28 April 2012

1983: Starting A New Year At Greenham Common...

As 1982, that famous/infamous year which brought us the Falklands War, ZX Spectrum, Channel 4 and deelyboppers ate its final bag of cheese and onion crisps and hitched up its leg warmers for the last time, the Greenham Common Women were making plans, which they put into action in the early hours of New Year's Day 1983...

Here's how the
Sunday Mirror, January 2, 1983, reported the events of 1 January:

Women peace campaigners staged a daring commando-style raid at the Greenham Common Cruise missile base at dawn yesterday.

At least fifty women, some of whom had slept in the undergrowth in the Berkshire countryside, went into action at 7 a.m.

They propped six ladders against the 12ft high perimeter fence, which stretches for nine miles round the missile base.
Then, laying old carpets across the barbed wire, they streamed over into the top secret Ministry of Defence property.

They were not spotted by special MOD police and American Air Force guards patrolling the fence.

By the time civilian police intervened, 44 demonstrators had got into the base where 96 American nuclear Cruise missiles are due to be sited in December.

The women, whooping and cheering, climbed on top of the 50ft silos which will house the missiles and sang peace songs.

One of the women left outside the fence, 29-year-0ld Deborah Law, said: "This is a symbol of hope for the New Year."

After 40 minutes, the demonstrators were carried down from the silos by police and taken by bus to Newbury police station, two miles away.

They were all charged with behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace, and will appear in court tomorrow.

Embarrassed base officials have launched a probe into the incident.

The Government has always maintained that there is no risk of missiles being hijacked by terrorists.

The origins of the Greenham Common Peace Camp stretched back to August 1981, when a group of women began a march from Cardiff, Wales, to Berkshire, England.

Their destination was the Greenham Common Airbase. The women were greatly concerned by the 1980 decision to site 96 Cruise missiles at the base.

The women arrived at the airbase on 5 September, 1981.

The march of the "Women For Life On Earth" led to the establishment of the Greenham Common Peace Camp.

In December 1982, 30,000 women held hands to "embrace the base".

Also in 1982, a decision was taken that men should not be allowed to join the Peace Camp.

The Greenham Common Peace Women were the subject of much controversy. In fact, perhaps I shouldn't call them "WoMEN" at all...

The title "wimmin" was apparently preferred by many of them. Misandry, of course. But then that was Feminism right from the get-go.

In his excellent book
20th Century Words (Oxford, 1999), John Ayto traces the word "wimmin" to 1983:

wimmin n (1983) A semi-phonetic spelling of women, adopted by some feminists as one not containing the ending -men.

20th Century Words notes that the word "wimmin" had been used in the past "for suggesting a particular sort (or class) of accent" - (a character in a book might pronounce "women" as "wimmin") - "but the polemical purpose marks out a new usage."

Mr Ayto traces two early uses of the word "wimmin" in feminist circles actually to Greenham Common:

1983 Sunday Times: Return to Greenham Common, view the wool webs, the papier maché masks, the eccentric re-spelling of words like 'wimmin', the improbable cosiness of the little tents in a landscape of wire fencing and policemen.

1983 Listener: Meanwhile, what of the Peace Women ('wimmin' in feminist placards) camped outside Greenham Common?

The first of the 96 Cruise missiles arrived at the base in November 1983. Thanks, Mrs Thatcher. Oh wait, wasn't she a wimmin? And she took us to war in 1982. A good friend of mine, a young and troubled teenager, went to Greenham in the early 1980s - where she experienced sexual abuse from some of the 'wimmin'. Funny old times.

24 April 2012

Howard, Hilda And Neddy...

 Howard and Hilda Hughes: "You can stay in the Polly Wolly Doodle room, Ann."

Mike has written to say:

I loved reading your blog post on Only Fools And Horses - lots of details, and very concise. Also enjoyed hearing about your step father's resemblance to Trigger! Is OFAH your favourite '80s sitcom?

Thanks, Mike, glad you enjoyed the post. If our research is superior to the BBC's we usually feel happy with an article, and in the case of OFAH, despite it being a BBC production, it is. In one of the BBC articles we recently read, the BBC states that the show's creator, John Sullivan, was a used car salesman at a time when he was actually working as a plumber and... wait for it... for the BBC! LOL!

We loved Only Fools... Grandad (Lennard Pearce) was our favourite character initially (we adored his two tellies and out of stepness) but Del, Rodney, Trigger and Uncle Albert soon took a grip on our affections.

But, much as we positively worshipped Only Fools... it is not our favourite 1980s sitcom.

That honour goes to the John Esmonde and Bob Larbey-penned Ever Decreasing Circles (1984-1989), a tale of an obsessive organiser and community-minded wally in a small suburban street (sorry, I mean close!) who finds all he holds dear threatened by a suave type for whom the sun always seems to shine.

It's a forgotten masterpiece.

Ever Decreasing... was great in so many ways - not least because it gave Richard Briers a chance to prove what a great actor he is. But the rest of the cast were wonderful too and the show is a very beautiful thing which we here at '80s Actual cherish and cherish again.

157 men went to mow, went to mow a meadow...

Read our review here.

22 April 2012

The ZX Spectrum - 30th Anniversary...

 Advertisement from Personal Computer World, November 1982.

