17 October 2012

Rubik's Cake - A Very 1980s Birthday...

Today is my birthday - and thanks to my sister, her partner, and my two wonderful nephews for coming up with this home made surprise cake - with that ultimate 1980s icon - the Rubik's Cube as its theme!  When an obscure Hungarian puzzle called the Magic Cube  made its debut at international toy fairs in January and February 1980, nobody knew what was going to happen.

The Magic Cube was then manufactured to Western World safety and packaging norms and Ideal Toys decided a new name was needed. The Gordian Knot? Inca Gold? Hmmm...

How about Rubik's Cube, thus naming the puzzle after its inventor, Erno Rubik?

The first Rubik's Cubes were shipped from Hungary in May 1980, although arrival in  the UK was rather later, the first batches hitting our stores towards the end of the year. Even then there was a severe shortage until spring 1981.

"Have A Rubik's Day" as my sister has inscribed on the birthday cake tray.

And, from spring 1981 onwards, for  over a year, every day was a Rubik's day. I have never known a craze so intense.

Read all about the wonderful Cube here.

And, meanwhile, please excuse me whilst I get on with celebrating my birthday by tucking into the most delicious Rubik's Cube I have ever seen! 

08 October 2012

New Order - Blue Monday... "Really Weird, That Is!"

New Order, of course, formed after Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, committed suicide in 1980. In 1983, I had never even heard of New Order. I had heard of Joy Division when they'd had some chart success with Love Will Tear Us Apart in 1980, but the follow-on band had slipped underneath my radar. I was dead common, you see. Chart music was everything to me and if a band hadn't charted, I didn't know 'em.

Then, along came Blue Monday in 1983. Now, at that point my favourite kind of music was synth pop, and Blue Monday had synths. It also had a jangling guitar. It also had a staccato beat. And it had a lack of structure I had never encountered before. The song simply didn't conform to the rules I was used to, and I rejected it: "That's really weird, that is!" I squawked.

But within a week this now legendary long player was on my record player non-stop. It was groundbreaking. It was brilliant. It was staggeringly original, it began to move us away from synth pop and towards the dance music era of the late 1980s and early 1990s - that's what I now say.

1987... schizoid year which saw the '80s destroying the yuppie dream it had created with the stock market crash - and a huge gale wreaking death and destruction across the south of England. The dance scene was getting well and truly underway. This track, from New Order's SUBSTANCE 1987 compilation album, is an absolute peach. Just listen to Bernard Summner:

"I stood there beside myself
Thinking hard about the weather
Then came by a friend of mine
Suggested we go out together
Then I knew it from the start
This friend of mine would fall apart
Pretending not to see his guilt
I said 'let's go out and have some fun'..."

05 October 2012

1987: Eurythmics - Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)

Eurythmics - Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox - formed in 1980 and were one of the most fascinating and innovative contributors to the pop charts throughout the decade. 

Remember Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)? Remember Who's That Girl? Remember Here Comes The Rain Again? Of course you do! But do you remember Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)? You probably don't! Take a look at the brilliant video above and listen to the compelling story of an upper-middle class English woman, brilliantly portrayed by the very Scottish Annie Lennox, as she tries to meld the girl, the masculine side and the vamp within her and break away from her repressed state. Or simply goes off her rocker! 

Love this.