30 August 2012

What Does The Term "New Wave" Music And Fashion Mean? Is It A Meaningless "Catch All"?

Charlie writes:

I love 80's Actual and would like to ask you something. What on earth was New Wave? I've read reams about it, and it seems to be applied to so many different forms of music and fashion in the 1980s, especially in America, whilst some people have the view that it means bog-all. What's your view, Andy? I'm confused!

Well, to me, "New Wave" music and fashion spanned from about 1978 to about 1980/81, with other things happening alongside. I always view "New Wave" as being, primarily, the revival of 1960s Mods and Rockers culture in the late 1970s. Throw in a little Blondie, one or two kookie odds and ends, plus the 1979-1981 ska revival, and you're about there as far as I'm concerned. "New Wave" was never an individual music genre in itself. I did not regard the late disco scene, Punk, New Romantics or synth pop as New Wave.

I'm not sure how UK music journalists of the '80s felt about it, but I fail to see how such a nebulous term can be applied to the diverse range of music and fashions which dominated that decade - it certainly could not, in my opinion, be applied to the whole or even half of the 1980s as some on-line sources now claim.

Nowadays, some people do seem a little obsessed with trying to slot things into convenient categories, it seems tremendously important for some reason, but I don't see the point. For me, the 1980s music scene was about disco (very early on), the ska revival, synth pop, gothic rock, New Romantics, indie, soul, the emergence of hip hop, the creation of house and acid house music, the beginnings of modern dance music, and the "rave" culture - amongst other things. It also included music I simply termed "pop".

As for America, I think things were rather different there and how they applied the "New Wave" term is not something I know a great deal about. 

Great to hear from you, Charlie. Glad you like the blog and I hope you keep reading.

29 August 2012

1980s Autumn/Winter Wear For Men - Get Some Knitwear!

Les has written:

I'm having an 80s fashion revival, and am seeking inspiration for autumn/winter wear. I know jackets with pushed up sleeves were all year rounders, and I've been experimenting with some shell suit inspired stuff too, but what to wear if autumn/winter are cold?

Well, Les, go for knitwear. The 1980s adored knitwear.

Look at on-line auctions for distinctive 1980s designs - there are bargains available, all of which could only come from one decade! There are also loads of '80s inspired fashion items in the shops and on-line. Since last year, I've been wearing a splendid array of wonderful short sleeved tops, often grey with colourful trims, usually with different coloured lapel and sleeve trims (take a look at the sleeves on the jumper pictured!). I've been loving the return to my youth. Well, if only I COULD return to my youth, but it's good to feel in-tune with fashion again!

Great to see so many young women in 1980s style smart jackets with turned back sleeves, so many '80s-inspired hairdos, stubble beards, colourful trainers, mirror sun glasses, stone washed and acid washed jeans and even jelly shoes. And, of course, black '80s style leggings have been back for around ten years...

For your '80s autumn wardrobe think dressy, think striking, think colourful meets grey or black. Get the knitwear, continue to push up those jacket sleeves (oh, and men often wore turn back sleeves too), Gel that hair and strike that pose and you'll definitely be evoking the spirit of the "style decade". Enjoy and have fun.

26 August 2012

Desperately Seeking Susan, Griffin Of The Midland Bank And The One And Only Frank Sidebottom...

Madonna was definitely one of the biggest "movers and shakers" of mid-to-late 1980s pop music. I went to see her in "Desperately Seeking Susan". I can't remember much of what the film was about, but I still love the featured track (and hit single) "Into The Groove" - complete with "urgent '80s break beats". I read that last bit in a record review. I can never think of clever, informed things like that to write. Shame.

Richard Briers was the voice of Griffin - and what a lot you got if you signed up with the Midland - "the Listening Bank".
Frank Sidebottom was... well... rather strange. He appeared on things like No 73 and, if my memory serves me well, once attempted to mend the lawn mower for his mother. 

He failed, and tried to flush the incriminating bits and pieces of mower workings down the loo.
He also made Frank's Firm Favorites.

Sadly, Chris Sievey, the man behind Mr Sidebottom, died in 2010. Read our tribute to Chris and Frank here.


A-ha's Take On Me was a great song which was accompanied by a very innovative video, linking animation with live action. In retrospect, an unexpected bonus is the "Nice Cold Ice Cold Milk" advertisement on the cafe wall in the video. Remember the full slogan? 

"Milk Has Gotta Lotta Bottle - Nice Cold Ice Cold Milk!"

The Gotta Lotta Bottle ads began in 1982. More here.

Ah, nostalgia!
Help - I'm getting sidetracked!

In the Take On Me video plot, a young girl was swept off her feet by a dashing young man straight out of the comic strip she had been reading. In the final scenes, the man, played of course by A-ha lead singer Morten Harket, struggled to manifest himself in the real world to be with his love. And succeeded.

But it was only temporary. The video to follow-up hit The Sun Always Shines On TV briefly returned to the girl/comic strip hero scenario to reveal that the guy could not maintain his existence outside the pages of the comic. He fled from the girl, and appeared to explode into nothingness in the distance (perhaps returning to his fictional state?), leaving the girl heartbroken.

The A-ha lads, Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Pal Waaktaar, revealed a few facts about themselves in a 1986 interview...

"We got together in the summer of 1982 but the object was to come to Britain from day one," remembered Morten."We got some songs together, did some recording in a cabin in the woods and left for England on 2 January 1983."

The three of them expected to be snapped up by a record company and they hoped to have a summer hit single that year. But nothing happened.

Eventually they ran out of money so Mags and Morten went back to Norway to work and raise more money before heading back to England.

The three of them eventually became so poor that they could only afford a single light bulb in their tiny flat. But they stuck it out and in the end got a recording deal.

Their debut single "Take On Me" flopped the first two times it was released here. However, after making it to Number One in the American charts it became a hit all around the world.

Even though they have been so successful, Mags says they haven't changed. "We have no great ambition. We just live day to day."

24 August 2012

Roland Rat, Kevin The Gerbil And The Rat Fans - "Yeeaaah!"

Born in a sewer at King's Cross (some say that he was actually created, voiced and operated by one David Claridge, so believe what you will), Roland was the rat who helped to save the good ship TV-am in 1983.

He's seen here on both sides of his picture disc Rat Rapping - "High class music for discerning rodents". He was a class act (still is, check him out on Facebook!) and the ultimate '80s superstar.

I was keen on Kevin the gerbil too. Loved that pink bucket! And then there was the delectable Glenis the guinea pig and the leek-loving Errol the hamster.

Inspired '80s TV fun!

The very lovely Kevin the gerbil - pictured here with his pride and joy pink bucket - got a taste of the limelight in 1984 with the release of his own single - Summer Holiday. Kevin was, and still is, Roland's Number 1 fan. He hails from Leeds and, despite a tendency to panic, and sometimes even faint, under pressure, is a valued pal of the great rat.

 Kevin the gerbil strikes a pose in the wonderfully posey mid-1980s.

Roland was also a badge star - here he doesn't drop litter and advertises his own spaghetti shapes in 1987.
Love this - Kevin the gerbil money box.
Roland Rat really was the ultimate '80s superstar. I found all this in a 1984 mail order catalogue - Roland Rat and Kevin the gerbil jigsaws, a stencilling kit, Roland, Errol the hamster and Kevin the gerbil toys and your very own RATMOBILE!

I must say, however, that the idea that the "big bad 1980s" was the first decade to target kids as consumers is nonsense. When I was little, the big thing was "The Magic Roundabout" - and the memory of the amount of merchandising available still boggles my mind today!

Article Updated 25/8/12

22 August 2012

The Golden Girls - Thank You For Being A Friend...

Starring Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty, American comedy series The Golden Girls began in 1985, and made its way to our Channel 4 in 1986. The creator was Susan Harris, who had previously given us Soap, the hilarious spoof soap opera, and its excellent spin-off, Benson

The initial idea came from an NBC skit in August 1984 of that brand new cop show, Miami Vice. The skit was called Miami Nice and centred on some, well, let's be PC and say "mature" people living in Miami. From that tiny acorn grew the mighty oak tree of a sitcom called The Golden Girls. The show, it was said, broke new ground, portraying older women as something other than housewives, battleaxes or husband poisoners. There is a Feminist subtext to much of what has been said about the show, which always portrays women as being 'done down'.

The show was also highly topical - featuring story-lines on such "taboo" subjects as HIV, homosexuality and sperm banks. 

Susan Harris commented in the late 1980s: "At 82, Cary Grant could still have been a romantic lead, but a woman over 50 was cast as an axe-murderer. I had to write Golden Girls. It shows women can be attractive and have romances after 50."

Hmmm... a romantic lead at 82? An axe murderer? Easily disproven. Once again, Feminist posturing here, but the show's strength is that it took ordinary-looking people (apart from Blanche, of course, who was devastatingly gorgeous. I hope the cheque's in the post, Blanche) and showed that life doesn't have to stop at fifty.

The Golden Girls was the story of Southern belle Blanche Devereux, who let rooms in her home to three other women - grief counsellor Rose Nylund, school teacher Dorothy Zbornak and Dorothy's mother, Sophia Petrillo - previously of the Shady Pines Retirement Home.  

According to the background story, Sophia had spent a year at Shady Pines before the series began, it had suffered a fire in 1985, and she had arrived to set up home with Dorothy, Blanche and Rose at the time of the pilot episode. Although Shady Pines was never seen on screen, it was mentioned in most episodes and Sophia never let her daughter forget that she had "put her away" there.

