06 July 2014

Howard and Hilda talk '80s

Howard and Hilda Hughes in the 1980s.

We asked Howard and Hilda Hughes, two of the stars of that searing 1980s suburban life documentary series Ever Decreasing Circles (1984-1989) what they thought of the decade...

Hilda: "Well, I was in the Wrens back then (giggles). I think I quite liked Lonnie Donegan."

'80s Actual: "That was the 1950s, actually."

Howard: "Oh dear, Hilda (laughs), you got it a bit wrong there old girl!"

Hilda: "Yes, I did, Howard!" Laughs as well. "The 1980s... we decorated the Polly Wally Doodle room I seem to recall..."

Howard: "Yes, we did, Hilda. A lovely shade of pastel pink."

Hilda: "Yes! Oh, that was lovely, Howard. And we had all that trouble with the buddleia ."

Howard: "That's right, dear. It got a bit out of control, didn't it?" (Laughs)

Hilda: "It did, Howard!" (laughs too.) "Wasn't that when we made our basketwork Neddy?"

Howard: "It was Hilda. I think we should try working in basket again."

Hilda: "Yes, it was fun, wasn't it?"

'80s Actual: "That's all very interesting. But what did you think about the popular culture of the 1980s?"

Hilda: "The Shipping Forecast was very good back then."

Howard: "It was, Hilda."

Hilda: "And the rosehip syrup. I don't think it tastes the same these days."

'80s Actual: "Did you participate in the fashions of the decade? Deelyboppers? Power dressing? Shell suits?"

Hilda: "Well, I made some lovely jumpers and cardigans. Quite a lot of them were matching - Howard and I like to be matching sometimes, don't we, Howard?"

Howard: "We do, dear."

Hilda: "And I like knitwear - it keeps the draughts out. I've got a back, you see."

'80s Actual: "Er, yes... What about the political scene of the 1980s? What did you think about Reagan and Thatcher? The miners' strike? Clause 28? Perestroika and Glasnost? The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War?"

Hilda: "I never discuss politics. Nasty things. Cause a lot of disagreements. My father was always very strict about that. We never do, do we, Howard?"

Howard: "Do what, dear?"

Hilda: "Discuss politics."

Howard: "No, dear."

'80s Actual: "Oh. What about the sporting scene? Botham and Becker? Lineker and Steve Davis? Zola Budd?"

Hilda: "Well, I remember that little beast at the World Cup. That "hand of God" thing. Was that when you're talking about?"

'80s Actual: "Yes, 1986."

Hilda: "Oh, well, we remember that, don't we Howard?"

Howard: "We do, dear. And I played a lot of cricket of course. And tried my hand at snooker. You could say I was something of a sportsman back then."

Hilda: "Yes! And I knitted the jumpers for the cricket team! We had that lovely wool shop in the high street back then. It's closed now of course. It's one of those coffee places now."

Howard: "Yes, it is."

'80s Actual: "What about pop music back then? Do you remember Adam and the Ants? New Order? Pet Shop Boys? Erasure?"

Howard: "No, I don't think we do, old boy. We liked Sing Something Simple though."

Hilda: "Oh, yes! We used to sing along, didn't we, Howard? Every Sunday afternoon. We always looked forward to that."

Howard: "Yes, we did, dear."

Hilda: "The neighbours must have thought we were a bit of a rowdy house when that was on. We got quite carried away at times!" (giggles).

Howard laughs.

'80s Actual (sighing): "So, is there anything else you remember from the 1980s?"

Hilda: "Well, [lowers her voice] I attacted a poltergiest. I know it was then because I kept a diary. I bought it at WH Smith's - it had a lovely pink pelican on the front cover. Hardback. I bought it because I wanted to see if there was any pattern to the supernatural activity, you see. 1989 it was."

Howard: "I don't think it was really a poltergeist, Hilda."

Hilda (getting slightly indignant): "Then how do you explain my little wooden windmill? Me predicting the Red Devil? What happened at the supermarket?"

Howard: "Don't distress yourself, Hilda. That was a long time ago."

Hilda (calming): "Yes, you're quite right, Howard. And we have a guest. I'm sorry, Howard. I'm sorry, Mr Actual."

'80s Actual: "That's fine. I think I should be going now. Thanks for answering my questions - I'll definitely feature you on the blog."

Hilda: "Would you like a nice cup of tea before you go? Rosehip syrup? A nice muffin with zero cholesterol butter perhaps and some of my homemade jam?"

Howard: "I can really recommend Hilda's cherry."

'80s Actual: "No, no, thanks - I really must go. Thanks again. It's been really..." (leaves quickly). Standing on the garden path at the front of Howard and Hilda's house, our '80s Actual "journalist" hears a voice inside the house drifting out of the open window:

Howard: "Shame we unpicked Neddy's ears, wasn't it?"

Hilda: "That was nervous tension, that was, Howard Hughes."

Howard: "Yes, it was, dear. Still, we could always fetch him down from the attic and re-basket them, couldn't we?"

Hilda (enthusiastically): "Yes, we could, Howard. That would be wonderful. And we could put him in the Polly Wally Doodle Room with the gramophone."

Howard: "And people say retirement can be boring! We've never found that, have we, Hilda?"

Hilda (giggling): "No, we most certainly have not, Howard!"

They laugh together.

Pause. Then:

Hilda: "Howard, is there such a word as 're-basket'?"

'80s Actual hastens away.


Pam said...

Howard and Hilda Hughes! Legends! And wasn't another of Ann and Martin's neighbours called Tommy Cooper? EDC was so clever, a comedy that could be so dark and a bit surreal at times.

Drew said...

Hilda replies: "Yes, Tommy Cooper was one of our neighbours too. He still is actually. And Lawrence Treadwell. He was very active in local circles. He moved away. Dark? If we're going out in the dark, we usually pop something reflective on, don't we, Howard?"

Howard: "We do, dear, and if it's cold those colourful hats you knitted."

Hilda: "Yes, because you can't be too careful."