I came across this rather nicely put together web page called Do You Remember? the other day that contains a lot of nice 80s (and a few 70s) memories which I think you’ll probably enjoy. Lots of images and info about some classic old TV shows, but the thing that brought back the most memories to me was seeing the static image that appears whilst the page is loading. You don’t tend to see that on TVs any more, they usually detect there’s no signal and show a blank screen instead.
Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category
Here is a great British Christmas tradition that is still very much alive today – the big tin of chocolates! Indeed, these days we even have rather more of a choice available to us in this area than we did back in the Eighties with relative newcomers Celebrations and Miniature Heroes.
The two big players in the Christmas sweet market in the Eighties, who are both still very popular today, were Quality Street and Roses. Our household were very much in the Quality Street camp.
We were never allowed to open the tin of Quality Street until Christmas Eve, which I think went some way towards making the whole experience of them that much sweeter (no pun intended).
On Christmas Eve my Mum would open up the tin, and put a few large handfuls out into a serving tray, which then sat on the sideboard (and topped up when necessary) along with the other Christmas staples of Orange and Lemon jelly slices, nuts and a box of Eat Me dates (which were only ever eaten by my Dad several weeks after Christmas).
My personal favourite was and still is the Green Triangle, although I’m also quite partial to the Strawberry and Orange creams. I also liked the Gooseberry cream which looked identical to the Orange cream but was in a green wrapper. They did bring this sweet back for a special edition version a couple of years back, and I had to confess that until this happened I was convinced the green fruit cream flavour had been lime, but obviously not.
I always loved the run up to Christmas, with all the indicators that the big day would soon be upon us. It was getting colder of course, and darker earlier, and all the shops started to display their Christmas decorations (though I’m sure they never used to hang them up as early as they sometimes do these days).
As an avid goggle box guzzling Eighties child though, I think the thing that really started to indicate the coming of the Christmas season were the changes that suddenly occurred on the television. A number of changes happened, normally around the time December began, and in this post I want to discuss some of them. So, in no particular order…
The Christmas Movie and TV Specials Preview Adverts
One of the first signs that Christmas was coming was the arrival of the trailer advert that showed all the films that a channel would be boasting come Yuletide.
This was a time when we didn’t have satellite TV and therefore channels devoted to playing movies, which meant that it often took several years after their box office releases before films finally made it onto TV. Christmas was therefore a time when the TV channels had a captive audience, and so the majority of movie premiers occurred during the Yuletide break. The advert was thus always very exciting as you made a mental checklist of all the films you wanted to see.
There was also another similar trailer advert showing all the Christmas specials of various TV shows that you could look forward to watching whilst waiting for the turkey to digest.
As soon as the Christmas editions of the TV Times and Radio Times became available I would then scour the pages of them to identify all these wonderful films and shows I wanted to watch, and would note down when they were on, which channel, and how long they were, so I could also make sure I had enough video tape space to record anything I wanted to keep.
In recent years our local shopping centre, like most shopping centres across the country, has given the younger inhabitants of our town a chance to go and visit Father Christmas in order to let him know what they would like for their presents on the big day.
This year however it was reported in the local newspaper that Mr. Christmas would not be visiting our town, basically because it seemed nobody bothered to organise it this year for various reasons I won’t bore you with. Anyway, this saddened me somewhat as when my sister and I were little going to visit Father Christmas was one of the highlights of the year for us.
There were two options for us when it came to visiting Santa’s Grotto. The first was closest to home, in our home town’s independent department store. This shop used to devote a small corner of the toy department to the Grotto, which was a pretty simple wooden shell with a curtain for a door, with Father Christmas sat inside.
St. Nicholas was nestled between two tubs of toys (boys and girls) and after saying you had been good this year and reeling off the list of things you’d like to have you were allowed to choose a toy and that was that.
Technically more of a Seventies item I suppose, the Hostess Trolley is one of those strange household items that you just don’t really seem to see any more, despite the fact that I’m sure they must still be available.
Ah yes! Here we are, there’s an example of a modern Hostess Trolley on the Argos website, although it’s made from wood and looks a great deal more sturdy, and dare I say it, tasteful than the old metal versions that I’m thinking of.
The retro Hostess Trolley was basically little more than a couple of trays on wheels. The idea was to make it easy for the “hostess” to bring food and drink through from the kitchen to the dining room table, thus enabling them to spend less time travelling backwards and forwards to the kitchen and more time with their guests.
I distinctly remember my Nan having one very similar to the one in the picture accompanying this post. I think it was given to her as a present by my parents and several of my aunts and uncles clubbing together to buy it.
I remember always wanting to wheel it about as a kid, and being told I wasn’t allowed to, which was probably just as well as my other overriding memory of it was that it was a bit wobbly and rickety – not exactly what you want for transporting drinks and hot food around.
Today most of us have access to a vast number of TV channels, whether that be through satellite TV, cable of even Freeview. This means that most kids are already accustomed to having entire channels devoted to kids television running all day, every day. Things were different in the Eighties.
For part of the decade we only had three channels to choose from, and as kids we had to share these channels with all the other programmes intended for every other possible age group and interest. During term time this meant a couple of programmes for the very young around lunch time, and then a block of a couple of hours in the mid to late afternoon.
In the school holidays however, we considered ourselves lucky as both BBC1 and ITV would devote the entire morning to kids TV from around 9am onwards. This was a time when we would be treated to reruns of old cartoons, long running serials and the odd new show if we were really lucky.
Today then, I present to you my memories of watching TV in the mornings during the school holidays. Think of it as a very out of date page of the Radio Times or TV Times from the late Seventies and early Eighties.
The 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…
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.
It 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.