The four main characters had widely contrasting personalities: Blanche "liked the men" and was as vain as could be; Rose was loving, dim-witted and occasionally prissy; Dorothy, a not-so-gay divorcee (and not quite free of her ex-husband, Stan), was champion of the witty (but crushing) remark; Sophia was sharp tongued and wasn't above robbing her daughter's handbag. Not a very likeable bunch? Wrong - excellent writing and absolutely brilliant acting turned these creations into four of the best loved TV characters ever. For a start, the girls cared about each other, and underneath the surface bitchery warm friendships flourished - in fact, here we had an alternative family set up.

 TV Times, 1988.

Sophia and Dorothy, mother and daughter, cared deeply for each other, but their relationship was spiky. Sophia called Dorothy "Pussycat", and once told her she had given her the nickname because she loved pussycats. And also because Dorothy was the only one of her children who could catch mice. Sophia sometimes despaired of Dorothy's dateless state, and Blanche often made fun of her, but ultimately Dorothy was the only Golden Girl who found a new life partner, marriage and happiness.
Sharp wit, health and social issues, cheesecake and, above all, the friendship between the four main characters powered the story-lines.

 The girls have a night in with the TV in 1987. It was in 1987 that they nearly went their separate ways, seeking group therapy as they were getting on each others' nerves so much. It was Sophia, famous for her tall tales of herself in years gone by (beginning each tale with something along the lines of "Picture it, Sicily, 1922...") who came to the rescue with some up-to-date pearls of wisdom:

Sophia: Picture it. Miami, 1987. A house. The only one in the neighbourhood without a pool. But I digress. Four women, friends. They laugh, they cry, they eat. They love, they hate, they eat. They dream, they hope, they eat. Every time you turn around they eat.   

Rose: Sophia, are those four women us? 

Sophia: Look in the mirror, blubber butt. The point I'm trying to make is what's going on here is living. Just because you have some rough times doesn't mean you throw in the towel. You go on living. And eating. 

Rose: I'll get the cheesecake. 

Blanche: I'll get the whipped cream. 

Dorothy: I'll get the chocolate syrup. 

As it turned out, Blanche was going to fetch the whipped cream from her bedroom, so this culinary treat did not appeal to the others, but, whilst on the surface Blanche was sometimes selfish and always sex hungry, the character had hidden depths. She deeply mourned her husband, George, who had been killed in an accident in the early 1980s, and whilst she genuinely adored sex, she was also searching for another George amongst her many gentlemen friends. Sadly, she never found one.

 The show became a comedy legend and is often repeated to this day. It was originally broadcast on Friday evenings when I was usually out, but I caught one or two episodes and became so hooked I finally rented a video recorder!

Rose, of course, hailed from a certain small town in Minnesota and her stories of that place, often beginning with the words "Back in St Olaf..." usually bored or puzzled the others rigid whilst becoming a favourite feature of the show for viewers (any one for herring juggling?). Here's my favourite St Olaf story, as told by Rose, with interruptions from Dorothy, in 1989:
Rose: Gunilla Olfstatter was a nurse at Cedars of St. Olaf Hospital. One night she was taking care of Sven Bjornsen, and he asked her if she would get him some more mouth moisteners and then kill him. Gunilla brought the mouth moisteners right away, but the killing thing, it seemed to go against everything she'd been taught!

Dorothy: You're doing beautifully, Rose. 

Rose: He begged and he begged and by her coffee break she couldn't stand it anymore, so she pulled the plug and he died. Well, she was wracked with guilt that night. Not only had she parked her car in a doctor's spot, but she was never sure whether Sven's pleading was the pain talking or the medication talking or the guy in the next bed talking. You see, the guy in the next bed was Ingmar Von Bergman, St. Olaf's meanest ventriloquist. 

Dorothy: Rose, we are going somewhere with this, aren't we? I mean, if not, I'm gonna cut out your tongue. 

Rose: Yes! Sven came back to haunt Gunilla. Since then, every Tuesday night at ten - nine Central -  

[Dorothy bangs on the table with frustration] 

Rose: ...she hears noises. Some say it's the wind, but some say it's Sven's voice whispering back from the other side, saying: "Turn around, quick! His lips are moving!"

21 August 2012

The Roller Disco: Taking A Tumble...

The Janet Frazer autumn/winter 1984/5 catalogue brought us some snazzy roller boots - and a dramatic scene from the local roller disco where young Gary Bagnall came a cropper to the distinctive strains of I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me by that rascally popstrel Nik Kershaw.

Said Gary: "I'm awright - dead tough, me - I watch the A-Team."

Said his sister Sharon (also pictured): "I can't take 'im anywhere. 'Ere, put that camera away - I haven't got me gel on."

Roller Discos were an absolute wow in the early-to-mid 1980s. Everybody from Wired For Sound popstrel Cliff Richard to my two grotty little sisters simply had to be seen trying to avoid falling on their bums whilst whizzing around to the likes of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart or Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax.


I suppose they thought it was fun.

But I bet it wasn't half as much fun as Stella Artois.

Probably refreshingly cheaper though.


20 August 2012

Kajagoogoo - Ooh To Be Ah

The eccentrically named Kajagoogoo hailed from Leighton Buzzard and London, England. Kajagoogoo was formed after three members of a band called Art Nouveau - Stuart Croxford Neale (keyboards), Nick Beggs (bass guitar) and Jeremy Strode (drums) - advertised in Melody Maker in 1982 for a new lead singer

 Good looking, talented singer/songwriter/frontman, looking for musicians to form what should be a successful band, influences: Japan, Yazoo, Soft Cell... no Des O'Connor fans.

Christopher Hamill was their man and he was known as Limahl - an anagram of his surname. After a showcase gig, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran (SCREECH!! go the Duranies) requested a demo tape of the band's work and this led to them being signed by EMI in July '82.

Kajagoogoo didn't last long (though they have reformed in recent years), but they left behind some memorable and wonderfully 1980s hits. Below you'll find one of my favourites - 1983's Ooh To Be Ah...

The '80s were slowly beginning their upwardly mobile path, and the video is a joyous reminder of all that - the clothes, the hair... and with guest appearances from actor Christopher Timothy and the ever so zany Kenny Everett, well, anything more would have been greedy. 

Use the song words at the top of the post to join in:

Ooh to be ah  jet setter, be ah head start...

Very evocative.

And I'll add my very own additional  heartfelt "Ooh":

Ooh to be eighteen again!

I was in 1983... 

18 August 2012

Home Decor: Living Rooms To Die For - 1980s Style!

Black was the colour... highly popular for furniture in the mid-to-late 1980s. Argos catalogue, spring/summer 1989.

In the 1980s, there was something of a revolution in home decor. Rather than follow mass trends, many more people wanted to be individualistic and felt it was important that their homes said something about them and, most importantly, their lifestyle. The '60s, despite its reputation for being thoroughly modern, had a passion for Victoriana and the 1920s. The '70s had continued many of the '50s and '60s trends whilst exhibiting a strong hankering for retro of all sorts.

In the mid-1980s, with credit booming, we asked ourselves would our home be ultra modern? Or antique effect? Black became hugely popular (remember black ash and those black tables, corner units and so on?). TV casings joined the black trend in the late 1980s as the old wood effect finally said farewell. Other coloured TV casings were available in the mid-1980s. Cloth bottomed and backed directors' chairs (very Hollywood!) in black or bright colours became household furnishings (it was all so stylish!), and futons became mega. In the decade of yuppies, it was appropriate that vertical boardroom blinds appeared at house windows.

Black ash effect lounge unit and a sofa bed - Argos, 1989. The black, grey and red patterning is incredibly 1980s!

Some people were overly grandiose. A friend of mine, living in an ex-council house, had a huge chandelier suspended from the ceiling in her miniscule lounge. Window blinds became narrower and were highly popular in black or red. Standing up-lighters - particularly with black supports - became a wow, and wall up-lighters swept back late in the decade, in antique or modern stylings. Once again, the watch word was style, darling!

In the 1980s, we stripped out the darned awful wallpaper which had blighted the '70s (those designs dated back to the late 1960s anyway) and went for pastel colours or strange slanting striped wallpaper which made your eyes go funny. My mother bought some particularly awesome wallpaper for the lounge circa 1984: it showed part of the interior of what appeared to be some sort of castle, with an archway, some stairs and a window repeating all over it. It was grey and white. LOVELY!

Index catalogue, 1989.

Does anybody else remember the mid-to-late '80s trend for having a light suspended from the ceiling low over the dining table? It gave things a faintly "gamblers' den" appearance and I'm sure many decor buffs thought it the height of style. Well, I remember going to dinner at a friend's house circa 1987. There were three of us there and we had been having a political discussion between courses. I recall that the topic of conversation was Ronald Reagan. I got up to go to the loo, conversing quite passionately (politics provoked passionate feelings in many of us back then!) and, waving my arms about as I'm apt to do whilst conversing passionately, I became entangled with the light shade, denting it, causing the bulb to fall out, and setting the shade swinging furiously.

Stylish the "gamblers' den" lighting might have been, but practical it was not - particularly if you wanted to encourage spirited conversation at your dinner party! 

Kids in Donkey Jackets...

Fashion '83: this ad, which I found in the local newspaper archive, stirred fond memories - although my donkey jacket was not tartan-lined.

