20 November 2009

Ted Moult And The 1980s Everest Double Glazing Ads ...


Before the 1980s, I never even dreamt of having double glazed windows. My bedroom window was an old wooden sash, ice formed on the inside when it was cold, and if it was windy it rattled all night long. Breath came out as steam on cold nights.

In the 1980s, double glazing started coming into the lives of people like me - lowly members of the common herd - and one of the TV, newspaper and magazine ad series which most attracted my attention was the one for Everest Double Glazing. The ads featured Derbyshire farmer Ted Moult - the man credited for coming up with the concept of "pick your own strawberries". A popular media figure since the 1960s, in November 1982, Mr Moult began distinguishing himself further as a contributor to the first programme ever shown on Channel 4 - Countdown. 

Of course, double glazing was then different - mostly wood or metal frames, but all that PVC came home to roost in the 1980s and I was shocked when a friend of mine had plastic windows and doors fitted around 1986. I have them now - but I'm still not keen.

Anyway, back to the Everest ads. Remember the '80s Everest ad at the top of this post, probably the most famous, with Ted visiting the Tan Hill Inn, England's highest inn? And the feather routine? Not even a hint of a draught, was there? Etched on the memory is it not? Along with that catchphrase: "You only fit double glazing once. So fit the best - Everest." 

That ad convinced many of us that, for sound insulation and draught proofing, double glazing was a must. How had we ever survived without it? I must admit, thinking back on the icy cold bedroom of my youth, I do sometimes wonder, without even a hint of irony!

Some 1984 TV Times magazine ads - including an ad for Everest double glazing featuring Ted Moult. The ads spanned the early-to-mid 1980s. 

Andy's footnote... Suffering from depression, Ted Moult committed suicide in 1986.

08 November 2009

1981/1982: Buy A Trimphone PLEASE - We'll Give You Funky Two-Tone Colours, We'll Call Them Phoenixphones... We'll Knock £15 Off.... We'll Do ANYTHING

From the Daily Mail, April 15, 1981. British Telecom arrived in 1980 and in 1981 began selling phones for the very first time. Before that subscribers could only rent, and there wasn't much choice of styles. The Trimphone arrived in the 1960s, and with its distinctive warble was supposedly set for great things.

The Trimphone of the 1960s and 1970s came in one sludgy colour scheme (ignore Life On Mars and Margaret - they'll put you wrong - more about that later!) and I've often wondered just how popular they were? If you watch actual television shows of the era, how many Trimphones do you see?

Crossroads, the ITV Midlands soap, had one of the early sludge-coloured beauties - it was in the very trendy flat of the womanising restaurant manager (later home to Miss Diane) - and was on-screen from 1977 until the mid-1980s.

Incidentally, in a 1983 episode of
Crossroads I recently viewed, the Trimphone rang on one occasion like a traditional bell-ringer phone. This was obviously because the chap or chappess in charge of the sound effects had forgotten to use the "warble effect". None of the characters on screen appeared to notice the oddness of this event. Crossroads was endearingly batty at times!

But, apart from the very odd one in Crossroads, Trimphones were thin on the ground on the telly.

In 1981, with their desire to sell phones, that brave new entity, BT, seemed very keen indeed to flog off Trimphones. So, they gave them lovely two-tone colours. And offered £15.00 off.

From the newspaper ad above:

The Trimphone is a lightweight phone with a melodious warble. It combines the best in modern technology with a timeless elegance of design.

Normally, it costs quite a bit more than an ordinary phone, as you might expect. However, until 31 July 1981, we're offering it to you at a knock-down price.

There are two models, the press-button and a dial model. They come in a range of 3 attractive two-tone colours.

For full details, do one of two things. Call the operator and ask for Freefone 888 anytime during office hours, or fill in the coupon (no stamp required). Either way, you'll get a warble for a song.

I'm not sure how successful this marketing ploy was. Everybody I knew who had a telephone (apart from my posh auntie who had a Trimphone - but then she would) had a bog standard traditional dial bell-ringer and I noticed none of these new colourful 1981 Trimphones suddenly bursting out all over.

In early 1982, BT, seemingly absolutely determined to flog these phones, went further.

The two-tone colour gimmick of 1981 continued, but the Trimphones were now called Phoenixphones. Lord Snowdon had a hand in picking the colours, and they were all part of "The Snowdon Collection". There's stylish for you!

The Trimphone goes colourful - the 1982 Phoenix Phone, sorry, Phoenixphone, all one word, available in dial or push-button models.

I didn't see any of these new telephonic style icons on my daily rounds. And BT released such a range of telephones for sale in the 1980s that the Trimphone/Phoenixphone soon seemed positively quaint.

