regardless of whether it was a gift or you bought it yourself, I want to know whether you had a personal organiser or not, and if so if it was a proper Filofax.
With the news that Wendy Richard has died from Cancer this week I thought I’d remember what I consider her finest role from the 1980’s. Â No, not Pauline Fowler from EastEnders, although that did start in the eighties. Â I am of course talking about Miss Brahms, the “pretty one” from Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served? was a BBC situation comedy that ran from 1972 to 1985, and was primarily about a group of shop assistants who worked in the clothing department of Grace Brothers department store. Â It is one of those sitcoms that these days is considered crass and not politically correct, but at its peak would attract 22 million viewers. Â You don’t get viewing figures like that any more!
The clothing department of Grace Brothers was split in two halves, with the left hand side of the set being women’s clothes and the right side mens. Â The male counter was primarily run by Mr. Humphreys (John Inman), who was as camp as could be and is best known for his “I’m free!” catchphrase. Â Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton) was presumably in charge, and liked to let every one know this, although he rarely seemed to serve anybody himself.
The Filofax became an indispensable item for many in the 1980’s, especially with the group of people known as Young Urban Professionals, or rather less glamourously put, Yuppies.
Before we had iPhones and PDAs the best way to keep yourself organised whilst dashing between meetings was to get yourself a personal organiser, and if you didn’t want to be a laughing stock in the boardroom you’d better make sure it was a Filofax that you used.
Of course, all the Filofax really amounted to was a cross between a diary and a ring binder. Â The decent ones cost an arm and a leg, and were covered in leather to keep them in good condition, and had a popper or clasp of some sort to keep them closed. Â Imitation personal organiser were covered in faux leather or worse still, plastic…
Inside there was a ring binder mechanism with multiple rings to prevent the pages falling out too easily due to wear and tear from riffling through them. Â When you bought a new Filofax you would generally always have a diary of some kind, since this was their core purpose. Â Diary sheets were available in just about any format you can think of, from day to a page through all the various possibilities to month to a page and beyond.
But it didn’t stop just at diary sheets. Â Oh no! Â The more obvious additional insert pages you could buy to customise your Filofax were things such as notebooks, address books, time tables and to do lists, but the range went on to include maps and tools such as rulers, magnifiers and business card holders. Â All very well, but if you got too carried away you could find yourself needing a rucksack to carry the blessed thing around with you.
Sneaking in at the end of the decade, Disney’s film Honey I Shrunk The Kids was released in 1989 and became a very successful kids comedy adventure film, spawning several sequels, a TV show and even an attraction at Disneyland!
Wayne Szalinski’s (Rick Moranis) is a struggling inventor who has been tinkering in his attic trying to invent a shrink ray, a machine that is capable of shrinking anything to a fraction of it’s original size. Initially tests of the device don’t go well, with the items to be shrunk usually ending up exploding, but all this is fixed when one of the next door neighbours kids throws a baseball through the window, knocking the machine. Wayne’s kids accompany the two boys from next door into the attic to retrieve the baseball, and find themselves shrunk to the size of ants in the process.
The kids try to raise the alarm but end up getting taken out with the rubbish, and find themselves in an even worse predicament, stuck at the bottom of the back garden. Given their newly reduced size they find the garden a particularly hazardous place to be, having to fend off giant insects (well, giant to them anyway), massive water droplets from the garden sprinkler and even a robot lawnmower!
Meanwhile, realising what has happened, Wayne goes searching for the kids in the back garden, rigging up a rope and pulley system which he dangles from whilst wearing a massive magnifying glass, so as not to crush the kids accidentally under foot.
Here’s one from the depths of my sisters toy cupboard. Well, not exactly, as she didn’t have the real fashion wheel but an imitation version, but it was just as good – probably better since it was smaller in size so easier to play with.
The Fashion Wheel allowed junior Armanis to design their own fashion collection by rotating the wheel to select different items of clothing, then placing a piece of paper over the selected options and rubbing over it with a wax crayon held sideways, a bit like doing a brass rubbing, if anybody still does that these days.
The wheel was split into three sections that rotated independently, the top featuring a head with various hats or jewellery, the middle different shirts, jackets and blouses, and the bottom depicting skirts and trousers. These images were raised off the plastic of the wheel, so when you rubbed the crayon over them an image of the outfit you had designed was left on the paper. The designs could then be coloured in if you wished.
You’re probably more likely to recognise the name Raymond Briggs as the author of The Snowman, since the cartoon adaptation, along with the song Walking in the Air, sung by then choirboy Aled Jones, have made this particular book particularly famous. Â In complete contrast to this much sweeter story, I’ve decided to write today about one of Mr. Briggs earlier works, Fungus the Bogeyman.
The book charts a day (or should I say night) in the life of the titular Fungus, a Bogeyman whose job it is to scare us human beings witless. Â Fungus wakes up in his underground home and gets ready to go to work, and along the way we learn all about the disgusting traits and habits of the Bogeymen, who like dirt and grime in the same way we prefer cleanliness, especially when it comes to food!
Fungus starts his night of work, but finds himself going through a bit of an identity crisis. Â As he carries out his work of scaring people and giving them boils he wonders what life is all about, and what this job of his is really for, much like the rest of us have probably done at some point or other in their life.
This week I shared a few of my memories of the first Star Wars film. This film will always be just plain old Star Wars to me, even though the scroller has always said “A New Hope” at the beginning of the film. This week I thought I’d see which of the now six instalments is the best, by getting you all to vote for your favourite film.
Which of the Star Wars films is the best?
Next time, which is the best Ewok’s movie – Caravan of Courage or Battle for Endor? Only kidding, I’m proud to say I’ve never seen either of these films 😉
You’ve probably recently seen the TV advert for Virgin Atlantic, celebrating their 25th year of flying people around the world. Â This advert caught my attention for the sheer number of things lurking in the background that remind me so much of my childhood. Â You can see the video clip at the end of this post, but first here are the things that I spotted and the memories they invoked in me. See if you can see them all, and let me know if I missed anything you remember…
The Miners Strike – Referenced by the headline on The Sun in the advert (It’s the pits! – ho ho) this was when the British coal mining industry was closed down putting thousands out of work. I didn’t really understand all the politics behind it at the time, but I still remember the name Arthur Scargill, who was president of the National Union of Mineworkers. Sadly, the thing I remember most about the Miner’s Strike was that a computer game called Wanted! Monty Mole made the TV news as it was very loosely based around the strike.
Thermos Flasks – Can you still get those old fashioned Thermos flasks, the tall ones with the plastic cup on the top, normally with a tartan design on the body? I remember Mum and Dad always took these filled with tea whenever we went on a long journey. Pity you can’t get the kiddie versions, the Roughneck Flask anymore though.