You can't have it all.

Donkey jackets were for boys AND girls - beginning around 1982 and continuing into 1983. This is a 1983 snap of two dedicated followers of fashion.

Remember the girls'-only trend for having their names printed on the back of their donkey jackets?


The '70s revival of the '60s scene brought about the creation of bands like the Jam, the film Quadrophenia and a revival of Mods and Rockers style. 1979 saw a ska revival bubbling up in the charts. Although Ska was a revival, the groups had a very turn-of-the '80s attitude.

A band which had had two very brief incarnations as The North London Invaders and Morris And The Minors became Madness in 1979 and were very much part of the ska revival scene when they first charted in the September of that year.

Madness soon brought us their very own "Nutty Sound", incorporating elements of ska, fairground music and other things. The Madness logo seen above seemed to be everywhere in the early 1980s.

The band launched themselves on the brand new decade with gusto - and were the first band to appear on Top Of The Pops in 1980, performing My Girl on 3 January.

From the Daily Mirror, 6 May, 1980:

Sheer Madness! Nutty Band Drive The Fans Crazy

Madness are a crazy gang of cheerful loons who live up to their name.

Their outlandish brands of lunacy drive the fans barmy.

And that bouncy, ska-type music - the "nutty sound" they call it - has shot the odd-ball group to success.

Their album "One Step Beyond" has sold more than half-a-million copies.

The seven-man outfit from North London used to waltz on stage doing the "nutty train", a ska-type conga. Now they have a new trick - the "nutty pyramid", with all the guys hanging off each other. They've nicknamed themselves "The Flying Fellinis".

Nuttier still, says Chas Smash, was the group's Spanish version of their hit single "One Step Beyond".

"We heard a Spanish group was going to do a cover version so we thought we'd get in first. None of us can speak Spanish but we learned the words for that."

Chas, 21, was a fan who used to jump on stage and bop away.

They couldn't get rid of him - so he was drafted into the group.

Now he's the leaping, lunatic resident dancer.

Madness got together as a group two years ago.

It all started as a bit of a giggle - something to do on a Saturday night.

In those days most of the guys were musical novices.

Lead singer Suggs - real name Graham McPherson - had such a lousy voice he was kicked out of the band at one point.

Gradually they got better - and persistence paid off.

It's all got beyond a joke now. People actually take the group seriously.

They finish their current twenty-date British tour on Saturday.

Then it's off to Europe for another tour, back here for more dates, and then into the studio to record more nutty sounds.

It just shows what can happen when you take a joke seriously!

Madness did not subscribe to Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall theory that school teachers were out to subdue and mould their charges. Suggs thought that his teachers had found school as much of a drag/challenge as the pupils. So, in 1980, the band came up with Baggy Trousers.

Loved it. Still love it.

All together now: "All the teachers in the pub, passing round the ready-rub, trying not to think of when that lunchtime bell will ring again!"

Talking of school days, Madness saw me through the final years of my compulsory education, and out into the world of work.

Those early '80s school days seem a very happy time. In retrospect. Rubik's Cubes and fags in the bike sheds. Young love and Adam And The Ants. And our gorgeous year tutor. She was a highly attractive and witty woman. And when I meet with old schoolmates now we're still known to drool at the memory of her.

Her wit was legendary. One hot summer's day, she requested that somebody open one of the windows in the classroom. Usually known for my sluggishness (and greasy hair and zits) I flew to do her bidding. Said Mrs B: "Good heavens, Andrew, you'll have a leg fly off behaving like that!"

On another occasion, in the fifth year, my mate Chris came in sporting a large love bite.

Said Mrs B, as she passed us in the corridor, "I'd kill that ferret of yours if I was you, Chris!"

Happy days. Lots of laughs at school. And then home for gloriously unsophisticated grub like sausages, instant mash and baked beans and then Crossroads...

Our House In The Middle Of Our Street...

From the Sun, 16 October, 1981:

Madnificent seven can't miss

By Nina Myskow

MADNESS may be nutty, but they are certainly not daft. Our Baggy Trouser boys are no red-nosed clowns.

No band can score with NINE consecutive hit singles and just be a bunch of buffoons.

Because that is exactly what the seven-man North London band have achieved.

Their single, Shut Up (Stiff), is the ninth Top Twenty hit in a row. Their new album, Madness 7 (Stiff), is perched solidly at No 5. They just cannot miss. So what next?

Lead singer Suggs, 20, says: "You just write the songs, record 'em, release 'em and they go up the charts. Failure is the only thing left!"

Their career is now taking off in another direction - into films.

On Wednesday, "Take It Or Leave It", the story of their early years, was premiered at the Gate Three Cinema in Camden Town. Their local.

The boys put up half the money for the film, £250,000.

And, after the mad movie, thee was a family knees-up in the Dublin Castle, the Camden pub where they first found fame - and shot the final scene of the film.

The boys loved every moment of the nutty nonsense.

Suggs said: "A year ago, we got a bit tired of all the silliness. People expected us to behave like idiots, sort of on-tap loonies. We struggled against it, but in the end we realised that people must take us as they find us."

I find them smashing. They haven't changed a bit from the day I first met them almost two years ago.

Lee Thompson, for instance, is unlike the average wealthy star.

Not for him the flashy Rolls-Royce. Instead, a pushbike.

Thompson says: "I could get a maid to do my washing and that, but I don't want it. You could get lazy like that. I like to wash my own socks."

Suggs says: "The film is based on fact. It has been exaggerated and dramatised a bit. but that's how it was. The only slight problem was that only a certain number of non-Equity members were allowed to act. Some of our Mums and Dads and friends are played by actors and actresses, which is a shame.

"Our work is fun. We love it - as long as the music goes on getting better and better."

And as long as they go on having fun they'll keep on going. The Magnificent, MADnificent Seven.

There was a trend in the early-to-mid 1980s for covering jacket lapels with badges - tiny button badges were particularly popular. Favourite subjects were pop groups (I was a Madness freak), Rubik's Cubes, CND, Greenpeace and slogans like "The Only Good Tory Is A Lavatory".

Our brilliant Nutty Boys simply couldn't help churning out classics. House of Fun, that wacky tale of an attempt to make an important first purchase at the chemist's, was Number One in the pop charts when I left school in 1982. Years later, Suggs described Madness as "The Fagins of the schoolyard," and certainly the band was extremely popular with me and the other lads down at the local comp. We continued to follow its glorious pottiness avidly after we left, too.

In 1982, I walked through the school gates for the last time and out into the big wide world. Memories of the time are surrounded by a strange fairground-type aura, probably courtesy of Madness being at Number One, and their lyrics being on everyones' lips, and deelyboppers, which arrived at the same time!

Deelyboppers - bonkers fashion for 1982! 

Thoughts of Madness bring back happy memories. And their lyrics weren't always simply nutty. Remember Embarrassment?

If you're a Madness fan, you probably find that their lyrics can pop into your head at any moment. I do. Only last week, I managed to make several pretty large errors at work. My colleagues frowned. My colleagues scowled.

And for the rest of the morning I was singing to myself: "Now pass the blame and don't blame me..."


15 August 2012

The BIG 1980s Quiz

"'Ere, just 'ow well do you remember the 1980s?" asks Lou Beale of early EastEnders fame. The character was only in the series from 1985-1988, but the memory still lingers...

Test your knowledge of this fast moving and dramatic decade with our quiz. The answers can all be found within this blog and are also listed at the bottom of this post, together with a fun guide to how you rate as an '80s expert.

1) Who ate cannibals in 1982?

2) An illegal craze of 1980 and 1981 was legalised in November 1981. What was it?

3) Who advertised Everest Double Glazing in the 1980s?

4) Which famous BBC soap opera began in February 1985?

5) An obscure Hungarian toy was renamed and re-manufactured in 1980, and became a huge craze. What was it?

6) Hello! Which computer was released in early 1984?

7) Invented by an Englishman in Switzerland in 1989, this has had a massive effect on computing ever since. What is it?

8) You put them on your head in 1982.

9) An election in 1980 altered the course of the decade. Who and where?

10) Often referred to as a brick, this was unveiled in America in 1983 and hit the UK in 1985. What was it?

11) Beattie's grandson got a what in 1987?

12) Which small creatures from a vegetable abode invaded the UK in 1983?

13) Fill in the blank: "Just one titchy bit of toast, we've gotta put 'em straight - we're the ____."

14) Which popular music genre was born in Chicago in the early 1980s?

15) "Shiny, shiny, bad times behind me..." - who sang that?

16) Which exciting new car hit the road in 1985 and got a big thumbs down?

17) What game did we pursue in 1984?

18) Which pop star had his handbag stolen in 1984?

19) The Queen had a bedside visitor in which year - and who was it?

20) The Scotch video tape skeleton ads debuted in 1983. But in which year did the skeleton sing "re-record, not fade away"?

21) Which alien from the Planet Drill made his earthly debut in 1987?

22) Who was responsible for making "walkies!" a popular catchphrase?

23) Which new TV channel came to our screens in November 1982?

24) What was the call sign of Inspector Jean Darblay of Hartley Police Station?

25) Bob presented a popular TV quiz show featuring teenagers from 1983 onwards. What was his surname, and what was the show?

26) Rik Mayall and Nigel Planer appeared in which alternative comedy, beginning in 1982?

27) Which group of people were going to live forever - they were going to learn how to fly?