It is thirty years since the ZX Spectrum was released. It had a massive impact, helping to bring personal computing into our lives to a tremendous agree, and is still fondly remembered by many. 

And me? Nah, mate, back in 1982 I thought that computers were for boffins and the ZX Spectrum would just be a fad confined to brainy wallies!

Just how wrong can a geezer be?

 Happy birthday, Speccy!

Below is the blurb from the ad pictured at the top of the post.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16K or 48K RAM... full-size moving-key keyboard colour and sound... high-resolution graphics... From only £125! 

First there was the world-beating Sinclair ZX80. The first personal computer for under £100. Then the ZX81. With up to 16K RAM available, and the ZX Printer. Giving more power and more flexibility. Together, they've sold over 500,000 so far, to make Sinclair world leaders in personal computing. 

And the ZX81 remains the ideal low-cost introduction to computing. 

Now there's the ZX Spectrum! With up to 48K of RAM. A full-size moving key keyboard. Vivid colour and sound. High resolution graphics. And a low price that's unrivalled. Professional power - personal computer price! 

The ZX Spectrum incorporates all the proven features of the ZX81. But its new 16K BASIC ROM dramatically increases your computing power. You have access to a range of 8 colours for foreground, background and border, together with a sound generator and high-resolution graphics. You have the facility to support separate data files. You have a choice of storage capacities (governed by the amount of RAM). 16K of RAM (which you can uprate later to 48K of RAM) or a massive 48K of RAM. Yet the price of the Spectrum 16K is an amazing £125! Even the popular 48K version costs only £175! 

You may decide to begin with the 16K version. If so, you can still return it later for an upgrade. The cost? Around £60. 

Ready to use today, easy to expand tomorrow .

Your ZX Spectrum comes with a mains adaptor and all the necessary leads to connect to most cassette recorders and TVs (colour or black and white). 

Employing Sinclair BASIC (now used in over 500,000 computers worldwide) the ZX Spectrum comes complete with two manuals which together represent a detailed course in BASIC programming. Whether you're a beginner or a competent programmer, you'll find them both of immense help. 

Depending on your computer, you'll quickly be moving into the colourful world of ZX Spectrum professional-level computing. There's no need to stop there. The ZX Printer - available now - is fully compatible with the ZX Spectrum. 

And later this year there will be Microdrives for massive amounts of extra on-line storage, plus an RS232/network interface board.

1982 was also the year of the Falklands War, the year that the Queen woke up to find a strange man in her bedroom, Prince William was born, deelyboppers arrived, body-popping was first demonstrated on Top Of The Pops (see a newspaper article from 1983 here), Channel 4 was launched, CB radio, legalised in November 1981, was a huge craze, Madness sang "Welcome To The House Of Fun", and a young woman solved the Rubik's Cube whilst free falling from a plane...

17 April 2012

More About Acid House - What The Establishment Thought, 1988, And A 1989 Rave...

This is Acid House 1988... still stirs the blood and gets me moving... how far we'd come from Adam and the Ants, Bad Manners and Madness...

Footage from a 1989 Rave...

House music was a brand new electronic music genre born in Chicago USA in the early 1980s (for those desiring a more specific timeline 1983 is often referred to as "Year Zero"). We got our first taste of House here in England in 1986 and, following hot on its heels, in 1988, came Acid House - with its attendant Raves and new drug culture ("What planet are you on?" "Planet Ecstasy"...).

The only drawback with ecstasy - or E as it was known - was the chance that it could do you serious harm or even kill you if you happened to pop a bad one! It was a small risk, but still off-putting to many people. Mind you, the music and atmosphere of an Acid House rave could still be enjoyed without popping anything!

The distinctive Acid House sound came from the Roland TB-303 Bass Line synthesiser, which was first released in 1982.

Acid House had the establishment seriously rattled - the bloody kids were acting up again - and saw bitter rival football fans peacefully dancing and chatting together under the effects of ecstasy.

What the tabloids and elders thought... BBC news footage from 1988. The stance taken by the BBC in this clip seems as impartial as the stance the organisation took (and still takes given half a chance) towards Reagan and Thatcher! Didn't they interview anybody in favour of Acid House?!

More '80s Actual Acid House here.

16 April 2012

Only Fools And Horses

An historic TV listing page from the Sun, 8 September, 1981... The very first episode of Only Fools And Horses is about to be broadcast. Unfortunately, I was hooked on The Flame Trees of Thika, and missed it!

From the Sun:

David Jason blunders into a world of birds, bets and shady deals as the star of a new comedy series tonight.

The funny little man from A Sharp Intake Of Breath plays fast-talking fly-boy Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools And Horses (BBC1, 8.30)

But his deals never seem to come off.

The title of the seven-part comedy series sums up Trotter's philosophy - work is only for fools and horses.

Trotter, a South Londoner, has a younger brother and aged grandfather to support.

He holds a deeply felt conviction that someone somewhere is making an easy fortune and that sooner or later he will do the same.

Jason says: "Trotter feels that because he doesn't take anything out of the State he doesn't see why he should put anything back.

"He doesn't believe in paying any tax he can avoid."

Jason, a bachelor, has a country cottage in the Home Counties, where he writes radio shows.