Bizarrely, a couple of the red trimphones - sorry, Phoenixphones - have recently, quite wrongly, appeared in TV programmes set in the 1970s - including
Life On Mars and Margaret.

They've also cropped up on one or two websites dedicated to phones as "70s" items and are often falsely sold as such on eBay

Odd, isn't it - just how many '60s and '80s pop culture items are attributed to the 1970s?

But then perhaps it's not so surprising - the modern day fantasy view of the 1970s largely depends on 1960s and 1980s realities to keep up its totally fake "funky" image!

07 November 2009

Texas Tom - Commercial Break 1988

Does anybody else remember the Texas Tom TV ads?

The words to the ads were set to a country and western dirge, and sung by a very rugged-sounding gent with an American accent, who was apparently called Texas Tom.

But the setting was England - complete with rain.

In one of the ads (I think there were several), a woman was at home, doing the ironing, apparently dreaming of somebody called Texas Tom. The accompanying song's lyrics assured us that he could transform her drab home. So off she went into the rain, headed for her local Texas Homecare store.

During the ad, we saw the back view of a man several times - and it would appear that this was Texas Tom, the hunk doing the singing...

The woman arrived at Texas, soaking wet, asked for Tom, the guy turned around... and he was not what you might expect.

For years, the Texas ads had the slogan "Texas - The Big One" - these ads are usually the first to spring to mind when Texas Homecare is mentioned.

Texas Tom arrived in the late 1980s (the screen capture at the top of this post is from a 1988 video recording) and didn't stick around for long. But the ad had a certain charm - and I remember it fondly.

And guess what? Apparently some customers actually asked for Tom at their local Texas Homecare stores!

"Just Ask For Tom" - Texas Homecare ad from the Sun, August 28, 1989.

By the miracle of YouTube see a 1988 Texas Tom
TV ad below!

UPDATE - 7/11/2009:

I have just received a comment from Mr Paul Richey. When Texas Tom made his TV ad debut in the late 1980s, Mr Richey was a country singer of Nashville, Tennessee. So, what has Mr Richey got to do with Tom? I quote from Mr Richey's comment below:

I was the voice of Texas Tom in the advert. I also appeared at the Wembley Festival three different years and did a six week tour with Billie Jo Spears. Our opening act was Raymond Froggett. I still live in Nashville and I'm a Songwriter and Music Publisher. Was surprised to have found this advert.

Texas Tom was a 1980s TV ads hero of mine, Paul! I thought those ads were great fun and remember them fondly. Thank you for getting in touch - I have often wondered who gave Tom voice!

06 November 2009

Some Advice On Blogging About A Decade...

Jim has written to ask me for advice about producing a blog based on the events and pop culture of a particular decade. Very flattering, although I'm no high-minded expert!

A few points may be of interest:

1) Choose a decade you are enthusiastic about - one about which you have good memories, an important time in your life - or a decade you never lived through but have enthusiasm for nonetheless.

2) Read up all about it. You may have lived through, for example, the 1980s, but you are one person. Your memories of living through the decade are very important - these insights help to give the blog life and colour. But also include as much media material as possible, and see yourself in perspective, also including the perspectives of others differently placed from yourself.

3) Don't trust all you read. I never use Wikipedia for example, or BBC on-line, or the I Love... BBC TV shows. I find there are inaccuracies and personal agendas seeping through to an alarming degree. Even media actually from a decade can contain misleading information, and I'm not just talking about political biases - basic facts are sometimes misreported. If you are including a snippet from a newspaper/magazine article or TV or radio show, and you know one or more facts are wrong, insert the correct fact/s - something like this:

[The Hungarian Magic Cube became Rubik's Cube in 1980 when it was re-named, re-manufactured and entered mainstream pop culture in the western world. It was released in America in May 1980, and the trademark was first registered in the UK on 7/5/1980 but, due to a shortage, the first Rubik's Cubes did not arrive here until just before Christmas].

Squared brackets indicate that this is your writing, a departure from whatever text you have been quoting.

4) Make it serious, make it fun. If you remember, for instance, the moment the Rubik's Cube first arrived in your household in 1980 or 1981, write it up. Was Dad befuddled? Did your little sis turn out to be an unexpected Cube genius? Cover major events, politics, TV, pop culture, pop music, film and fashion trends. Try and present as full a picture of the decade as possible.

5) Remember that decades are very short periods of time and look at how they link to other times. In the case of the 1980s, for example, something much seen in 1980/81 was flared trousers, not the height of fashion, but still around in large numbers. These are a link back to the late 1960s when this fashion first began to enter the mainstream. Do not be afraid to scan across the decades for the origins of some fads, fashions, news stories etc. Time is not split up rigidly into decades, it is a constantly flowing stream.