28) What were the upwardly mobile set called in the 1980s?

29) Sonny Crockett of Miami Vice had an unusual pet. What was it, and what was it called?

30) In which year did the ZX Spectrum arrive?

31) Short-lived English soap opera of the mid-1980s set on a market.

32) Who made the blokes go "phwoar" at Twickenham in 1982?

33) Which famous arcade game character made his debut in Japan in 1980?

34) What did George Michael choose as a T-shirt slogan?

35) Complete the lyrics: "The first cut won't hurt at all, the second only makes you wonder, the third..."

36) What was Roland Rat's gerbil pal called?

37) The first space shuttle, which had its maiden flight in 1981, was called what?

38) If there was something strange in your neighbourhood, who were you gonna call?

39) Who did Joan Collins play in Dynasty?

40) Jill and Trevor got involved with the Affair, the Tapes and the Connection in which mid-to-late '80s TV trilogy?

41) Ethel, Harry and Dawn lived at which house?

42) Del and Rodney lived in a block of flats called?

43) Which group of American senior citizens ate lots of cheesecake in Miami?

44) A disaster in 1986 caused radiation levels to rise across Europe. What was it?

45) When was the first London Marathon run?

46) In which year did Brighton Nudist Beach open?

47) Which popular diet was published in 1982?

48) When did the Berlin Wall come down?

49) Which alien was stranded on Earth in 1982?

50) The BIG fashion trend of the 1980s.


1) Toto Coelo; 2) CB radio; 3) Ted Moult; 4) EastEnders; 5) The Hungarian Magic Cube was re-manufactured and became Rubik’s Cube. 6) The Apple Macintosh; 7) The World Wide Web; 8) Deelyboppers; 9) Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States; 10) The hand-held cellular phone; 11) An Ology; 12) Cabbage Patch Dolls; 13) Weetabix; 14) House Music; 15) Haysi Fantayzee; 16) The Sinclair C5; 17) Trivial Pursuit; 18) Marilyn; 19) 1982 - Michael Fagan; 20) 1985; 21) - Gilbert; 22) Barbara Woodhouse; 23) Channel 4; 24) Juliet Bravo; 25) Holness - Blockbusters; 26) The Young Ones; 27) The Kids From Fame; 28) Yuppies; 29) An alligator - Elvis; 30) 1982; 31) Albion Market; 32) Erika Roe; 33) Pac-Man; 34) Choose Life; 35) “…will have you on your knees”; 36) Kevin; 37) Columbia; 38) Ghostbusters; 39) Alexis; 40) Beiderbecke; 41) Number 73; 42) Nelson Mandela House; 43) The Golden Girls; 44) Chernobyl; 45) 1981; 46) 1980; 47) The F-Plan; 48) 1989; 49) ET; 50) Shoulder Pads

How You Rate:

0-10: Were you not born? A tiny wee kiddie? Asleep? Living it up too much to observe the details of life?

11-20: Several squares short of a Rubik’s Cube. You don’t get a seat on the board.

21-30: You’ve certainly got the big hair, but not the shoulder pads. In fact your performance is a little on the Cabbage Patch side.

31-40: Well, my pretty good guy or guyess, twang those big red braces and make free with the hair gel. You’re going places!

41-50: You’ve got it all - the Rubik’s Cube, the ZX Spectrum, the docksiders, the deelyboppers, the designer stubble, the braces, the shoulder pads, the shell suit, the leggings, the jelly shoes… In fact, you’re absolutely tubular!

The Human League

The Human League arrived - first hitting the Top 40 in May 1981 with Sound of the Crowd.

The original Human League had formed in 1977, and there were several changes in line-up (two of the original members who left in 1980 later formed Heaven 17) before the vast majority of us discovered a rather different version of the group which came together in 1980.

One of the pivotal moments in the band's history was when vocalist Phil Oakey asked Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall (then school girls aged 17 and 18) to join, having spotted them dancing at The Crazy Daisy Nightclub, Sheffield, in October 1980.

Oakey was faced with the highly difficult task of recruiting new band members within a matter of days when he spotted Susan Ann and Joanne.

The girls were originally recruited as "guests" to the group, to dance and provide incidental vocals on a European tour. Many fans of the obscure original Human League group were disgruntled to see the dancing girls, expecting the original all-male line-up. Legend has it that thrown beer cans and some heckling was the result.

But, despite this, on returning to England in December 1980, the girls were made full members of The Human League.

The band gave us a distinctly unseasonal Christmas Number One in 1981 - Don't You Want Me.


I love the Human League. If I hear one of their early-to-mid 1980s hits, I'm transported back... I can smell the hair gel, see that jumbled Rubik's Cube sitting smugly on the settee, hear the Space Invaders and Pac-Man machines burbling, feel the tensions of O' Levels and job hunting and the happiness of becoming a wage earner...

It's not just nostalgia. I think that the Human League are brilliant - then, now, forever.

12 August 2012

On Sale: Technology For 1980 And 1981...

The Tandy Electronics Catalogue, 1980-81, provides rich pickings for those wishing to relive technological memories of the first two years of the decade...

"Realistic prices"? Well, they were back then!

Love that wood effect surround - a popular feature on electronic gadgetry since the 1960s.

Note that the cheapest radio cassette recorder was £44-95 and the most expensive £129-95. Even the lowest price was a pretty serious cash layout for many people back then.

Radio cassette recorders were objects of desire for me and my mates in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Personal stereos were invented in 1979 in Japan, and although a few arrived here in 1980 under the name "Sony Stowaway" I'd never heard of them and couldn't have afforded one if I had. They weren't cheap and my family were very short on the dosh.

Ghetto blasters were further down the 1980s road, and so the big thing, the wonderful, sophisticated technology to own in 1980, was a radio cassette recorder. It took some saving for, but I convinced my parents that it would be tremendously economical in the long term. Just think of the benefits - no more buying records, you could just tape them off the radio. Actually, this wasn't as straight forward as it seemed as most DJs liked to "rabbit" over the intros and endings of the songs they played and so it was difficult to get a decent chunk of music, but we persevered and were happy with what we did get.

My radio cassette had a condenser microphone, so more fun could be had by making parodies of the BBC's radio soaps, Waggoners' Walk and The Archers.

"Oh gosh! Mr Tyson's fallen down the stairs! One must phone for an ambulance!" or "How dare you, Mr Gabriel, I'm a respectable woman, now are you going to eat those flies' cemetaries, or aren't you?"

We made dozens of episodes, with continuing storylines and daft cliffhangers.
Was it fun?
We thought so!

Tony Blackburn advertises Plustron in a newspaper ad from September 1980. 

Love those "new for '81" cuddly radios! 

The Tandy AM Space Radio... the personal stereo did not arrive in England until 1980, as stated elsewhere in this post, but this was an interesting alternative. The lady appears to be enjoying herself...

Radio controlled fun... Vroom, Vroom!!!

We weren't allowed to use calculators at school. I was already quite familiar with the little perishers from TV appearances, but when I first handled one at work in 1982, I was initially a little flummoxed!

The TRS 80...
Many developments were to take place in the 1980s which would bring computers into our homes and transform our lives, but in 1980 they were for boffins, Dr Who, ERNIE and making mistakes on your utility bills.
The TRS 80 looks a bit like a microwave oven to me. Microwave ovens, although first marketed in the 1960s, were something else that I had never clapped eyes on back in 1980. Way out of our price range.
Early in the 1980s, a cafe in my neighbourhood installed one for heating up food and the cry went out amongst us heathens: "It uses radiation! It'll kill you!"
By the end of the decade, microwave ovens were pretty much a part of everyday life - even my dear old mum had one! Read more about the 1980s microwave oven revolution here.

Wow - sophisticated moments - mind blowing technology...

10 August 2012

Albion Market Episode 103

 Dare you return to 1986 and the market place? In this episode, Sita is suspicious, Raju is afraid, Eileen is horrified, and Chan is terrified ...

The Story So Far... 

Eileen Travis has returned to England after a stay with her sister in Canada, determined to take control of her life. Her husband, Geoff,  is as yet unaware of her return and she is staying with Albion Market stallholders Lynne Harrison and Lisa O'Shea.

Lisa is still finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that her mother, Lynne, slept with her boyfriend, ex-market superintendent Alan Curtis. The gossip going around the market about her is also giving her grief as several people believe that her getting a stall was simply because Alan was "on a promise".

Lynne continues to clash with market hairdresser Viv Harker.

Carol Broadbent has returned to the market and requested a reference from her former employer, cafe owner Peggy Sagar. She has landed temporary work as an assistant on Lisa's classic clothes stall. 

Jaz Sharma is feeling exhausted after his recent traumas and no longer feels safe on the market. Simon Walker is worrying him. Is Simon planning something?

Both Miriam Ransome and Peggy Sagar have written to Brenda Rigg to try and find out how she and Larry are faring after being kicked off the market by Alan Curtis.

For Keith and Louise Naylor, married life is proving difficult. Keith's domineering mother is still causing problems and Louise has had a one-night stand after a boozy night out.

Derek Owen and Ly Nhu Chan have resumed their affair, but both are unaware that somebody else has discovered their secret. Chan has flu and is currently at home, confined to bed. But the "somebody" who has discovered her secret affair also knows where she lives...

And Now READ ON!!

"I can't put it off, Lynne," said Eileen. "It's time Geoff knew I was back!"

