The Times They Are A Changin Part 2
Things are changing so fast. My childhood took place before the onset of central heating. In winter (and the occasional poor summer) condensation would freeze on the inside of the bedroom window. You could not move under the weight of the many blankets in a winter before duvets. You would race downstairs in the morning, in slippered feet, to dress hurriedly in front of the lounge electric bar-heater. True you could have risked the bathroom with the old circular light and heater combined; the one with the pull down switch. But, these things buzzed like a disturbed beehive, threw out heat like a napalm incendiary bomb, and smelled of smouldering dust and the polystyrene tiles which adorned the bathroom ceiling. And, the combination of electricity, condensation dripping from flammable polystyrene tiles, and my little wet hands never struck me as the safest of combinations. I never did feel safe. It was always the lounge bar-heater for me.
Whenever I meet up with my mates’ young families or see my teenage nephews, I am always reminded of how different things were when I was a child. All the kids today have mobiles. In my day, only babies were lucky enough to have those – bright, colourful, musical things that would hang above the crib. We didn’t have mobiles. We didn’t even have a phone at home. I was lucky if I even had change for a phone box. Phone boxes – tall, square, red, glazed and proud, smelling of urine and Friday night’s kebabs. You still see these phone boxes sometimes in posh hotels as trendy shower cubicles, or, in architectural salvage yards. Or as posh plant holders at garden centres.
The home telephone didn’t arrive in our house until way into the 80s. It arrived at about the same time as the colour TV, Breakfast Television, the chest freezer, Vesta curries and the Pot Noodle. It arrived long before the central heating was installed and the front room wall was knocked down to create a through room. In my day, while the toilets had all been brought inside and upstairs, we still had front rooms. Visited only ever on special occasions. Funerals mostly. Indeed, my grandma’s generation still had parlours and outside loos.
My family were not exactly “early adopters”. We couldn’t afford to be.These were the years of strikes. Winters of discontent. Rubbish piled up in the street as wine lakes and butter mountains formed in Europe. Many a weekend viewing of the politically incorrect Black and White Minstrels, or Morecambe and Wise was interrupted by a power cut, with the family huddled around the emergency candles and a pack of sticky playing cards. Many a Saturday morning was spent queuing for bread or some other staple. My childhood was like modern-day Russia at times.
Today, my nephews’ bedrooms are like multi-media palaces. Mine was a place you slept in during the night, or where you were banished to as a punishment during the day. They have TVs, DVDs, CDs, PCs, videos, PS2s, GameBoys, IPOds, mobiles (WAP-enabled, of course), hamsters, a tropical fish tank, and even a rubber plant each! In my day, I didn’t even have privacy. If you even attempted to seek solace in the refuge of your own room you would be hunted down. Shouts of “what are you doing up there?” would climb the stairs. The door would be knocked: “Are you feeling OK?”. No privacy. No time alone. I think they assumed that there was only one thing a teenage boy could be doing on his own in the waking hours. They were probably right!
After all, I did have pictures of the “Bionic Woman” (Wagner, sigh!), Raquel Welch in One Million years BC, and “Charlie’s’ Angels” on the wall of my bedroom – the originals with Farah Fawcett not Lucy Lui (but I could be persuaded).
By about 14 I did get a top-loading cassette player. The kind that you recorded with by placing it next to the radio and turning the volume up. Later I progressed to a tape-to-tape, but seeing as I only had my mom and dad’s music to tape from the choice was somewhat limited. While Abba’s Greatest Hits have become a bit more retro-chic, I doubt that James Last’s Orchestra or Klaus Wunderlicht and his amazing bontempi will ever be considered cool.
Most kids today probably have access to free porn (being far more technically astute than their parents). I had to make do with a vivid imagination. I never could work out which out of the blonde and the brunette in “Abba” I would do first. I fancied most of the assistants on “the Generation Game” and “Dr Who”, especially Sarah Jane Smith who has recently played roles in the latest versions. Of course I never fancied Bonnie Langford. She is a two-bagger (you make her wear a bag to hide her face and you wear one yourself, just in case her’s falls off). Sarah Greene was on Blue Peter in those days performing the sexiest thing ever seen on TV – demonstrating how to pull on skin-tight jeans using a coat hanger. Not to be missed. Never to be forgotten. And this was before I heard about the pool table incident at Hull University!
I also tended to like the female presenters on Saturday morning kids’ TV. I still do. Sally James off “Tiswas”, Sarah Greene from “the Saturday Morning Picture Show” on the other side, Emma Forbes who cooked. Emma was the Nigella Lawson of the 1980s but even sexier and of better parentage. Emma was number 64 in the FHM top 100 female poll of 1996. She is Nanette Newman’s daughter, which conjures up a whole new “mother and daughter” fantasy which we shall not go into. Not right now.
Entry filed under: childhood memories, middleman, TV. Tags: 1980s, abba, anneka rice, Anthea Turner, bar heater, bionic woman, Bonnie Langford, bread queue, breakfast tv, carol vorderman, carole smillie, cat deeley, change, Charlene Tilton, chest freezer, childhood memories, children's tv, condensation, dallas, durham university, Emma Forbes, farah fawcett, front room, generation game, health and education, hull university, Kylie, kylie minogue, lack of privacy, lindsay wagner, lucy lui, memories, mobile phone, mother and daughter fantasy, nanette newman, nigella lawson, nostalgia, phone box, polystyrene tiles, pool table, porn, pot noodle, power cuts, privacy, raquel welch, Sally James, Sarah Greene, Sarah Jane Smith, teenage years, teenagers, vesta curry, victoria principal, winter of discontent.