6) Accuracy is of prime importance. Study, study, study - there is a great deal of inaccurate information on-line. Try and make your blog a resource readers can trust. If you discover you have got something wrong, correct it!

7) Be prepared to answer e-mail queries/comments from readers.

8) Be as obscure as you like. You may have loved Max Wall as Walter Soper in Crossroads from 1982-1983, and have detailed knowledge of Marjorie Dawe and her life at Riddleton End (for example). Blog it all. You can rest assured that a topic not covered much elsewhere will add extra interest to your blog - and some people out there will come looking!

9) Most of all, have fun! And if you like your subject matter, that shouldn't be too difficult. I find '80s Actual to be both stimulating and relaxing. My final piece of advice, in the "immortal" words of Wham! is "Enjoy what you do!"

01 November 2009

The Pretenders - Chrissie Hynde In 1981...

There was no House Music in 1980. It did not exist. No true Hip Hop scene either (we'd just experienced the first Rap record to chart).

But 1980 threw us a few final Disco classics, brought us
Buster Bloodvessel and Bad Manners, David Bowie's weird and wonderful Ashes To Ashes with its groundbreaking video, and The Cure with A Forest. Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet hit the charts as The New Romantics began their reign, and it was a golden year for new boys Madness. In fact, all in all, 1980 was an excellent year for the pop charts.

19 January 1980, the decade got its first new chart topper - Brass In Pocket by The Pretenders.

With a title like that, some think it an appropriate first new Number 1 for the '80s. Perhaps it is - although in 1980 the financial climate was grim and
yuppies unknown.

Brass In Pocket was gloriously downbeat music-wise, whilst the lyrics were personable and optimistic.

Here's a small but (I think) fascinating glimpse into the world of Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde from the Daily Mirror, July 27, 1981.


Now rock star Chrissie really is mean and moody

She looks as though she has just got off the pillion of a greaser's motorbike.

Big leather jacket, black eyeliner, stark white face and a street fighter's stride.

The tough image would force a building worker to think twice before whistling.

But the mean, moody look has made Chrissie Hynde star rock singer with The Pretenders. Now the moodiness is for real, because Chrissie is not sure anymore she wants to be a star.

"I could go back to being a dropout. I was really good at that. No stage nerves, no worries or responsibilities. Just a bag on my back, moving around, sleeping on somebody's floor, earning a few pounds here and there.

"That was much more me than all this."

She means the top hotels, the chauffeur-driven limousines and the shyness she has to fight each time The Pretenders appear in concert.

"I didn't go into the rock world for money and stardom, or to join the superstar sex round their swimming pools. I like writing songs and playing my guitar. A recording contract came along. At the time, it seemed more fun than being a waitress. Now, I'm not so sure."

Rock fans might find that a little difficult to swallow. But the stage punk has little in common with the thoughtful, 29-year-old Chrissie voicing her doubts.

Chrissie left her native American city, Ohio, in 1973, and bummed around London for four years until she met Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers and James Honeyman-Scott - the three Hereford men who eventually made up The Pretenders.

After Brass In Pocket reached number one, the band became one of the biggest names on the international rock circuit.

A tour of Britain, America, Japan and Australia - to coincide with their new album Pretenders II - ends in three days.

Non-smoker Chrissie hardly drinks. And has no interest in the rock tour diet of sex and drugs.

"Cocaine, it's the new calling card when you're on the road. Strange people appear backstage with little packets. They say, want me to cut you up some fun? And I say, get your ass outa here.

"Believe me, it's difficult trying to stay sober and clear-headed around rock people.

"Everyone is so intent on getting high. A little bourbon here, more beer over there.

"Meanwhile, I'm trying to smile at the jokes, keep up with the fun, and all the time I'd rather be sitting in a room by myself."

She gives the impression that her life is one long solo act.

Try steering the conversation to men, and a series of no-entry signs appear.

Mention love, and she clams up tighter than her torn, drainpipe jeans.

"My man of the moment?" She repeated the question with a shocked expression.

"I don't have men for the moment. I'm not like that

"I've never had a boyfriend until now. There is a man in my life now, but I'm not telling who he is or what he does.

"I'm not denying him because I want the fans to think I'm wild, free and available. I was always a loner before I met him.

"Friends filled my life, that was enough."

She hums, she plays with her hair and eventually admits that life is better with love.

"I suppose there is some colour now. Yeah, colours like black and blue."

Later, she walked back to her West End flat chatting happily, then she saw a poster advertising The Pretenders.

She paused and said: "When I see pictures all over the walls like that, I know there's no escape."

The first two Pretenders albums, released in 1980 and 1981.