"I suppose so, it just took the wind out of me sails the way you came out with it last night," Lynne stirred her tea. "Will you go to the market?"

"No," said Eileen. "I don't want a public show. I'll go to the 'ouse tonight. I'll ring first."

"Will you stay there tonight?" asked Lynne. She drew on her fag. 

Eileen frowned: "Well... I don't know!"

"It's 'alf your 'ouse after all," said Lynne.

"It's my intention to move back in while we sort things out," said Eileen. "But not for a day or two, if that's OK with you."

"'Course it is, I reckon we're gonna miss you when you go," Lynne smiled. "Oh, and don't go lookin' for the last chunk of that meat pie you made, by the way. Lisa had an attack of the munchies in the night and crept down!"

"Ah, well, glad it wasn't wasted. An' tonight we've got spud 'n' cheese pie made out of left-over mash!" laughed Eileen. "I'll get some sausages to go with it."

Lisa came thundering downstairs, through the front room and into the kitchen, all ready for tea and toast. "I think you're dead brave seein' Geoff tonight," she told Eileen as she sat down.

"Well, a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do!" Eileen smiled. She didn't actually feel like smiling much, but she was determined not to be a miserable cow about things. She'd had enough misery. This was the new, positive Eileen Travis, taking possession of her own life... she could do it... she hoped.

"Good on yer!" cried Lynne. "Don't let the buggers grind yer down!"

"Did you come back last night?" Leaning against four pillows, Chan looked a little better than the day before. Derek had insisted that Lucazade was best for what ailed her, and she forced a little between her dry lips.

"No, why?"

"Oh, I thought I heard somebody outside the front door," said Chan, "but I had many odd dreams last night so I am not sure at all."

"Probably somebody goin' next door," said Derek. "As it was, I didn't actually 'ave to leave you quite so early last night as it turned out: Barbara was out when I got in - round at a neighbour's. She didn't get back till after ten."

"Oh," Chan closed her eyes. Truth to tell, she still felt wretched. "You get off to the market now, Derek - I will have Lisa here soon to see if I am fit for work, and then I must have some more sleep."

Derek gently kissed her hot forehead. "I'll bring you a tin of that cream of mushroom soup tonight," he promised. "It'll help if you can eat something. And do you have a contact number for Hoa?"

Chan smiled: "I think a lot of my cousin, Derek, but he is not a very good person to have around when there is sickness. It will be lovely to see him in a day or so."

"Okay, then. You gonna be all right?"

Chan nodded. "I will see Lisa and sleep some more. I may even listen to the radio for a while later. At the moment, it is just nice to lie here with the sun coming through the window."

Derek kissed her forehead again: "I'll be back tonight. Keep the fluid intake up, won't yer?"

Chan smiled and nodded slightly: "I will. Make sure the front door is properly closed when you go out, please, Derek."

Derek looked at her slightly curious: "Did you really hear somebody out there last night?"

"No, I think I was just dreaming. But it has made me think a little of security."

"Right then. I'm off," and with a further kiss, Derek left the flat.

Chan waited a moment, then got painfully out of bed. She went to the tiny hallway. Lisa would be calling soon for a health update, but until then Chan decided to draw the two bolts on the front door and put the chain on. She had had a restless night, and several odd dreams, but was almost certain that the furious hammering she'd heard at the front door just after Derek left was reality.

She shivered at the thought, and went back to bed.

Paul O'Donnell found it was no use trying to get information out of Peggy. It didn't stop him trying, but he was fast learning when to stop.

"Paul, one more mention of Carol and you're out!" bellowed Peggy. 

And that was that.

Paul hadn't had chance to catch up with Carol himself, and couldn't help wondering what she wanted with his boss after her departure from the cafe staff. He was fond of Carol, had found her warmer and funnier to work with than Louise, and cherished a hope that one day she would return to the cafe to work.

Today, Paul was in one of his dreamy, philosophical moods. Staring at the sizzling food on the hotplate, he declared: "I was reading this article the other day. It said the whole universe is an endless reflection of itself. I can even see it here. The egg is the sun. The burgers planets..."

"And what are them two sausages there?" Peggy asked, pointing. "Honestly, Paul, if the food in this cafe reflected the way you talk, we'd be servin' nothin' but tripe all day long! Now, get on with it - there's folk waiting!"

Pleased with her wit, Peggy turned to the counter to find Carol on the other side of it.

"Oh, mornin'!" she said. "You're workin' for Lisa again today, aren't yer?"

"That's right!" Carol smiled.

"Well, take a break around 11.30 if you can, I'll give you me decision about your reference then."

Carol noted that Peggy was still cold with her, but she now fully realised just how much she'd let her down and just how much Peggy had been hurt by it. "Okay, Peggy, thanks. Can I have a cuppa to take out on the stall?"

As Peggy poured the tea, Sita Sharma appeared, looking somewhat ill at ease.

"'Allo, love," cried Peggy. "What brings you 'ere?"

"Oh, I'm helping out on the stall," said Sita. "Jaz isn't well today."

"I thought he was looking a bit peaky yesterday," Peggy took Carol's money and made for the till. "There's a lot goin' around. Now, what can I get you?"

"Just two teas, please," Sita saw Carol: "Oh, hello! How are you?"

"Fine, thanks, nice to see yer, Sita" said Carol. "I'm sorry to 'ear Jaz is poorly. Tell 'im to get well soon from me, will yer?"

"I will," Sita smiled, paid for the teas, and left.

Carol looked thoughtful. Despite herself, Peggy found herself asking: "What's up?"

"Oh, it's nowt, Peggy, just 'opin' he's all right," said Carol. "He were sayin' yesterday 'ow tired he is after everything's that's 'appened."

"Well, that's only to be expected."

"Yeah, I know. See yer later," and Carol left, still looking thoughtful.

"The kettle's on the blink again," said Keith.

"Flippin' thing's worse than the last one. We've only had it three weeks an' all," said Derek. "Nip over to Peggy's an' fetch us a couple of teas, will yer?" He rifled his trouser pocket for change.

"Right," Keith got up.

"And by the way, things any better at home?"

Keith sighed. "Not really. Louise went out last night, second night on the trot, and never came back. Last time she turned up just before I left for work. Today, there were still no sign of 'er when I left the house."

Derek wondered how long the marriage would last. He'd gone along with it all, attended the wedding and the reception with a smile on his face, but he'd never been convinced: Louise was too hard, too immature, too manipulative; Keith too soft, too naive.

"Oh, well, everybody needs a night out now and then!"

"Yeah, but two on the trot? And her a young mother?"

"It's early days yet..." Derek found himself falling back on a cliché.

"I think it shows Louise won't change..." said Keith. "I'm not sure she can, Derek. Underneath, there's something... wonderful... but she's so hard on the surface... and I can't get through any more."

Derek didn't know what to say. "You'd better get us a couple of chocolate biscuits each with that tea. Looks like we'll need the energy."

"How's Chan?"

"A bit better than she was yesterday... Go on, lad, get the tea. No sense in broodin'." Keith left the office and Derek sighed. With his own life in such a ruddy mess, what right had he to give advice to his assistant?

On his way to the cafe, Keith saw Lynne Harrison, proudly doing a spot of dusting and sweeping around her stall. The novelty of having a permanent stall still hadn't quite worn off.

"Hello, young lover!" cried Lynne. "How's married life treatin' yer?"

Keith stopped, momentarily defensive, wondering if she was taking the mickey, but realised she wasn't.

"Things aren't that good, Lynne," he said. "Louise isn't gettin' on with me mother and she's taken to stoppin' out nights..."

"Oh, Keith, I am sorry!" Lynne was startled by the news. OK, she'd never believed that the marriage was going to last, but she hadn't reckoned on it cracking up this fast! "What's she playin' at?"

"I dunno... but out all night she's been the last two nights... I think she's got somebody else..."

Or several somebodies, thought Lynne, wondering if Louise had started up in her old profession again. "Sounds like you need to thrash things out," she said. "Some serious talkin' needs to be done if you ask me."

"Yeah... yeah... you're right... it's just that I never see 'er much... an' I feel frightened of what she might 'ave to tell me..."

"No sense in carrying on as you are. Things need sortin'," said Lynne firmly. "Take my word for it, Keith, buryin' yer head in the sand never works, cos sooner or later..."

"Yeah... yeah, you're right. I know you're right. If she's home tonight I'll tell her we've gotta talk..."

"You do that. If she thinks anythin' of you, and I think she does in 'er way, it won't be as bad as you think, an' it's all part of bein' a grown-up, facin' up to things and knowing where you stand."

"Yeah, ta, Lynne!" Keith went into the cafe with the vague glimmerings of a new resolve to try and sort things out beginning inside him.

Lynne sighed to herself and wondered if she'd ever be a grown-up.

Lisa bumped into Colette in the market yard. She had been out to the van to get some more dresses for her stall, and Colette, walking back to The Waterman's having paid a quick visit to the market for some air freshener, was on her way back. There had been rain in the night, but the sky was now a cloudless blue, and the warmth and the gentle breeze had dried the cobbles. Colette was looking up at the sky, her thoughts miles away...

She was thinking about Phil.

Phil, the father of her child

Phil, so far away down South.

Phil, the man who had told her it was all over when he found out she'd slept with his mate, Tony Fraser.

He'd spared no thought for how lonely she'd been without him, moving away from her old friends in Moss Side and into The Waterman's. Looking after Greg. Feeling so flaming isolated she could have screamed.