In tonight's programme, Trotter buys a cargo of executive brief cases - only to find he cannot sell them because they are hot property.

 In 1980, BBC scriptwriter John Sullivan, having completed work on his previous TV series, Citizen Smith, was looking for a new project. Would a comedy set in the world of football set the 1980s alight? The BBC thought not, and they didn't like Sullivan's follow-up idea for a comedy centred on a street trader in London, either. But Sullivan persisted, and, with a little help from producer and director Ray Butt, won the day. The BBC commissioned a first series.

The working title for the new show was Readies, but the show's actual title turned out to be Only Fools And Horses. "Why do only fools and horses work?" was the question posed by the famous theme song (which took a little time to arrive), and Del Boy Trotter wanted to get rich quick. The title was highly appropriate.

John Sullivan was born in Balham, South London, in 1946, of Irish and English parentage. He grew up in a poor community, full of characters and comedy, as he later recounted. At school, he met the works of Charles Dickens and was never the same again.

As a young man in the early 1960s, John Sullivan had several jobs, including one in the used car trade. Interviewed years later, he said that during that time he met "a lot of villains, quite a rich seam to tap into later when I started writing. " In other interviews, he spoke of his need to break away from his poor background and make some money.

In 1962, Sullivan was hugely impressed by a BBC Comedy Playhouse production, featuring the characters of old man Steptoe and his frustrated son, Harold - desperate to break away from his grotty old dad and the scrapyard they ran. Sullivan was impressed by the drama and comedy in the show, and this would later influence his own work.

In the late 1960s, he started sending scripts to the BBC - but each one came back rejected. By the early 1970s, Sullivan was working as a plumber and still nursing ambitions to be a TV writer. He married Sharon Usher in 1974 and took an unusual route into the BBC for an aspiring scriptwriter - working in props, set dressing and scene shifting.  

At the Beeb, Sullivan met Ronnie Barker, who got him to write some sketches for the Two Ronnies, and the legendary comedy producer Dennis Main Wilson, who championed Sullivan's cause. The result was Citizen Smith making its TV debut as a series in November 1977. Wolfie Smith, lead character of the series and head of the Tooting Popular Front, was inspired by a man Sullivan had seen in a pub in 1968. Citizen Smith ran until December 1980. 

And so, we're back to the beginning of this article, with Sullivan finishing work on Citizen Smith in 1980 and looking for another series idea...

Sullivan drew extensively on his own background and life experiences for Only Fools... - Del's love of fancy foreign phrases, for instance, came from a man Sullivan had known when he was working in the used car trade when he was about seventeen years old, back in the early 1960s. Another inspiration for Del was the "fly pitchers" Sullivan had observed at various London street markets throughout his life.

Sullivan said that he wanted to reflect modern working class London - most series set in London seemed to take a rather nostalgic view of life in his opinion. The first series of ITV's Minder, which had a modern London setting, had not troubled the ratings but the 1980 series, tweaked and with more comedy added, saw Arthur and Terry beginning to take a grip on the viewing public's affections. Sullivan worried that his territory had now been covered, but later wondered if the success of the tweaked Minder may have influenced the BBC in saying yes to his idea for Only Fools And Horses.

How it all began... Del Boy ("Lovely jubbly!"), Rodney (bit of a plonker!) and Grandad of Trotters Independent Trading Co - New York - Paris - Peckham.

Filming of series one began in May 1981. The first episode was transmitted on BBC1 at 8.30 pm on 8 September that year.
It didn't do great trade with the viewers, but within three years Only Fools... was one of the most popular shows on the telly.

Del Boy Trotter (David Jason) and his younger brother, Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst), lived in a flat at Nelson Mandela House, Peckham, with their grandad (Lennard Pearce).

Del was a highly lovable character - his "get rich quick" schemes (he even flirted with a yuppie image having seen the film Wall Street in the late 1980s!) could not disguise the fact that he was really just a silly dreamer - and his love of his family was obvious. When Rodney left home after an argument in the very first episode, Del's facial expression on his return spoke volumes. No words were needed.

Grandad immediately leaving his armchair to prepare Rodney a meal (another plate of salmonella and chips?) also spoke volumes. Here were three characters who often grated on each other's nerves, but who loved each other dearly. Del had brought Rodney up from the age of six after their mother died. We later discovered that Del and Rodney were actually half-brothers, and that Rodney was not even a blood relative of Grandad, but nothing could dent the unity of the Trotter family. They were more of a family than many of the 2.4-children-with-same-parentage variety.

David Jason began his acting career in the 1960s. He partly based Del Boy's mannerisms and dress sense on Derek Hockley, a builder he had worked for as an electrician before becoming an actor.

When actor Lennard Pearce died in 1984, Grandad died too, and Only Fools... began to move away from the traditional sitcom mould by including genuinely sad scenes which moved many people to tears. A touch of pathos had been a sitcom ingredient for decades, Sullivan himself spoke of being influenced by the 1960s sitcom Steptoe and Son as we've already mentioned, but Only Fools... moved things on further, blurring sitcom with drama, serving to enrich and enhance the show and to move the show's characters beyond being mere comic devices.

To fill the gap left by Grandad, Buster Merryfield joined the show as the boys' Uncle Albert.

The Trotters and their friends at the Nag's Head became people we liked, in some cases perhaps even loved, and cared about.

