This entry is about the foodstuff, not the Eighties band, so apologies to fans of synthpop…
Can you remember the last time you ate Blancmange? I certainly can’t, and to be honest I can say I’m not really too sad about that either.
For me, Blancmange was one of those desserts that I secretly dreaded my Mother setting on the table at dinner time. I admit I ate it, because it was that or nothing, but I never would say I really enjoyed it.
Basically a mixture of milk, sugar and gelatin or corn starch to make it set, it had a bit of a bland taste in it’s natural state, but when made in it’s pink (presumably strawberry flavoured) or yellow (banana) varieties it really didn’t taste that much better. Even chocolate blancmange didn’t taste that great either, which coming from someone who enjoys most chocolate based desserts shows quite how little I liked it.
The closest I get to eating Blancmange now I suppose is in Trifle, which funnily enough is something I actually like a lot. Technically it’s a custard layer in Trifle, but it is sort of Blancemange-y, and is my least favourite part of the Trifle ensemble. The way I see it, that’s why you have the jelly and cream layers!
Of course, maybe Blancmange is still out there and doing alright for itself, but it’s now just taken on some fancier sounding names like Panna Cotta so you eat it without realising it…
The Whizzkid’s Handbook, written by Peter Eldin, was a book intended as a sort of guide to surviving school life. It basically consisted of a host of tricks, dodges, hints and tips to allow you to keep one step ahead of your teachers at all times, and (probably correctly) assumed that every school boy or girl in the country secretly wanted to be Dennis the Menace or Minnie the Minx.
Whilst the majority of entries in the book would probably have had you sent to the headmasters office quicker than a very quick thing, they were certainly all amusing to read and at the very least wish you had the guts to do at school for real.
The kind of things you might find included tips like how to fake an illness to get a day off school, excuses for why you hadn’t done your homework, ways of out smarting the school bully and so on.
There were also some rather amusing fake educational entries, with my favourite being the entry on why fire engines are red, which went something like this:-
- Fire engines have six wheels and six firemen
- Six plus six is twelve
- Twelve inches make a ruler
- Queen Elizabeth was a ruler
- Elizabeth knighted Drake
- Drake sailed the seven seas
- In the seas there are fish
- Fish have fins
- Fins live in Finland
- Finland is next to Russia
- The Russian flag is red
- And that’s why fire engines are red!
OK, some dodgy logic, and sadly no longer true thanks to the Russian flag bit at the very least, but once you’d memorised all that it was one of those great ways of impressing your mates in the school playground.
The book proved incredibly popular, so much so that there were two further volumes published.
Introducing our latest
money making scheme feature, the Child of the 1980′s Store!
- Ever been stuck for a present idea for an Eighties mad friend?
- Want to track down that favourite film from your youth?
- Want to line the pockets of the author of this site?
If the answer to any of the above is “Yes” then rejoice, for here is the answer to your prayers!
We’ve scoured the pages of Amazon to find you loads of cool Eighties goodies, including books, DVDs of films and TV series, toys, games and music, many at bargain prices! Go on, you know it makes sense, as Del Boy would say.
Those nice people at Amazon have allowed me to pull out some select products from their vast range and present them to you with a nice little shop front. If you buy anything from here then I get a small
backhander payment too, which helps towards keeping me in Galaxy Counters this site running.
So visit the Child of the 1980′s Shop now, and get yourself that copy of Howard the Duck you always wanted…
Here’s a show that I’m sure many of you will have forgotten about until reading this. Luna was an ITV childrens Sci-Fi show, which given it was also a comedy still had a surprisingly dark streak to it.
The year is 2040, and the Earth as we know it has become an uninhabitable mess through pollution, nuclear war and God knows what else. People know live in the Efficiecity, a completely enclosed environment kept safe from the ravages of the outside world. People no longer live in traditional family groups, but instead are made artificially in “batches” and are then sent to live in artificial families in homes known as Habivirons.
The show is named after the main character, a young girl, or “female diminibeing”, who gets named Luna by the other members of her forced household, although her real name is the decidedly unflattering 72-batch-19Y. The other members of the group are Gramps, who is an aging punk who still remembers what the world used to be like, Andy, the habiviron’s android, Mother, the habiviron computer, and Brat, a young boy who’s name is fittingly given to him by Gramps – though Brat doesn’t know what the word actually means!