He'd spared no thought for just how persistent Tony Fraser had been, nor how vulnerable she'd been feeling.

Just told her it was over.

"Ooh, 'allo!" said Lisa. She indicated the can in Colette's hand: "Headin' for a floral moment are we?"

"Somethin's gotta lift the atmosphere in that bar!" replied Colette, with feeling, coming back to the here and now abruptly. "It's terrible first thing in the morning! Ted wouldn't bother, but it turns my stomach it does honestly! Stale beer an' fags!"

"Can't say I'd fancy it!" Lisa grinned. "Anyway, how are yer? And, what's more to the point, how's Sean?"

"Fine, as far as I know!" said Colette.

"And how well do you know?" Lisa dug. "When did you last see 'im?"

"A couple of nights ago," Colette began to smile. "But I think I won't be seein' too much of 'im in future!"

"Oh, why?"

"Well, he took me out to this lovely night club very 'in' - all black walls an' fancy lights and full length mirrors, and then spent most of the evening admirin' himself!" said Colette. "Honestly, if I caught him lookin' at himself once in them mirrors while we were dancin', I caught him a dozen times. And he kept nippin' off to the loo and every time he came back, his hair looked freshly brushed!"

"Male groomings all the rage," said Lisa. "Nothin' wrong with a fella takin' pride in his appearance. Better than some of the lads I've been out with!"

"Yeah... and I shouldn't be slaggin' him off, but it was a bit over the top all the same," sighed Colette. "Don't get me wrong, he's good lookin' and I love his fashion sense - dead Miami Vice. But he seemed a bit kind of... well... prissy to me. Kept talkin' about what he'd like to do with my hair!"

"Don't think he's gay, do you?" asked Lisa.

"No, in fact he's got a bit of a reputation for the women apparently," said Colette.

"Could be a put on, keep people off the scent!" Lisa grinned.

"I don't think so," said Colette. "I think there's only one bloke he's ever fancied - himself! No, I shouldn't talk like that. But he didn't do anything for me. Definitely not my type..."

"Oh, well, plenty more fish in the sea!" Lisa laughed.

"Yeah," sighed Colette. "But I'm not up to anything serious. Not yet."

"Thinkin' about Phil?" Lisa was sympathetic.

"Yeah, we were together a long time. An' Greg misses his dad. But it's over between Phil an' me. I just need some breathin' space."

"Sounds sensible," Lisa approved.

Colette took a deep breath: "Yeah. Thing is, I 'ad a letter from Phil this mornin'. He wants to meet up to talk things over..."

In the market superintendent's office, Keith and Derek were enjoying their tea and chocolate biscuits from Peggy's cafe. Derek was rewiring the kettle plug - it was worth a try -  whilst Keith sat quietly, and wondered.

Finally, he said: "Derek, Alan Curtis said we'd have a computer in here one day. Do you think we will?"

Derek sighed. The sudden increase in computers everywhere was not something he felt at home with, but he admitted: "It's almost a dead cert. Probably within the next five years. And we'll have everything on there and be able to communicate with the Town Hall through it an' all. It'll be like something out of Star Trek."

"And do you think we'll have a kettle that works?"

Derek sighed: "God knows!"

 "I hate working on the stall, Raju," said Sita. "I don't know the fashions these kids are after, don't know where to look on the stall for items, and generally I think I just hold things up."

"You don't, Sita, honestly," said Raju. "Tomorrow is busy - Saturdays always are - and today I have to go to the wholesalers and restock the jeans. Without you here, I couldn't cope."

"Mmm..." Sita sipped her tea.

"It's the family business, we must all chip in at times," said Raju.

"Oh, I know you're right," said Sita, sighing heavily. "All right, I'll stop moaning!"

"Good girl!" Raju kissed her on the cheek. "I'll have this tea, then get off to the wholesalers. I'll be back well before things get busy."

Sita nodded.

"Good morning, Raju, and hello to your lady wife."

It was Simon Walker, he seemed to have conjured himself up out of nowhere.

"Simon," Raju nodded guardedly.

"Hello again," the last time Sita had seen Simon had been just after the trial. She forced a smile now.

"Jaz not here today?" enquired Simon.

"No, he's a bit under the weather," said Raju.

"Oh, so much going around," cooed Simon. "And we can't be too careful, can we? Can't be too careful... No indeed...  Mrs Sharma," and he nodded at Sita before moving away.

Raju wondered... was there some sort of menace in Simon's words?

"...we can't be too careful..."

Had they been said rather heavily?

"That man gives me the creeps," said Sita, feeling suddenly chill and clasping her tea mug tighter for warmth. "He reminds me of an undertaker - an undertaker that thoroughly enjoys his job..."

Peggy sat down with Carol at a cafe table just after 11.30 to deliver her decision on the reference.

"I won't keep yer in suspense, Carol, I'll give yer a reference. It won't be the best reference in the world, but it should see to yer gettin' a job!"

Carol beamed at her: "Oh, Peggy, thanks! Thanks a lot! It'll make all the difference 'avin' a reference!"

"Well, it might not," said Peggy. "There's millions out there lookin' for work, yer know."

"Yeah, I know. But it still improves my chances."

"I still can't forgive what you did here, abusin' my trust an' everythin'," said Peggy. "But you're young. And judging by the way you're behavin' now, I think there's a chance you've learnt better. I wouldn't want to stand in the way of you gettin' started elsewhere. Now, I'd better get back!"

The two women stood. Unexpectedly, Carol leant forward and gave Peggy a smacking kiss on the cheek. "You won't regret it!" she said. "Thanks again!" and she went bounding out of the cafe.

Peggy found herself smiling as she watched Carol leave via the wharf doors to return to Lisa's stall. There was good in Carol. Peggy hoped the lass would be OK.

"I take it you're gettin' on better now?" Paul called from the hotplate.

"Well, I'm not takin' 'er back on 'ere if that's what you mean!" said Peggy.

"Brightens the place up though, Carol, doesn't she?" asked Paul, mournfully.

"Paul, we've two people waitin' for sausage butties, and if you don't get those sausages browned double quick I'll be brightenin' YOU up!" Peggy threatened. "Now GET ON WITH IT!"

Paul got on with it.

Keith heaved a sigh of relief as he hung up the phone in the market superintendent's office, just as Derek came in.

"That was me mother. She says Louise got in about half an hour ago. She's gone to bed."

"Oh, great," said Derek. "At least you know she's safe."

"Yeah," said Keith. "I 'ope she's stoppin' in tonight, Derek. We really need to talk..."

Raju had left for the wholesalers and Sita was having a visit from Sally Vickers at the Sharma brothers' stall.

"It's nice to see yer, love," Sally whined. "Not been 'ere for ages, 'ave yer? 'Ow are yer?"

"Oh, I'm well thanks," Sita couldn't even remember seeing Sally before, but politeness demanded she returned the question: "And you?"

"Not bad. Not bad. Indigestion playin' up again, but then I've been a martyr to that since I was eleven!"

"Oh, I'm sorry..."

"Oh, yes. But then I don't like to dwell. You didn't come to young Keith's weddin' reception the other week then?"

"No, I don't actually know him that well. Raju and Jaz attended though."

"Ooh, yes, I saw 'em there. I wasn't invited meself but I was in The Waterman's 'avin' a drink."

"Yes, I heard it was very nice," Sita wished this woman would go away. Her whiny voice and mean little eyes were not good to have around.

"Oh, it was, it was - the reception was lovely, for what it was. Not a marriage made in heaven, if you get my meaning. Nice to see your Raju gettin' on so well with Miss Harker, the new 'airdresser on 'ere. Very pally indeed. Talked for... oooh, at least a couple of hours and seemed very relaxed together. Did Raju know 'er before she came 'ere?"

Sita immediately saw what Sally's game was. Her face became hard and closed. "No. But I know Raju's interested in what's happening with the salon..."

"VERY interested," said Sally, pleased to see that her poison had gone in.

Fortunately, a young customer arrived at that very moment in search of stone washed jeans, so Sita was able to escape: "Yes, well, nice seeing you again. Goodbye!"

"Bye, love!" trilled Sally satisfied with her handiwork.

"So, Jaz is poorly, then?" asked Peggy as she poured two afternoon cuppas for Raju to take back to his stall.

"Well... tired, certainly... possibly a bit overwrought..."

"He ought to see the doctor - get a tonic..."

"Maybe...," Raju lowered his voice: "but I don't think it would do much good, Peggy. He says he hasn't felt safe here since the van went up, and he thinks Simon Walker may have something up his sleeve..."

"Simon?" Peggy raised her eyebrows in surprise. " Well, I've no doubt that man's as big a snake as Oliver was - bigger even, but whatever makes Jaz think that? I'd've thought Simon'd be keepin' a low profile on this market for a good long while."

"Jaz reckons Simon's been lookin' at him, following him around a bit..."

"Well, Simon LOOKS at everybody. Eyes like a dead haddock. You don't think Jaz might be feling a bit paranoid, do you?"

"I thought so at first... but now... I dunno, Peggy... Simon was at the stall earlier asking where Jaz was. I said he was poorly, resting, you know, and Simon said it was better to be safe than sorry... I may have imagined it myself, but I thought there was something funny in the way he said it... a bit...sort of... heavy. Maybe some sort of double meaning..."

"Meaning Jaz is safer off the market?"