My step-father was often mistaken for actor Roger Lloyd Pack, Trigger in the series. He was even interrupted whilst having a pub lunch by a couple wanting his autograph! Of course, in such high esteem did my step-father hold the brilliantly brainless character Trigger and indeed the entire series, he was chuffed to bits!

Only Fools... was sheer magic... favourite scenes? Too many to mention!

The show has won various awards and has been named the best UK sitcom ever in a viewers' poll.

I suspect it might be.

But it was so much more than a sitcom.

Cheers! Nag's Head regulars in the 1980s: Trigger (Roger Lloyd Pack), Rodney (or should that be "Dave"?) (Nicholas Lyndhurst), landlord Mike (Kenneth MacDonald), Del Boy (David Jason), Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield), Boycie (John Challis) and Marlene (Sue Holderness)

1985: Happy Days For Emmerdale Farm...

From the TV Times, 6-12 July, 1985. Some interesting soap predictions can be found under 2000 - a watch-this-space odyssey.

The serial is heading for greater days yet. In September, after its summer break during which some regions will see selected repeats of programmes, all ITV regions will finally be showing the same episode on the same day...

Synopsis for 9 July 1985.

Amos the bee-keeper!

Alan Turner on horseback and the programme synopsis for 11 July 1985.

Seth and Jenny - the donkey which ran amok at Beckindale's 1985 village fete.

15 April 2012

What Are Your Ultimate 1980s Icons?

Scroll up, please, and vote on this pressing issue of the day!

What makes you immediately think of the 1980s? Certain clothes? Music? Toys? Games? News stories? Inventions? Technology? Telly? Let us know - you may select more than one answer!

Sons And Daughters: Fiona, John, A Bunch Of Flowers And A Rubik's Cube...

Fiona Thompson (Pat McDonald) struggles with a Rubik's Cube and the arrival of John Palmer (Peter Phelps), a man wanted for murder...

Sons and Daughters may have had a slightly tangled plot, but this Aussie soap also had us "Poms" on the edge of our seats when it made its TV debut here in England in 1983...

Well, some of us...

1982: Fiona Thompson wishes that her life is as simple as the Rubik's Cube she has been trying to solve. In 1962, Patricia Dunne and David Palmer booked into her boarding house, where Patricia promptly gave birth to twins, John and Angela. Patricia takes Angela and moves in with businessman Gordon Hamilton, becoming first his housekeeper and then his wife.

In 1982, Fiona still runs her boarding house in Sidney. Her tenants at this time include Bunty and Thel, an elderly pair of former tarts. The pair appear in an episode or two early in the series, and Bunty's voice is heard on Fiona's answerphone a little later. From then on, despite mentions of these characters many years into the show's run, the two remain absent from the screen. Very odd...

However, I'm getting sidetracked - let's return to the main story: in 1982, John seeks Fiona's help as he has been accused of a murder he did not commit. He meets and falls in love with Angela, not knowing that she is his twin sister. Angela and John discover the truth and struggle with their feelings for each other. Angela marries David's step-uncle, Rob, embarks on an affair with a man who has just inherited a fortune, has a miscarriage, and opens a coffee shop. John and Angela then discover that David isn't actually their father. Their real father commits suicide.

Meanwhile, David has married Beryl Keegan and they have two children, Susan and Kevin. Susan's husband turns out to be a murderer and Kevin marries the girl next door, Lynn Hardy, before going deaf after being blown up in Saudi Arabia.

Patricia plots, schemes and leaves husband Gordon, who marries nice widow Barbara Morrell. Barbara later discovers that her first husband is actually still alive. Patricia marries Barbara's brother, Stephen, but it doesn't last.

Adored as "Pat the Rat" in Australia and by afternoon telly viewers here, English-born actress Rowena Wallace created a legend. Sometimes neurotic, usually scheming, Patricia was an utterly compelling soap character. In this scene, husband Stephen has told her to start acting like a normal human being for once - or their marriage is over. Patricia has responded by turning sepia. When Rowena Wallace left, Belinda Giblin became the new Patricia, thus ensuring that the character could scheme (brilliantly) until the very end of the series. Rowena returned towards the end as Patricia's twin sister, Pamela.

Patricia finds herself in peril when she is accused of the murder of Luke Carlyle, a young man who has just embezzled millions of dollars from her company. The murderer is actually Beryl's neighbour, teenybopper alcoholic Jeff O'Brien, but he accidentally burns the house down, killing himself in the process, before he can confess.

Luke's father, Roger Carlyle, believing that Patricia murdered his son, sends a slimy surgeon to kill her, but Patricia escapes and flees the country, returning with a new face, height and voice, and a new name - Alison Carr. Alison sets out to clear Patricia's name, but Roger discovers that she is Patricia and, still believing that she killed his son, sets out to have her killed again. He then follows Luke's route out of the series by being murdered himself. I forget who did it.

Alison's fingerprints later prove she is Patricia and she is arrested for Luke's murder. The taxi driver who could give evidence to get her off the hook has just been knocked down and killed after a gun siege at the boarding house run by Fiona, and Patricia's step-son, Wayne Hamilton, has the only piece of evidence that will save her. But he hates her.

