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Archive for July, 2011

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The Price Is Right

Posted by Big Boo on July 29th, 2011

The Price Is RightBack when I were a lad, I have to admit I had somewhat of a fascination with all things American. Be it toys, films, or TV, somehow the US just seemed to have bigger and better versions of everything. In fact, probably about the only area where the UK managed to hold it’s own back then was with music.

I obviously wasn’t the only one in love with American things, as TV producers started to look across the pond for ideas for new shows they could bring over to our shores, and one of the areas they looked to for inspiration was the game show.

One of the first and probably longest running of these shows was Family Fortunes (called Family Feud in the States) but today I’m thinking of a show which came to represent what a lot of people in the UK thought of US television. Big, brash, bold and incredibly glitzy, I give you The Price Is Right.

I remember seeing clips of the US version before it came to the UK, probably on one of those clip shows like Clive James on TV or It’ll Be Alright On The Night. The funniest thing about it was how over excited all the contestants on the show were when they’re names were called out and they were told to “come on down” to play.

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Back To School

Posted by Big Boo on July 25th, 2011

Back To SchoolThe school summer holidays may have just started in the UK (which might explain the less than brilliant weather we’re currently having) but for the past few weeks the shops have already been bombarding us with that phrase that every school child dreaded to hear…

Back to School

Whether you enjoyed going to school or not (and let’s face it most of us would probably have rather have been doing something else than double French on a Monday morning) this phrase haunted any shopping trip you might embark on during the summer break, and quite often for the last few weeks before school actually broke up too.

Whenever I used to see it I would think, “give us a chance, we’ve only just finished, don’t force us back already“, and would look sadly at those pictures of kids wearing pristine school uniforms that used to normally accompany the “Back to School” announcements in shop windows.

This of course was a chance for shops to make a bit of money selling charcoal coloured trousers and royal navy jumpers which just wouldn’t shift any other time of the year (indeed most shops only tend to stock a decent range of school uniform items during the summer period) to a panicky group of parents who were never sure whether to buy a size too big or not, so might end up buying both sizes just in case.

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The Last Space Shuttle Mission

Posted by Big Boo on July 22nd, 2011

Space Shuttle LandingIt is with sadness that I write about the last Space Shuttle mission, simply because I still remember the excitement that surrounded the first launch of the Shuttle by NASA back in 1981.

It’s the same sadness I felt when Concorde was put out of service, as it feels somewhat like it has happened prematurely. For both these amazing flying machines one of the principal reasons for their retirement has been safety after catastrophic accidents, and whilst I can completely understand why such decisions were ultimately made, it doesn’t stop the fact that the end of an era has come, and that feels like a shame to me.

In the case of the Space Shuttle, there were two big disasters. In 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger exploded only a minute or so after launch, whilst in 2003 Columbia was destroyed on re-entry, after suffering damage to one of the wings during launch. Hindsight seems to suggest that both of these disasters could have been avoided, particularly the Columbia mission where NASA refused to opportunity for the astronauts to take a space walk to inspect the sustained damage, and therefore perhaps be able to make some kind of repair.

The final Space Shuttle mission was carried out by Atlantis. Launched on July 8th 2011 it touched down back on Earth on July 21st. The purpose of the mission was to take supplies up to the International Space Station and return with some waste materials and components.

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Subbuteo

Posted by Big Boo on July 20th, 2011

Subbuteo Table FootballI’ve never been a big fan of the “beautiful game” it has to be said, but as a kid even I wanted a Subbuteo table football (or flick football as I called it back then) set to play with. There’s something about those little men on the plastic hemispheres that stirs some inner urge in men across the country to try and flick an oversized ball past a goalkeeper on a stick.

Subbuteo was invented by a chap named Peter Adolph. He initially placed adverts in The Boy’s Own back in 1946 for the game, but it wasn’t until the following year that final sets were sent out to eager customers. Initially Adolph wanted to call the game simply “Hobby”, but his application for a trademark was turned down, so instead the game became known as Subbuteo.

Why Subbuteo? In a rather convoluted piece of logic the name comes from the latin name Falco subbuteo, which is a bird of prey more commonly known as the Eurasian Hobby, which links back to Adolph’s original choice of name.

The first sets were quite simple, with wire and paper goal posts and cardboard cut out players attached to weighted buttons. It wasn’t until 1961 that the more recognisable three dimensional plastic men would be introduced, which in turn saw various changes and refinements until we reach the Eighties, when the nicely painted “lightweight” figure was introduced.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Wash & Go Shampoo

Posted by Big Boo on July 18th, 2011

Vidal Sassoon Wash & GoThere are an awful lot of TV ads that have been ridiculed over the years but one that has probably been ridiculed more than most is the advert for Vidal Sassoon Wash & Go shampoo.