Carol, who'd popped in for a doughnut and a coffee for her lunch, broke in: "I were talkin' to Jaz yesterday on the wharf. When he went back to the stall, I stood watchin' him in the doorway. Simon were standin' near Lynne's stall, you know, Oliver's old stall, starin' at 'im... it was creepy. Jaz kind of paused before walkin' on. He looked scared. Well, from where I were standin' anyway."

"Hmmm, I don't like the sound of that," said Peggy. She turned back to Raju: "Perhaps you should talk to Derek?"

"And tell him what? Simon's been going around looking at Jaz as he looks at everybody else, and said 'better safe than sorry' when I told him Jaz was poorly and takin' it easy at home?"

Peggy considered: "I see what you mean. Well, put the word around, Raju. You've got friends on here. I think Lynne and Geoff will be happy to keep an eye on Simon and I certainly shall."

"Yeah, maybe..." Raju looked decidedly unhappy. "But I don't want to CREATE trouble if there isn't any."

"No question of that," said Peggy. "Just tell 'em there might be nowt to it, but ask if they'll keep an eye, see if THEY spot anythin' unusual in Simon's behaviour towards Jaz or overhear anything odd. Simon does tend to go around muttering to people. I know he's careful - extremely careful, but you never know, one day Lynne or Geoff might be in earshot of one of his little muttering sessions. Or I might. If there is owt in the wind, one of us might pick up on it. I reckon it's wearing a belt and braces, mind, I don't think Simon would dream of starting anythin' after what's 'appened. Not for a good long while anyway. But you never know!"

Raju paused to think over what Peggy had said. The way Simon had been earlier worried him deeply. He was now sure there'd been an air of menace just below the surface of what Simon had said.

"... we can't be too careful, can we? Can't be too careful... No indeed..."

Raju made his mind up: "Perhaps you're right. I will talk to Lynne and Geoff, and perhaps to the Ransomes...!"

"And Colette too. Simon's often in The Waterman's," said Peggy. "If he IS up to somethin', and I can't for the life of me think what it might be, we need to find out what it is as quickly as possible and squash it!"

"I'll keep me ears open as well," said Carol. "I didn't like the look of what I saw yesterday at all..."

At one of the cafe tables, Debbie was enjoying her dinner hour with one of her old schoolmates, Mandy Binks. Mandy was a plump girl, currently attired in a large yellow jacket with shoulders like nissen huts, and a pair of pink trousers. In her large permed hairdo perched a huge blue ribbon, and overall she looked like a cartoon character.

"What do you think of 'im?" Debbie was asking.

Mandy glanced over at Paul, who was dishing up bacon at the hotplate, and sniffed: "Got eyes like a dog, en't 'e?"

"What, puppy dog, yer mean?"

"No, just dog! Looks docile to me. Not all there!" Mandy took a swig from her Coke can.

"He isn't! He's sweet... well, sort of!" Debbie defended her man.

"Got a right big nose on 'im, en't 'e?" said Mandy, spitefully. Truth to tell, she was jealous that Debbie had landed a glamorous job at a salon, whilst she was stuck at the local Co-op. And she wasn't going to praise Paul for anything.

"His face is full of character!" said Debbie.

Mandy changed the subject. "What's it like workin' on 'ere? I couldn't fancy workin' on a market!"

"Well, it's not as if I'm workin' a stall!" said Debbie. "No, it's dead borin'. Nothin' ever 'appens much. There's this bloke, Dermott Thornburgh, dead ugly, big cheesy grin, a right creep. Anyway, somethin' was going around about his underpants..."

Mandy raised an eyebrow, trying to look like Alexis Colby-Carrington: "Bit kinky, are they?"

"Well, I thought it might be summat like that," Debbie sighed. "But I finally got to the bottom of it this morning..."

Michelle spluttered as her coke went straight up her nose, and then fell back in her chair, helpless with laughter. Realising what she'd said, Debbie giggled herself. Then: "But it were dead boring really. Turned out he'd been selling Andy and Fergie union jack underpants on his stall for the Royal wedding, did a roaring trade in 'em, but most of 'em got brought back cos they kept comin' apart. There was uproar, apparently, some of the customers were threatening to report the market to trading standards... everybody were talkin' about it... but they'll talk about owt on 'ere."

"I thought you were gonna say he was a flasher or summat," Mandy sighed. Then, she smiled, evilly: "Jason's been in the Co-op askin' after you, by the way!"

Debbie shuddered. Big fat and spotty Jason Bagnell had haunted the last two years of her school career. She could see his spotty, doughy-looking face floating in front of her, and it quite put her off her sausage buttie for a moment. "Well, you can tell him I'm fine and definitely not available!"

"Aw, but he likes you!" Mandy enjoyed winding Debbie up.

"Don't be a cow!" said Debbie.

Mandy wondered whether to order a bacon buttie. She was still starving, even after having wolfed down two cheeseburgers, and the smell of bacon cooking was driving her mad. But she remembered her waistline and decided not to. Women had to suffer for their beauty, as her Aunt Lou always said. Mind you, she weighed sixteen stone...

"I tell you who is dishy," said Mandy. "That Sean you work with. Dead good lookin' - and so trendy!"

"Yeah and a real moan arse," said Debbie. "You should've heard them this morning: 'Debbie, if you think that's coffee you've made, I think you've been being robbed all your life! Try again, please!' 'Debbie,must you constantly utter slang words and drop your aitches when there are customers present? Mrs Brookes-Whittaker is a very cultured lady and she was not impressed!' 'Debbie...' "

"Oh my gawd, one of them!" Mandy was sympathetic. "It's like old Ma Prescott where I work: 'Mandy, do you really think those tinned peaches look pulled forward?' 'Mandy, don't slouch over the fag counter like that, you look like a tired suet pudding'..."

"It's an 'ard life," Debbie groaned. She rose. "Well, I'd better get back! What you got planned for this afternoon?"

"I thought I might 'ave a bath, do me nails, read me Smash Hits and listen to the Top 40," said Mandy. "I taped it on Sunday."

"I 'ate workin'," sighed Debbie. "You finished your dinner?"

Mandy's face crumpled. "Well, I thought I might have a bacon buttie...!"

Debbie grinned: "Typical! See yer later! An' remember - 'ands off Paul!"

Mandy wrinkled her nose: "Don't worry, I wouldn't 'ave 'im gift wrapped!"

All the same, she refreshed her lipstick before making her way to the counter.

Lynne just couldn't resist testing the waters with Geoff. Pausing for a natter at his stall, she said: "Those pot plants look a treat, Geoff."

"Ta, love," said Geoff. "Each the product of hard graft, my love of the soil and the sweat of me brow!"

"An' here's me thinkin' you bought 'em wholesale," Lynne grinned.

"Listen, Geoff, I've just been readin' this magazine story about this woman who walked out on her 'usband."

Geoff suddenly looked wary: "Oh aye?"

"Then, three months' later, she walks back in!"


Lynne steeled herself: "What would you do if Eileen walked in here right now?"

"Probably tell 'er to bugger off," said Geoff, then, seeing Lynne looking horror-struck: "No, probably not... I'd probably say... I'd... well..." There was a long pause.Geoff gave up: "How the hell do I know what I'd probably say? Bit of a sick question, that, Lynne, if you don't mind me sayin' so."

"Yeah... sorry - me an' my big gob!" said Lynne. "It's just that the story I read set me thinkin' about you and Eileen."

I'm getting to be too good a liar, she thought.

"Do you really think your marriage is over, Geoff? I mean, I know what you said a couple of weeks back, but you've slept on things since then."

"I've no idea, love," Geoff sighed. "I don't think I'd welcome 'er back with open arms, though. I don't think we 'ave any future. And this isn't some True Romance magazine story."

Sita had seemed off with Raju since he'd returned to the stall from the wholesalers, but he'd put it down to her unhappiness at working on the market.

But, suddenly, it seemed it might be more than that.

"That woman from the hair dresser's, the one with the big shoulder pads," said Sita out of the blue.

"Viv? What about her?" Raju asked, his stomach sinking.

"Get on well with her, do you?"

"I hardly know her!"

"And that's why you were virtually hanging around her neck at the wedding reception a couple of weeks back?"

"What?! I wasn't... that's nonsense... look, who told you that?"

"It doesn't matter," said Sita icily.

"I had a chat with her, that's all. She's very interesting, done lots of things in her life, and now she's set up business on the market..."

"So, you just chatted?"


"For how long?"

"What? Oh, I don't know... I didn't time us... We just talked!"

"And made yourself the subject of gossip!"

"Gossip? I don't see how. Who's gossiping?"

Sita didn't answer that: "Never  make a fool of me, Raju!"

Jaz was in bed, reading. His old, comfortable bedroom, clothes strewn here and there, sunlight streaming through the window... home.

There was a knock at the door and Mrs Sharma entered, carrying a cup of tea and a plateful of biscuits on a tray.

"I thought you might like something," she said.

"Oh, Maarji, thanks!" said Jaz. "Just what I could do with!"

Mrs Sharma smiled: "What is that you are reading?"

"William Again - one of the books I used to love when I was a kid. It's still making me smile."

"It was one of the first books we were given when we arrived in England...," Mrs Sharma looked at her son, his tousled head against the pillow, and saw him clearly as the boy he had been. It was so good to have him home, safe, under her care. She felt sure that was what he needed - some time with her, some time to rest, to loiter in the past, think about the present and the future...

He'd been through so much in his life.