Meanwhile, Fiona discovers that her son, Scott, believed to have died as a baby, is still alive and is now called Terry. He has just raped Fiona's best friend, Jill Taylor. Jill has just got over the shock of discovering that her mother is not really her mother, and vows never to forgive Terry for raping her, but Fiona develops maternal instincts when Terry is blinded after blowing up some trees.

Jill announces she is expecting Terry's child, but marries an Irishman she doesn't really love so he can stay in the country. She is soon widowed, and is on the verge of marrying Wayne, another man she doesn't really love, when her first husband, who is actually not dead at all, turns up at the church.

Beryl and David split up, but Beryl becomes pregnant by him and falls down a mineshaft. David believes the father is Jim O' Brien, the uncle of the teenybopper alcoholic murderer.

Confused? Try watching it...

The Poll Tax

An anti-Poll Tax poster from early 1989. The introduction of the Community Charge or Poll Tax in England was set for the 1st of April 1990, and in 1989 we were not taking the news lying down...

The 'father of the poll tax' was a Scotsman called Douglas Mason. It was his brainchild. Even as the unrest raged over the new tax, he stuck by his claim that the Poll Tax was fairer than the old rates system. The Secretary of State for Scotland, George Younger, was a fervent admirer of the tax and fought for it to be introduced in 1989 in Scotland. Why should his country wait for England and Wales, he 'reasoned'?

From Don't Register, Don't Pay, an information sheet circulated around Cambridge, England, December 1988. For full details, click on image above.

What is the Poll Tax?

At the moment, each household pays a domestic rate which varies according to where you live. From 1st April 1990, the Community Charge, better known as the Poll Tax, will replace the rates.

Each person over the age of 18 years will pay a Poll Tax of around £300 per year in the Cambridge area, regardless of your income and whether or not you can afford it. Even people on State Benefits, students and those receiving State Pensions will have to pay 20% of the Poll Tax (Student Nurses will have to pay the full rate).

Join the Fight Back

Together we can stop this unfair tax. A group of people are meeting regularly to organise opposition to the Poll Tax. You can contact them at the address below, or simply come along to the meetings.

Meetings take place at The Bath House on Mill Road at 7.30pm on alternate Mondays, commencing 2nd January 1989, then 16th Jan, 30th Jan, 13th Feb... etc.

Similar meetings were taking place up-and-down the country.

Back to the information sheet...


Registration starts in May this year. An army of canvassers will be calling at every house in the country between April and October. Don't be tempted to take on a job as canvasser, and don't allow your friends to become involved either.

LET'S PUT A SPANNER IN THE WORKS leaflet (Campaign Against The Poll Tax Resource & Information Centre, Leeds), early 1989.


Poll Tax attacks the less well-off, community services, local democracy, and our civil liberties.

We must convince the Government that it cannot go ahead with the Poll Tax.


If Britain were invaded, a network of local Resistance groups would be formed to make life difficult for the enemy.

We need to defend ourselves against the Poll Tax enemy. Join your local group.

A few resistance tips from the leaflet...


Before you can get a Poll Tax bill, there has to be a Poll Tax Register.

Before there can be a Register, the Registration Officer has to get a "responsible person" for each household.

The Officer will send a form to someone in your household he thinks is the "responsible person". He may even have filled in the names of people he thinks live there. He wants you to check and sign it.

DON'T SIGN IT. SEND IT BACK with some questions:

Why was I chosen?

What will be my duties?

How can I appeal against being chosen?

You are perfectly entitled to ask these questions.


In some areas, canvassers will call. They will want you to give information on residents in the household. They will get a bonus of 40p for every form they get filled in.

Only the "responsible person" can be required to give information. Ask the canvasser to return when the "responsible person" is home.

Of course, there is no law to say that you must answer your door if someone knocks.

Some areas have plans to alert all residents if Poll Tax canvassers appear. A bell or a drum or a loud-hailer stands ready...

I attended this Anti-Poll Tax Campaign Benefit on the 1st of April 1989 - a year before the planned introduction of the Tax.

The Poll Tax issue was a bone of contention which would take us into the new decade.

1981: John McEnroe - "You CANNOT Be Serious!"

Heeere's Johnny!

American John McEnroe ended Björn Borg's record run of victories at Wimbledon in 1981 and ended up in hot water with the All England Club for some temperamental outbursts. We, the viewing public, were delighted. "You CANNOT be serious!" we parroted and "The Ball was IN!"

The Sun, 6/7/1981:

Superbrat John McEnroe stormed out of Britain yesterday after an amazing final insult to Wimbledon's top officials.

He snubbed the traditional champions' dinner at London's Savoy Hotel... and went out celebrating his men's singles triumph with friends instead.

His absence angered All-England Club chiefs - and women's champion Chris Lloyd made a blistering attack on him when she spoke at the dinner.

She told the guests: "I have to make two speeches, one for myself and one for you know who.

"I do not have the vocabulary and as an American I wish to apologise for him."

McEnroe already faces fines of up to £7, 375 for his tantrums and bad language during Wimbledon fortnight - and his final insult could bring HIM a snub.

His non-appearance will be discussed by the All-England Club today and they may well decide not to grant him honorary membership which Wimbledon champions usually receive.

McEnroe is understood to have been angry because he could not get tickets to Saturday's dinner for friends - and decided to have a party of his own.

