28 May 2005

1987 - Nokia Cityman, "You Got An Ology?", House Music, Respectable, All Night TV, It's A Sin, The Great Gale, Black Monday, "Nessie, Are You There?"

1987 saw the yuppies reaching the height of happiness. It seemed to be the year of yuppiedom. There was a feeling in the air that mankind had been striving to reach 1987 since creation, and we were now here - chortle, chortle! Nothing need ever change again. The feeling was strong, tangible. Strolling along, reeking of Mandate, bound for yet another night out, I sniffed the summer air and felt a sense of well being I'd never thought possible.

But 1987 was not what it seemed: if most of 1987 was yuppie heaven, from late-October onwards was sheer yuppie hell and, far more importantly, that month also left a trail of death and destruction...

More about 1987's month of turmoil here.

The 1980s had built up a stock of acronyms, and these were in full bloom in 1987. Were you a nimby? This stood for Not In My Backyard. You might be happy to see hostels for the homeless established, nuclear waste dumping sites found etc - just as long as they weren't in your neck of the woods. Then, of course, there were yuppies (young urban professionals). The coining of the "yuppie" tag happened in America in the early 1980s.

20th Century Words by John Ayto, traces the name back to 1982 and defines a yuppie thus:

a member of a socio-economic group comprising young professional people working in cities of a type thought of as typifying the ethos of the 1980s: ambitious, go-getting, newly affluent, young, class-free, owing no debt to the past. Originally US; a hybrid word coined probably by grafting an acronym based on "Young Urban Professional" (or "Young Upwardly mobile Professional") on to a basic model suggested by hippie.

Coincidentally, the book traces the hippie word back to 1953
! This came as something of a surprise to me as hippies and everything to do with hippiedom are usually so strongly associated with the 1960s.

Returning to the 1980s, I have read that the yuppie word was first coined in 1981, whilst 20th Century Words, as seen above, traces it to 1982. Whilst there is no doubt that it is an early 1980s coinage, yuppies were most prevalent in the mid-to-late decade.

I've also discovered that as well as plain and simple yuppies there were buppies (black yuppies), Juppies (Japanese yuppies), guppies (gay yuppies) and green yuppies
(environmentally concerned yuppies).

And then there were oinks (people with one income, no kids); dinkys (people with dual incomes, no kids yet); minkys (middle income, no kids yet); jollies (jet setting oldsters with lots of loot); glams (greying, leisured affluent middle aged); swells (single women earning lots of loot)... and it went on and on.

Perhaps you were a foodie - obsessively into food trends?

The Eighties/New Man thing was still going strong.

1987 was posh, even the crisps had gone upmarket by this time - "Cheese and onion?" "No, ta, cheese and chive for me." It was so posh that Donna Summer would have been having Dinner With Gershwin and watching Rembrandt sketch if they'd still been about. But it was also brash. The shoulder pads were at maximum stretch. The hair was too big, the puffball skirts too yucky. But we didn't realise.

NMT, the world's first international cellular mobile telephone network, had opened in Scandinavia in 1981. In 1987, the Nokia Cityman, the world's first NMT hand portable, was launched.
More here.

Still on the subject of phones, Maureen Lipman made her debut as Jewish grandma Beattie Bellman in the famous BT "ology" ad series. For further details click here!

Musically, we were hearing an exciting new sound which was bursting out of America: House. After Farley "Jackmaster" Funk reaching No 10 in the UK singles chart in late 1986, Steve "Silk" Hurley took it to the top when Jack Your Body made Number 1 in January 1987.

Remember H... H... H... House Nation, which invaded the airwaves in September?

House was a new genre of electronic music which originated in Chicago, USA, in the early 1980s. And here in 1987 we were well and truly reaping the benefits.

M/A/R/R/S took us screeching towards the Dance era with Pump Up The Volume, we were Star Trekkin' with The Firm, Kirsty and the Pogues gave us the wonderful Fairytale of New York for Christmas, and the Pet Shop Boys told us It's A Sin.

Neighbours, cancelled by Australian Channel 7, had been picked up by their Channel 10, and we began to see the Channel 10 episodes here in 1987. This was the year we first clapped eyes on busybody Mrs Mangel. Played by the English-born actress Vivean Gray, Mrs Mangel was the type of sticky beak character essential to all good soaps. Mrs M palled up with Eileen Clarke (played by another English-born actress, Myra de Groot) and the two gave the soap some of its finest and funniest moments.

The role of Neighbours' skate boarding teen Scott Robinson was recast - a young actor called Jason Donovan stepped into the role, and soon he needed a love interest. The character Charlene Mitchell was introduced, played by another young unknown, Kylie Minogue. 1987 saw Scott and Charlene marry in Australia, however we lagged behind and would have to wait until 1988. Neighbours' popularity swelled enormously here in 1987, and Scott and Charlene's courtship kept ever-increasing numbers of us glued to the screens.
"Read All About It" here.

Soap, soap n' more soap was the order of the day. But after Pammy's dream in Dallas the previous year, could we really take any more weirdness?

In Dynasty spin-off The Colbys, Fallon was whisked away at the end of the series in a flying saucer. More here.

It was a great year for Michael Douglas. On at the flicks was the morality tale Wall Street ("greed is good"), and the chilling Fatal Attraction. The bunny was on the boil. Conveniently, I managed to spill my popcorn at several tense moments during the film, and so was spared the worst scenes.

Glenn Close put in an absolutely stunning performance as the very first bunny boiler... remember that bathroom scene, where she lies beneath the water, apparently dead, with that slightly puzzled, slightly hurt expression on her face? Then - ARRRGGGHHH!! - up she rises and, oh dear, there goes the popcorn again...

Actually, I didn't go to the pictures very often because I preferred to dance. I loved the local Nite Spot; I loved the black and chrome decor and all the full length mirrors; I loved the pink and blue neons; I loved togging myself up in my white chinos; or one of my black suits with the multi-coloured cotton flecks; or my shiny grey suit; or my bright pink linen jacket; or my smart blue jacket - which went so well with my banana yellow skin-tight trousers.

I often wore one of my stockbroker shirts or a nice cerise vest...

I was completely and utterly hooked on big shoulder pads. I was developing a very slight beer belly, and the pads detracted from this brilliantly.

All my clothes were cheap-and-cheerful- from the likes of C&A - there was some lovely... well, I suppose it might now be called "flash trash" around.

In the news, Manchester police chief James Anderton announced that God may be using him as a prophet.

There were several terrible tragedies in 1987 - the capsizing of the car-ferry Herald of Free Enterprise and the Hungerford killings to name but two.

In October, my attention was diverted north of the border as it seemed that Nessie was, at last, to be revealed. But she wasn't.