There was so much in the past that wasn't good, yet so much that was. At least the family had survived, clung together.

She had been shocked in the courtroom by Jaz's memories of how they had come to leave home. He had been through so much that your average English man of his age could not begin to imagine. And he remembered. And yet he'd always been so positive...

Mrs Sharma had had high hopes for the girl, Meena, that Mr Vyass had found, and the prospect of an arranged marriage. Jaz had fought so hard against it, and yet had developed feelings for the girl. When she had left, ironically fired by Jaz's talk of modern English ways as opposed to the ways of their parents, he had been so hurt...

Now, Mrs Sharma said: "You enjoy your book. You will come down to eat later?"

"Yes," Jaz smiled.

Mrs Sharma patted his hand, and left the bedroom.

Jaz settled back with his tea and his book, happy to be reunited with William, the fictitous middle class schoolboy, and his adventures of long ago...

Lynne was chatting to Carol out on the wharf: "I'm pleased to see yer back, love."

"Yeah, me too, not that it's permanent, but it's a start," said Carol.

"What brought about your change of heart if I'm not noseyin' too much?" asked Lynne. "I mean, last I heard of you was from Paul. He said you left in a floods of tears after Peggy gave you your cards."

"That were about the extent of it," said Carol. "When I got home and told me mam what had happened, she went up the wall. I made it all out to be Peggy's fault, and me mam were comin' down here for a slangin' match, so I 'ad to tell the truth - I'd lost me job for lyin' and stirrin' up trouble."

"Lot to face up to, love," said Lynne, sympathetically.

"Yeah, it was. Me Dad was ever so disappointed. Far as he could see, I'd thrown away a really good chance. I went down the Social, mooned around a bit..."

"Not a lot goin' in the way of jobs, is there?" Lynne was sympathetic.

Carol sighed: "You can say that again! Anyway,  I felt angry - angry with Peggy, angry with Jaz... Then I got angry with meself... started to see that I was the only one to blame. Peggy 'ad been really good to me. I know when she took me on she wasn't even sure she could afford it..."

"She's a good old stick, Peggy," said Lynne. 

Carol nodded: "I know.  So, I decided to make the best of a bad job, ask Peggy if she'd give me a reference an' see if I could get a bit of work 'ere to get more experience. An' that's it."

"Sounds to me like you're growin' up," said Lynne. "An' our Lisa says you're doin' ever so well on 'ere."

"I just babble on at the customers about Bette Davis an' stuff like that an' things sometimes sell," said Carol. "I'm gonna have to read up on Bette Davis a bit... when I finish reading me love letters from Simon Le Bon, of course!"

"You do that, love," Lynne laughed, and took her leave.

Louise needed somebody to talk to. She knew that. Another night out last night, another one night stand. Another hangover today. Another "I wish you was dead" look from Mrs Naylor when she'd arrived home.

And on Monday, she was to return to the crappy cafe at Albion Market.

And that didn't thrill her either.

And deep down she knew it couldn't go on.

None of it.

She needed to talk.

She'd come in and gone to bed. Throughout the day she'd slept fitfully, aware of Mrs Naylor moving about the house, Jenny crying and Mrs Naylor attending to her, traffic in the street, somebody going past with a ghetto blaster blaring out...

Now, as the day turned into early evening, she was ready to get up. Ready to start facing things.

She needed to talk.

Over the excellent spud pie, sausages and green beans cooked up by Eileen, Lynne asked:

"So, are you still contactin' Geoff tonight?"

"Yes," said Eileen, "I'll get ready after this and pop down the phone box. Wish me luck!"

"Oh, I do, I do!" said Lynne.

"Me an' all!" said Lisa.

"I'm stayin' in, preparin' a few eye catchin' pricings for the stall tonight," said Lynne. "So, if you fancy a natter later..."

Eileen smiled at her gratefully.

Keith arrived home desperate to see Louise. He had the idea that if they didn't talk soon, all hope for their union would be gone. And he didn't want that. He didn't want to lose her.

"Where's Louise?" he called when he reached the living room.

"She's gone out again, son," replied Mrs Naylor from the kitchen. "Now, get your hands washed, toad in the hole for dinner..."

Geoff Travis was startled when he opened his front door to find Louise Todd, no, Naylor, on the doorstep.

"What the 'ell are you doin' 'ere?"

"It's all right, Geoff, I don't want to stop here or anythin'," Louise tried a smile. "I just need somebody to talk to..."


"Yes, I really do, Geoff. You were the only person I could think of that might help me work things out..."

Geoff sighed, but found himself opening the door to admit her: "You'd better come in..."

"Well, whatever 'appens, I'm keepin' a cool head!" said Eileen, all ready to set out.

Lynne, felt tips and cardboard at the ready, was having a fag before beginning work on the pricings for her stall.

ANDREX - 75p - GO FOR IT! - she was thinking.

"No, sounds dead common, yer silly cow," she muttered.

"Good luck, love," she turned to Eileen. "See yer later."

"I'm shakin'!" said Eileen. "Like some daft teenager!"

"Look, would you like me to come as far as the phone box with yer? I know you're reclaimin' your life an' all that, but a little back up might not hurt!"

"Oh, would yer, Lynne? Yeah, I would appreciate it!"

"I'll get me coat!"

"I'm just really fed up," Louise was telling Geoff. "I don't know 'ow to cope with Keith or that witch of a mother of his! So, I've been goin' out..."

Her eyes lit up at the thought of shocking Geoff and she continued with a glint in her eye:  "Drinkin', sleepin' around..."

"You've been married, what, a couple of weeks, and you've already been unfaithful?" Geoff could hardly believe his ears.

"Look, Geoff, don't start all that moralisin' stuff," Louise cried. "I came to you to try and sort things out in my head, work out what to do, not a bloody lecture!"

There was a silence, then Geoff asked: "Have you eaten?"

"No. I'm not hungry."

"Well, I am, and I reckon we'll both think better on full stomachs... I was planning on getting a Chinese. That OK with you?"

Louise suddenly realised that she hadn't eaten all day.

"Yeah, ta, it does sound like a good idea."

"Right," Geoff slung his coat on and grabbed the van keys from the coffee table. "You put the plates to warm and make a pot of tea. I'll be back in a jiffy!" and he left the house.

It was nearly twenty minutes walk from Lynne's little terraced council house to Eileen and Geoff's nice, privately owned semi-detached. And about midway between them was a telephone box which usually worked. "I'll wait while you phone," said Lynne as Eileen fumbled in her purse outside the box. "I'll even walk the rest of the way with yer if you want."

"Thanks, Lynne. You're a good friend." Eileen stepped into the box, put a coin ready in the slot, and dialled.

Louise was pouring boiling water into the teapot when the phone rang. Probably Geoff, she thought, wanting to know if she wanted noodles or special fried rice. She hurried across to the phone.


Eileen thrust the receiver away from her as if it had just slapped her. She heard Louise's voice again - "Hello?" - and slammed the reciever down onto its rest.

Outside, Lynne, sensing there was something wrong, swung the door open: "Eileen? What's up, love?"

Eileen turned to her, dazed: "Louise is there!"

"What? Don't talk daft, I told you, she married Keith, she'll be at 'ome!" And then Lynne stopped short as she remembered what Keith had told her that morning.

"She's there, Lynne, she just answered the phone!" Eileen was shaking again.

"But... I don't understand..." said Lynne, who, despite her hidden knowledge, was trying not to jump to any conclusions.

"Neither do I," said Eileen.

And then she began to cry.

Peggy was at home. She'd just had a Bejam  meal and had to admit, those frozen cubes of bubble and squeak cooked up nice. With a couple of burgers and some tomato ketchup it was pretty good grub. There was no point in going to the trouble of cooking from scratch when there was just the one of you - "Big one though I might be!" Peggy muttered to herself as she plonked herself in front of the telly and reached for the TV and Radio Times magazines on the coffee table. She wasn't expecting a knock at her front door and wasn't terribly pleased when it happened.

"Oh, flippin' 'eck!!"

She hoisted herself out of her chair and went to answer the door. Who was it? Keith with some pressing problem? Lynne, needing a bit of company? The woman from upstairs wanting to borrow milk? Jehovah's Witnesses? She was tired and could, quite frankly, do without any of 'em!

She pulled the door open a slit - it was on the chain - and asked somewhat testily: "Who is it?"

"It's me, Peggy," came a familiar voice. "Brenda Rigg."

Derek had been in to see Chan on his way home from work and was relieved to find her looking much brighter.

"Another day or two, and I shall be quite well," she told him, smiling.

They'd chatted over the day's doings on the market, and then Derek had left her, first extracting a promise from her that she'd eat the tin of cream of mushroom soup he'd bought her that evening.

"It'll stengthen you," he said.

She lay in bed, listening to the car driving away, she would have another sleep...

Then came the sound of scurrying footsteps on the concrete stairs outside and then a bang...

At first Chan thought the front door had been broken open: "Who is there?" she called, fearfully.

There was no reply.

She got out of bed, trembling with fear and fatigue, and made her way through to the hallway. The door was still on its hinges.

"Who is there?" she called again.


Chan rushed forward and drew the bolts at the top and bottom of the door.

"Who is there?!"

She heard a voice coming to her through the door: "You might well be scared, you bitch!"

Male? Female? The voice was a hoarse whisper and she couldn't be sure.

"Who are you?" she called.

But this time there was no reply.