He was in a happier mood earlier when he phoned his blonde girlfriend Stacey Margolin in America.

She said: "He called me after the final and said 'I showed them'. I'm so delighted for him."

But McEnroe was Superbrat again at London's Heathrow Airport as he barged angrily past photographers on to a New York-bound Concorde.

This article from the Daily Mirror, 17/11/1981, reveals that John was in the cart again...

... tennis spoilsport John McEnroe, fined £350 for his ill-mannered display at Wembley on Sunday, was flying home to New York feeling sorry for himself.

The 22-year-old Wimbledon champion said at Heathrow Airport: "I felt all alone on the court, as if everyone was against me.

"It gives you a reason not to want to return." But he added: "I'll be back for Wimbledon."

In more recent years, I've enjoyed listening to John commentating at Wimbledon. He has a sense of humour about his past, a keen eye for the tennis and is a welcome visitor to the All England Club.

I love to see him on the telly - I feel I've watched him grow from lad to man!

14 April 2012

1983: Gender Bender Boy George Bends The Dress Code Rules...

From the Sun, November 23, 1983:

Top London hotel, Claridges, have broken their century-old "tie and jacket" tradition so that Boy George could take tea in his customary dress.

Officials bent the rules when flamboyant George arrived for tea with brilliant American comedienne Joan Rivers. Glamour boy George was dressed in a smock and headband. Told he was not wearing the correct tie and jacket, George replied cheekily: "I've got a very nice button-up smock jacket and my tie happens to be round my head."

The doorman was left speechless while George joined Joan for cream tea and cucumber sandwiches in her £155-a-night suite.

Joan's aide told me: "They got on like a house on fire. They bitched about everything from Marilyn to Barry Manilow."

Fun-loving George later took Joan to see a Wham! concert, and she invited him to appear with Joan Collins on her top-rated US chat show, "Tonight".

A spokesman for Claridges said later: "Guests are always required to wear a tie and jacket in the public rooms.

"But as he was in a private suite, we relaxed the rules."

The Beiderbecke Affair: Which Way To Aristophanes Street?

Jill Swinburne (Barbara Flynn) and Trevor Chaplin (James Bolam) break away from San Quentin High to go in search of Aristophanes Street...

It was a mysterious platinum blonde, selling mail order door to door in aid of the Cubs' football team, that drew local school teachers Jill Swinburne and Trevor Chaplin into a web of intrigue. Jazz enthusiast Trevor ordered a set of Bix Beiderbecke LPs from her. When the wrong records arrived, he set out to right things...

The trail initially led to an address in Aristophanes Street, but the mystery deepened when Trevor and Jill discovered that Aristophanes Street has been demolished just before they arrived...

And, in 2011, this led to an e-mail to '80s Actual from Chris:

I've been reading about Aristophanes Street, Leeds, on the Secret Leeds site, and wonder if it actually existed outside of the Beiderbecke Affair TV series of 1985. Have you any information? The street sign featured in the series looks very authentic.

Janey, the mysterious platinum blonde (Sue Jenkins)...

Aristophanes Street, Beiderbecke Land.

Alan Plater, the man who gave us the Beiderbecke Trilogy, invented Aristophanes Street, Chris. The street sign seen in The Beiderbecke Affair was created especially for the show. The Beiderbecke Affair was filmed in 1984 when some slum clearances were taking place in Leeds, and the production team selected one doomed road to pose as Aristophanes Street, filming there just after it was pulled down, with a derelict shop still standing on the corner to hold the sign.

Detective Sergeant Hobson (Dominic Jephcott) and Big Al (Terence Rigby) with some files.

Trevor discovers something rather sinister.

Read our main Beiderbecke Trilogy features here.

Designer Stubble


From the Sun, October 4, 1986.

Workers were bristling yesterday over their bosses' ban... on trendy stubble beards.

The firm's younger fellas - who copy Wham! star George Michael's hairy style - have had to take the decision on the chin.

Some have been handed razors or sent home when they arrived at the Goodson lampshade factory in Hixon, Stafford.

Management claim five-o-clock shadows give a bad impression to visitors from customers like Marks and Spencer.

Managing director Phillip Goodson said yesterday: "We have high standards. It's disrespectful."

Some of the lads called in their factory inspector to see if the razor ruling was legal.

But they were told management was entitled to expect workers to look smart.

One employee, who did not want to be named, complained: "You can still look smart with a bit of shadow. It's trendy."

was, in fact, very trendy indeed to look slightly unshaven in the mid-to-late 1980s. This look came to be known as "designer stubble" and was actually a cultivated style designed to make the stubbled-one look wonderfully macho. It was a look that was popularised by George Michael in Wham and Don Johnson in Miami Vice. I tried it, but ended up looking like a seedy villain.

My mate Steve tried it, and looked absolutely great (or so he said), but he came unstuck at work at Sainsbury's. Dazzling all the housewives as a front-of-house check-out operator, Steve was one day spotted by the evil store manager, who took him straight off the till and sent him to work in the store's warehouse for the rest of the day. That was the end of Steve's stubbled phase. Humping boxes and crates around simply was not his style.

20th Century Words by John Ayto, describes designer stubble thus:

noun (1987): a short bristly growth of stubble on a man's unshaven face, worn for a carefully groomed yet rugged and masculine appearance...