Luna was created by ex-Monkee Mickey Dolenz (who was also behind the Metal Mickey TV series) and was written by Colin Prockter and Colin Bennett, who also played Andy (and was the Mr. Bennett from Take Hart too). Luna was played by a young Patsy Kensit in the first series, and Joanna Wyatt in the second series, whilst Brat was played by Aaron Brown, who later appeared in the BBC kids drama Seaview alongside Blue Peter presenter (and now Most Haunted star) Yvette Fielding.
Today we have these new fangled things called digital cameras. Amazing things really, taking away all that need for buying films and then sending them off to Truprint and waiting several weeks to get them developed, only to have pictures of somebodies skiing holiday come back. Nah, we can print the pictures ourselves now, or take the memory card to the Tesco print shop!
Of course there was another option back in the Seventies and Eighties, and that was the good old Polaroid Instant camera. OK, you still had to buy film, but you were at absolutely zero risk of getting back some pictures of a bloke poncing about in the snow with two planks of wood strapped to his feet. Unless of course you happened to be on a skiing holiday of course…
All you had to do was point the camera at your designated target, press the button, and out the front of the camera popped a little square piece of paper. Initially it just looked like a greyish brownish rectangle with a white surround, but then some kind of witchcraft kicked in and slowly an image started to form out of the murk.
The developing process of a Polaroid instant camera picture was something that never ceased to amaze me. My cousin had one of these cameras, and whenever she took a picture everyone would crowd round to watch the picture appear before our very eyes. Sad perhaps, but hey, back then we only had three TV channels and there was no Internet or Nintendo GameBoys!
Here’s a type of sweet that I don’t remember eating in a long, long time, and I have to say that just thinking of them now makes me want to get a bag to bring back some old memories.
Flying Saucers were one of those sweets that were often to be found in your newsagents selection of Penny Sweets. Consisting of two pieces of coloured circular rice paper stuck together, with a little helping of sherbet sandwiched between them, they really were surprisingly tasty, assuming you ate them in the correct manner.
You see, the rice paper was a bit of a devilish idea. It was, to be honest, a bit bland tasting on it’s own. Attempting to suck a Flying Saucer was a mistake, because that rice paper would then get stuck to the roof of your mouth, and no amount of tongue wiggling could get it free.
No, Flying Saucers were definitely made to be bitten into, then the sherbet fell out against your tongue with a delightful fizzy taste, which then made eating the rice paper a much less onerous task.
These days it’s getting harder to find places that sell Penny Sweets singularly, so you really need to buy a whole bag of them (which is a nice excuse to be greedy I suppose), and online store A Quarter Of come to the rescue yet again with a nice big bag full of these fizzy treats.
It came to my attention the other day that pop group R.E.M. have decided to call it a day and will be disbanding after their next album which is due imminently. This surprised me on two counts, firstly I didn’t really realise they were still going, and secondly, I didn’t realise they were actually a band from the Eighties!
Here in the UK I don’t think R.E.M. really made a big splash until the early Nineties, with the release of their album Out Of Time, which contained songs such as Shiny Happy People and Losing My Religion, and indeed I always thought that they were a new band at the time. How wrong I was though, as they actually formed right back in 1980!
In January 1980 lead singer Michael Stipe met guitarist Peter Buck in a record shop where Buck worked. They got chatting and discovered they shared similar tastes in music and became friends. Later they met up with bass guitarist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, fellow students from the University of Georgia, who had been playing music together for a while, and they decided to have a go at forming their own group.
Before long the band felt they had something good going and dropped out of school to go touring around the southern US. They became a bit of a local phenomenon but it wasn’t until the summer of 1981 that they finally recorded their first single, Radio Free Europe. Despite only limited distribution, this song went on to become one of the New York Times best 10 singles of the year!
The Raccoons was a Canadian cartoon that was shown on the BBC on Saturday mornings (and I’m sure it also occupied the 5.30 time slot before the Beeb started showing Neighbours at that time).
As the name suggests, it was about some Raccoons! They lived in a place called the Evergreen Forest, and the show primarily followed the fun loving and mischief making (though never in a bad way) Bert Raccoon. There to keep him out of too much trouble were his good friends Ralph and Melissa (also Raccoons), who were also husband and wife.
Between them the trio ran a newspaper called The Evergreen Standard, with Ralph as editor, Bert as reporter and Melissa the photographer. The newspaper was very important to the inhabitants of the Evergreen Forest as it helped thwart the plans of the nasty Cyril Sneer.
Cyril Sneer was a tycoon who was always trying to find some way to make a profit, and this usually involved the forest being threatened as part of his schemes. Cyril was an aardvark who was pink in colour and had a nose that looked something like a water tap. He was usually seen chomping on a half smoked cigar.