In 1982, I was 16 years old and as so, fully consider myself a child of the 80’s. It certainly was a fantastic time to be growing up (in Torquay) and going to University (in Sussex).
I know I’m looking back with slightly rose tinted spectacles, but weren’t the 1980’s great? Even though there was no internet, no mobile phones, no WiFi, no websites and no BLOGS, it was a truly unforgettable time. And yes, I do wish I still looked like this….
On 6th July 1985 I was at Wembley Stadium watching Bruce Springsteen on his Born in the USA tour. Absolute heaven! Nils Lofgren and Clarence Clemons were on stage as part of his legendary E Street Band, and it was easily the best live performance I have ever seen. And I have seen a few since then!
Still with music, but on a slightly different level, I can vividly remember The Radio 1 Roadshow with Smiley Miley et al. Every year the highlight of my summer, living in Torquay, was the appearance of the roadshow. Broadcast by BBC Radio 1, it set up on Torre Abbey Meadows opposite the beach, and was a huge draw for both holidaymakers and the locals. Bands of the day played and Radio One DJ’s, celebrities themselves, hosted. It was free, and the crowds were enormous. Apparently people would even plan their holidays around Roadshow dates.
Listening to music took on a whole new dimension when the Sony Walkman came into being in 1980. I think I got one for my birthday in 1982 and thought myself quite the diva listening to that little stereo cassette player. My parents no longer had to put up with David Bowie and Duran Duran blaring out from my room and I could listen to my music as loud as I wanted, (though I remember there was a lot of parental concern about loss of hearing).
Jane Fonda. In 1982 Jane Fonda’s Workout was released which incredibly, went on to become the highest selling video of all time. Following its incredible success, 21 more workout videos were released, selling over 17 million copies. This all nicely coincided with my discovery of exercise, aerobics, keeping fit and yes, leg warmers, and me and my Jane Fonda video collection were inseparable until well into the 1990’s.
The FA Cup. We still have the FA cup now of course, but it’s not the same. In the 1980’s, it was a really big deal, akin even to winning The Champions League now. Although my beloved Manchester United FC hadn’t reached the levels of success that they later reached in the 90’s and early 2000’s, they won the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985. The match was broadcast live at 3pm (the only live football on television then) and the whole day would be taken up with related programming.
Film. It’s got to be Top Gun I think, as the most iconic for that decade, but we also were watching films like The Breakfast Club and Ghostbusters, The Terminator and Raiders of the Lost Ark, St Elmo’s Fire, Rain Man, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Television. I hardly watch any television now but was glued to our set in the 1980’s. I loved Dallas, and the infamous “Who Shot J.R?” episode was apparently watched by over 80 million people. And the culprit turned out to be Bing Crosby’s daughter! Who knew?! Then in 1986, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) was resurrected in the shower, of all places, after being killed off the previous year. I’m not sure they could get away with that now. Top of the Pops, Cagney and Lacey, Dynasty, Bergerac, Blind Date and Only Fools and Horses. I loved them all!
Telephones. Even I can barely remember using one of these devices! And when someone telephoned the house, it was expected that you would answer the phone by rattling off your number! How bizarre that seems now! And if you wanted to phone your friends and have private conversations, it was a case of stocking up on the 10 pence pieces and heading out for the nearest phone box…
Style. Oh my! Think power dressing, shoulder pads and oh my goodness, the hair. Huge hair! I also bleached my hair to within an inch of its life. Seen here, it’s a wonder I have any hair left all these years later.
I can well remember wearing ‘Peddle Pushers’ and flouncy blouses (a la Princess Diana) to nightclubs in my ‘New Romantic’ period, and ‘Slogan T shirts’ were also very big, (remember Wham’s Choose Life t shirt?) as were hair scrunchies, perms and huge earrings. ‘Power dressing’ became a thing as women experimented with image in order to empower themselves in the workplace. Women who meant business, literally! And of course attempt to break through traditionally male career and salary ceilings. (And we are still trying.)
Food. Do you remember Artic Roll, Lean Cuisine and Fondues, Chicken in a Basket and Coke in glass bottles? Or how about a ‘Vesta Curry’ followed by ice cream covered in ‘Ice Magic’ topping? That stuff used to crack teeth! A trip to the sweet shop always involved buying chewy Black Jacks and Fruit Salad and I also loved Traffic Light lollies and Sherbert Fountains. As a family treat, we would go to a Berni Inn and have prawn cocktails and steak dinners. That was also where I was introduced to Irish coffee as I remember….
Records and Cassettes. No iPods then, and certainly no iTunes. How did we cope? We bought 45” and 12” singles, (I nearly wore out my copy of Blue Monday by New Order) and who can forget recording The Top 40 on a Sunday afternoon and trying (in vain usually) to not record the DJ’s voice. Most of my singles and albums were bought in a wonderful shop in Torquay called Soundz, where I spent many a happy Saturday afternoon browsing.
Video. The concept of watching a video at home became possible in this decade and it was exciting to visit the local rental shop to choose videos to play on our VHS video recorders. (Not Betamax, I don’t think that took off). I can remember renting “An Officer and a Gentleman” vividly. This was also the decade of the “Video Nasty,” purportedly very violent or graphic films on VHS not given a rating by the British Board of Film Classification due to a loophole, and thus available in rental stores. Not sure I ever saw one though.
This post could have been 10,000 words! Once I started thinking and remembering about that decade, more and more memories popped into my head. And of course I’ve not gone into the momentous, sometimes cataclysmic political events that took place, some of which still resonate and shape the world we live in now.
I recently watched Stranger Things on Netflix and thought about how connected we are still to the 1980’s, and how we recall it as a positive decade generally. I remember cringing in later years when I recalled some of my fashion choices…. but while I was pulling on my peddle pushers, using a can of VO5 hairspray to make my hair really big, and dancing to Tainted Love and To Cut A Long Story Short, there is no doubt that I was literally having the time of my life. ❤️