The book quotes a Guardian article from 1989:

Designer stubble of the George Michael ilk has also run its bristly course.


Mind you, it's back in fashion now!

Via The Log Lady: A Twin Peaks Series Script From 1989

Welcome To Twin Peaks! Scene from the opening credits - filmed in 1989 and included in the 1989 self contained ending video release version.

Margaret Lanterman - aka the Log Lady - played by Catherine E Coulson, communes with her log.

Little town of secrets - rich widow Josie Packard (Joan Chen) was having an affair with Sheriff Harry S Truman (Michael Ontkean). But was she really a widow? Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) was dispatched to the town in February 1989 to investigate the murder of Home Coming Queen Laura Palmer. Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) schemed and plotted.

I was jealous to the max when a pal of mine recently chortled: "I've got an original Twin Peaks script, used by Catherine E Coulson, the Log Lady herself!"

I was slightly mollified when he told me I could scan or photograph the script, and I even contemplated the idea of starting a '90s blog to write about it. Then I discovered that - oh joy - the script dated from 1989! As this is '80s ACTUAL and we like to feature actual 1980s artifacts, it belongs here!

In our main Twin Peaks article, we covered the series's origins in the late 1980s, the pilot film, which was produced in early 1989 (most of which was used for the series pilot and dream sequences in the show), the fact that Angelo Badalamenti wrote the music in '89 and that production started on the first series, but I must say I'm surprised how far that work went. My pal's script is for episode five of series one, and dates from November 1989!

I was even more surprised to discover that the script for episode six, by Harley Peyton, was also written in November 1989.

Anyway, my pal's script was written by Mark Frost (Hill Street Blues), who co-created Twin Peaks with David Lynch.

A quick hunt around the Web reveals that a revised first draft script for the 1989 pilot film (originally to be called Northwest Passage) dates back to December 1988, and the script for episode one of the series dates back to July (first draft) and August 1989.

I hope you enjoy the photographs below! All I can burble is "WOW, BOB, WOW!" and "Damn fine coffee!"

Agent Cooper discovers little Audrey Horne in his bed at the Great Northern Hotel...

Highly confidential!

Drafts of the episode five script - and a note from Catherine E Coulson!

Agent Cooper regrets leaving his Ear-Pillow Silicon Ear Plugs behind!

Tasty, Tasty, Very Very Tasty Bran Flakes, Kellogg's Super Noodles And More...

Two ads from 1982 - "Tasty, Tasty, Very Tasty" Bran Flakes and "make mealtimes really new" with Super Noodles.

We've already written about the changing eating habits of the UK public in the 1980s elsewhere on this blog (here). We've examined the wonders of the F-Plan Diet, pasta as an exciting range of dishes, bottled water, courgettes, peppers, the thrill of fancy fillings in baked spuds, star fruits, savoury rice and turkey sausages. We've "humphed" impatiently at nouvelle cuisine and giggled afresh at the Weetabix skinheads. We loved our '80s grub - particularly in the mid-to-late decade when so much changed. And, of course, the 1980s were the era of the foodie!

Memory often plays food writers tricks. 1960s innovations the prawn cocktail and Black Forest gateau only reached the humblest of the humble working class folks in the 1980s. It was around the early 1980s (once more, I won't rely on the Web) that prawn flavoured cocktail crisps were launched and, although I couldn't abide the dish they were based on, I couldn't get enough of the crisps!

The '80s also gave us those lovely Hob Nob biscuits, and the early part of the decade saw Pot Noodles in the ascendancy. Not sure of a UK launch year for these, and won't rely on the web, but I do know they were becoming all the rage and bombarding us with lovely new flavours in the early-to-mid 1980s. And, of course, there quickly followed the imitators (remember Snack Pot? "We put the Snack before the pot"? We do!).

Pot Noodles were becoming the thing to snack on by 1981. We were no stranger to food we needed to re-hydrate, but the idea of re-hydrating then eating straight from the pot - no need for washing up - appealed to many of us and seemed very revolutionary indeed.

This leads me to a personal recollection of mine concerning a school mate (let's call him Steve). Steve had a big fat belly, and used to chortle and say:"That's my beer belly!" Macho nonsense of course - he didn't drink alcohol. He seemed happy being a big lad, until 1981 when, with leaving school staring him in the face, he suddenly decided to become "fancyable". The opposite sex had been steering well clear up to now, and so Steve launched a strict diet to reduce his wobble factor.

One lunchtime, I went to Steve's house to eat my paste sandwiches and have a cuppa with him. He lived just a couple of streets away from our school, so always went home to lunch. It was the time when the Rubik's Cube and illegal CB radio were the big fads (CB was due to be legalised in November '81, but a slackening of controls in the run-up saw the illegal craze running wild) and we discussed these, and then, having reached his house, Steve introduced me to his latest ally in his own personal inch war - a Pot Noodle. This was his lunch, he told me proudly. Zilch calories compared to his usual midday four paste sandwiches and bowl of soup nosh-up.

He prepared his Noodle, I munched glumly on my paste sandwiches. And then it happened. Steve fetched a tub of marge from the fridge, and began to ransack a previously unopened loaf of white bread which had been sitting innocently on the dining table. As if in a trance, he dunked slice after slice of bread and marge in his Noodle, in between slurping it down, and by the time he'd finished there were two slices of bread left in the packet (I checked).