Wash & Go was launched during the Eighties and was aimed at those Yuppie types who lived such incredibly busy lives. After a busy day at work, they hit the gym before hitting the town, but of course they need to look their best. However, having to both wash and condition their hair just took too long. What were they to do?

To the rescue came Vidal Sassoon, a man who could only ever have become a hairdresser with a name like that, with a bottle of Wash & Go, a cunning little green bottle containing a mixture of both shampoo and conditioner! Our Yuppie friends lives were saved!

Now the product itself was probably a very good idea, and in a round about kind of way so was the television advert for it. There were countless ads which all followed the same basic pattern, with some young go-getter (possibly even a famous sportsperson) giving us the same basic script:

“Spend time on shampoo and conditioner? Take two bottles into the shower? Not me! I just want to wash my hair and go, so I use Vidal Sassoon Wash & Go.”

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P-P-Pick Up A Penguin

Posted by Big Boo on July 13th, 2011

p-p-pick up a penguinAs chocolate biscuit bars go, you can always depend on the good old Penguin. It gets straight to the point and gives you exactly what you want – chocolate. Chocolate biscuit with chocolate cream filling, all coated in yet more milk chocolate, it might not be anything fancy, but it hits the spot.

The Penguin was first produced way back in 1932 by William McDonald, a biscuit company from Glasgow. In 1946 it became part of the McVitie’s line up when McDonald joined forces with several other biscuit companies to form United Biscuits (but not United biscuits, they came a long a little later 😉 )

Quite why they were named after the cold dwelling flightless bird I’m not sure, I don’t really see the link myself if there is one. However, the use of the Penguin was definitely a good idea, as most people tend to find penguins amusing, a fact which various TV adverts for the brand that we’ve had over the years took great advantage of.

The brands slogan of P-P-Pick Up A Penguin has also stood the test of time, and indeed is still used on the packaging now, though I can’t recall seeing a TV advert featuring it for quite some time.

Here’s a good example of the kind of advert we were treated to when I was a kid. It features a parcel of penguins (apparently that is the name for a group of them!) waddling around a fun fair and generally having a good time on the dodgems. It’s accompanied by a song sung by a very well-to-do sounding gentleman, which makes great use of the stuttering P to bring us the classic line “When you feel a little p-peckish, p-p-p-pick up a Penguin!

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C&A

Posted by Big Boo on July 11th, 2011

C&AI have very vivid memories of the dreaded clothes shopping trip when I was growing up. If either my sister or myself needed new clothes for any reason (e.g. new school uniform, grown out of old clothes, needed something for a special occasion) then the shops in our local town were usually next to useless, so the weekend meant a trip to the next biggest town about 15 miles away.

I think we loved and hated those trips in equal measure. Of course there were the good shops (i.e. toy shops and for me, computer game shops) that we got to look around as well, but the biggest part of the trip was going round the various clothes shops, which at that time usually included a visit to C&A.

C&A was a huge shop selling clothes for every possible member of the family, from babies through to grandparents, so it always seemed an extra long trawl as you had to negotiate the racks and racks of women’s clothes, up the escalator to get to the children’s clothes.

Then we’d try to find something both ourselves and our parents liked, and which the shop also had in the correct size, then go and try them on (hopefully in the changing rooms, though there was the odd indignity of having to try something on in the shop itself) before then taking the items to the till to pay and have the giant security discs removed.

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The Vapors – Turning Japanese

Posted by Big Boo on July 8th, 2011

Turning Japanese - The VaporsBeing successful in the music world must be really tough, as the number of “one hit wonder” bands we can no doubt all think of testifies. Why is it that a group can come out with one song that somehow ticks all the right boxes and becomes incredibly popular, yet then fail to find that magic mix again?

The Vapors apparently thought themselves that they could become a one hit wonder after writing Turning Japanese, to the extent that they held the song back to be their second released single, in the hope that this damning fate wouldn’t happen to them. Sadly for them the strategy didn’t work, and so they will now forever be known to the masses just for this song.

However, it’s a good song to be remembered for, as its distinctive oriental sounding snatches make it instantly recognisable right from the start. The song is a very lively one with a catchy chorus that you only need to hear once to have it indelibly stamped into your brain (to be fair though the whole chorus does just consist of the following three lines repeated four times, so perhaps it’s no wonder)

I’m turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so

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