07 April 2020

Some 1980s Vibes: When Corona Was Fizzy Drinks, Frankie Wanted To Arm The Unemployed And West End Girls Prowled...

'West End Girl' - a 1987 poster by Athena. The spiky-haired foxtress has obviously been surprised on the fire escape. Wonder what she's been up to? Eurythmics's Annie Lennox, in the guise of her horrid middle class housewife in the 1987 'Beethoven (I love to listen to)' video, would no doubt, have been fascinated!

So, the 1980s.

BOOM! BANG! KER-BLAM! Love Thatcher/Reagan? Hate Thatcher/Reagan? Wanna be a yuppie? Wanna join Red Wedge and tear down the whole capitalist system? Wanna eat Nouvelle Cuisine? Wanna eat bubble and squeak portions from Bejam? Love the brand new House Music sensation? Prefer the brand new indie sensation that was The Smiths? Love to power dress? Love to wear deelyboppers and jelly shoes?

The 1980s seemed full to bursting with contrasting thingies. And now it all looks like a different planet. How things have changed! Take Covid-19. Back in the 1980s if you mentioned 'Corona' in England and Wales, a range of fizzy drinks immediately sprang to the forefront of most minds - not lockdowns and social distancing.

This Corona bottle dates from 1982, as indicated by the date on the promotional blurb on the back of the label. The label features the little bubbly thingie from the early 1980s 'Every bubble's passed its fizzical' TV ad, which was then current.

Environmentally friendly? 'Course we were - 10p deposit charged on the bottle. My favourite Corona drinks were orangeade and cherryade. Every Christmas we used to order a crate of assorted Corona drinks from the milkman.

Daily Mirror, 27 February, 1985:

Frankie goes to Downing Street
Leading pop stars have signed a "celebrity petition" to be handed in at 10 Downing Street tomorrow. It opposes Government plans to axe supplementary benefit for school leavers if they do not take part in the Youth Training Scheme. Holly Johnson and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Paul Weller, Madness, Smiley Culture, the Flying Pickets and Alison Moyet are among the entertainers whose names will be handed in. The Downing Street visit is part of a national rally and lobby of Parliament organised by the Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign.

The Youth Opportunities scheme had been introduced by the Callaghan Labour Government in 1978, in response to rapidly rising youth unemployment. A YOP provided work experience only, although in 1982 a training element was added. In 1983, it was replaced by the Youth Training Scheme (YTS), which, as the scheme's name suggests, was centred around training for skills.

So, what was the beef with school leavers having to go on a YTS scheme to qualify for Government money? Did they not want training? Well, looking back, the reasons I heard bandied about were that the Government was simply using the scheme to make the unemployment figures look smaller, and that minimum age school leavers had a right to expect a proper job.

This interested me as, as far back as the mid-1970s, the fact that graduates with degrees were finding it impossible to find work was being widely reported.

But in the 1980s, any initiative on the part of the Thatcher Governments was seen by many of us as a plot to do us down. Her first government's concentration on inflation rather than unemployment early in the decade had cast her out forever as far as I was concerned.

And, although I had a job and was completely unaffected, I still ranted my disapproval.

Maggie Thatcher would probably have dearly loved to give Frankie a spanky in the mid-1980s.

1 comment:

Laurence said...

Nice comments on Gwen Guthrie. A fantastic record by any standard in any decade. Heard it the other day on James Moses' "All About 80s" show on Exeter University's Xpression FM. Not the go-to place to listen to an 80s show, I'll grant but he's just started season 5 and gets better and better each week. Give it a listen! It's 8pm-9pm every Wednesday during term-time.