"STEVE!" I gasped. "You're doin' your diet no good at all, mate!"

"'Course I am, Andy," Steve chortled. "Pot Noodle 'n' a couple of slices of bread for lunch... What's wrong with that?"

On the way back to school, he bought himself a Marathon - "That Pot Noodle ain't quite fillin' the gap. One bar won't hurt!"

By altering his usual lunchtime food intake as part of his stomach-reducing diet, Steve had ended up eating loads more than he usually did. I gave up.

The '80s changed my diet tremendously, and there's no doubt I began eating a lot better. Those courgettes, those peppers, those fancy baked potatoes, that carrot cake were delicious!

The supermarkets suddenly seemed to erupt with affordable goodies.

But, of course, whilst scoffing up the carrot cake, meeting real sausages for the first time, indulging in all those fancy salad dressings, and experimenting like crazy with veg and pasta, being a young man about town there were many times when I desired the quick and simple solution to what to have for dinner.

Matthew's turkey sausages, savoury rice and tinned green beans were a mainstay, as were those scrummy mini-pizzas from Bejam. And Bejam did small cube sized blocks of bubble and squeak! Heaven!

"Make Meal Times Really New", said the Kellogg's 1982 Super Noodles ad featured at the top of this post, and I adored them, once more with sausages and green beans. If you overcooked the noodles slightly, you could let them cool a bit then have them in a sandwich. Delicious!

Last week, my wife and I went to our local supermarket thinking about the Big Hair decade. The pasta ranges seemed vastly smaller compared to the mid-to-late 1980s when doing things with pasta was so new and exciting in this country, and we couldn't find a single packet of wholemeal pasta which, in the era 1986-1989, would have been cause for outrage.

A Tesco magazine advertisement from December 1984. Pasta was just becoming exciting in the UK.

We spotted some Super Noodles, tucked away, and suddenly decided we'd have an '80s convenience meal. Sausages and green beans went into our trolley and, that night, we tucked in. Lovely! And so nostalgic...

After the meal, instead of me dashing around showering and gelling my hair and getting myself done up like a dog's dinner for a night out, as I had back in the '80s, I sat in my armchair, with my middle aged spread, and gently drifted off to sleep - which is the norm nowadays.

It all seemed a bit sad. 21st Century Andy can revive '80s food, but 21st Century Andy is not '80s Andy - with all his youthful vigour and dodgy fashion sense - and '80s Andy is not coming back...

Never mind. The memories are very sweet. We'll definitely be having Super Noodles again.

Alternative Comedy: The Young Ones

Tucked away in the TV pages of the Sun, 31/10/1981, was some interesting news about telly comedy. TV writer Charles Catchpole traced off-beat telly comedy back to Monty Python, which had begun in 1969. And of course that was inspired by The Goon Show, which had first aired in the 1950s. In the early 1980s "alternative comedy", anarchic, left-wing, proto-PC and generally a breath of fresh air, blasted onto our TV screens...

Jimmy Gilbert, head of light entertainment, has commissioned a try-out show for a possible series to be called "The Young Ones".

It promises to be one of the boldest ideas ever tried on telly. It will mix situation comedy, revue humour, fantasy and rock music.

The idea for "The Young Ones" was born out of the success of three off-beat shows - "Boom Boom Out Go The Lights", "Three Of A Kind", and "A Kick Up The Eighties".

It will star Rik Mayall, 23, alias Kevin Turvey of "A Kick Up The Eighties", as a down-at-heel student, sharing a flat with three friends.

Other parts will be played by three of the most promising of Britain's young comedians - Ade Edmundson, Nigel Planer and Alexei Sayle.

Edmundson is Rik Mayall's partner in an act called 20th Century Coyote. Planer is half of a double act known as The Outer Limits.

Rik Mayall, who is co-writing the show, says: "We will try to get permission to use Cliff Richard's song "The Young Ones" as the title music.

"But if we can't, we'll get a really dud group to record a crummy new version."

From the Daily Mirror, 9/11/1982:

A new comedy team hits the screen tonight. But be warned... this will be no innocent comedy romp.

It involves four outrageous characters living together as squatters in a derelict house.

They're a pretty shocking mob and their behaviour - and their language - is likely to upset older viewers.

But it's the younger TV audience they're aiming for with "The Young Ones" (BBC2, 9pm).

Rik Mayall, Ade Edmundson and Nigel Planer, who all worked at London's notorious Comic Strip club, team up with actor Chris Ryan to make the foursome.

Alexei Sayle, another of the Comic Strip's star comedians, plays their dodgy East European landlord.

Some BBC bosses were worried about the show at first, saying the comedy was crude and too near the knuckle.

Producer Paul Jackson says: "We were taking a big chance. When the first script was submitted, no one was quite sure if it would work."

But I think it's the most exciting new comedy we've done for years."

Rik Mayall, who devised and helped write the scripts, says:

"We had to cut certain words from sketches because they were considered too naughty by the BBC.

"We are not trying to push censorship back. But when you use swear words in normal life, and then you're not allowed to use them on TV, it's difficult to understand."