Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.
When Don Draper said those words we had one of the most iconic scenes in recent television history. Since I watched it I have been pondering what I am nostalgic about. Then a recent post by Sonja Nelson got me thinking a little more about what I miss, or long for, from when I was growing up. So here’s a list of things I remember fondly, with a twinge of nostalgia from the 70s and 80s.
I’m drowning in my nostalgia – David Sylvian
The Young Ones – well anarchic humour. I suppose each generation thinks the next has gone too far. I remember going round my friends house most lunchtimes and watching the latest episodes on video (and yes, he did have a video – series joke there). We watched it so often we knew the script off by heart. For us it was new, something only ‘we’ found funny, it was for the ‘youth’ and Rick (spelt with silent ‘P’) was the (our) people’s poet.
My Chopper – easy now, I’m talking about the classic Raleigh bike. I ended up with one and I loved it. What made it special to me was that when I discovered music and became a mega fan of Gary Numan, I ended up spraying the bike black and putting red lines all over it in honour of Telekon. (I also think that was the beginning of the end for the bike. If I take something apart it rarely ends up back together.)
Galactic Warlord by Douglas Hill. This was perhaps the first real sci-fi novel I read. I had read the Target book versions of Dr Who episodes, (and I suppose they are part of this point too) but this book and the next three in the series were my first foray into original sci-fi. And they certainly weren’t the last. My favourite literary genres since have been sci-fi and horror.
Not being afraid. Well, we were scared and worried, especially as the spectre of 80s recession loomed over everything, but there was no thought of our mortality. Despite Aids and the constant fear of nuclear war thanks to Reagan and whichever Russian leader lasted longer than a week, for teens there was no fear. Frankie told us to relax and we did just that. I suppose this isn’t limited to the 70s and 80s but it is something that I miss so I’m putting it down.
Our Price record shops. Well here’s an interesting one. This chain survived for a while and as we had a local branch I ended up buying many of my favourite pieces of vinyl from there:colourbox, REM, Torch Song, Iggy Pop and Bowie all made it into my shopping basket there. But it was also a lot more. I met two short time girlfriends there and although nothing long term came from those relationships they were happy times.
But Our Price was a chain of stores and in another store I had one of those epiphany moments. At the King’s Road branch I was browsing through the records when a synth line came over the speaker, it was followed by a simple, yet haunting guitar line. I could no longer browse and had to find out what the track was. It was A Forest by The Cure and another love affair began.
Cheekbones – and no I don’t mean the ultra cool magazine promoted by The Mighty Boosh. I used to have cheekbones, well I still do but they are hard to see now. Of course this is a bigger issue, but the thing I really miss is being able to eat anything and drink anything and for it not to have any visible effect on how I look. I really miss that, but I don’t think that is merely confined to the 70s and 80s.
Fizzy orange balls – no not a euphemism, but a sweet that I seem unable to find anywhere, despite the growth in ‘vintage’ sweet shops. It was pure heaven to buy a 1/4 of these (yes, decimalisation was only preached at school, a great idea which meant I had no idea about s and measures in the real world). But they were also pure hell. After a couple of these boiled sweets that were laced with sherbet your tongue was shredded to bits. Poke it out in front of a mirror and your were greeted with a bloody mess. Worth every moment of pain though! Weight
Computers that loaded programs from cassette players – I had a couple of computers that loaded programs from tape. You’d attach the tape player to the computer press play and listen to series of beeps and pulses that was the code being loaded to the machine. Anticipation grew for the next five or so minutes while the tape played. This was dashed when the the tape finished and the computer was no more useful than when you had begun the tape. For those who dread the blue screen of death, you know nothing!
Smash Hits – the pop magazine that went on for many years but played a formative part in my youth when I was 12 and 13. I would laugh at what was written, take in the reviews and get annoyed at the letters written in. It may, or may not be a coincidence, that I loved Smash Hits when a certain Neil Tennant was working on it.
The Banana Splits – this was Saturday mornings and summer holidays. In the UK it rains, so when there is no way you can go out TV programs play a big part. This was one of those. Having said that, if I had to explain to anyone what it was about, I really couldn’t. The following video will explain nothing.
Robinson Crusoe – One thing leads to another and summer holidays in the 70s and 80s wouldn’t be complete without this classic TV series. I do remember the series but it was the theme tune and soundtrack that really tugs the heart. And what better way to end a post on nostalgia with a link to a video for the show.
I have a feeling this may become one in a series of many…