Back in Time: The 1980s

We had it all in the 80s..

Goodish music, cool films, strikes, threats of nuclear war, creepy DJs and legwarmers.

It was also one of those rare occasions when we won the Eurovision.

What? No! It had NOTHING to do with skirts coming off!

A lot has changed in the last 38 years since the start of that decade. Technology has gone STRATOSPHERIC and I have no idea what’s happening anymore..

So, how about a few comparisons between then and now?


Now. There are about, ooh, a million TV channels to choose from? Yet you can still spend half an hour flicking through to find there is NOTHING on. I literally spent AGES flicking through all the channels last night and I ended up watching Fawlty Towers which was made sometime during the middle-ages. ‘Flowery Twats’ may be un-pc these days but it’s still hilariously funny.

Basil to his car: Start, you vicious bastard. Oh my God. I’m warning you, if you don’t start… I’ll count to three. 1, 2, 3, right, that does it. I’m going to give you a damn good thrashing.

They really don’t make them as good as this anymore..

Then. We had THREE channels at the start of the 80s. BBC One. BBC Two and ITV. Channel Four was launched in 1982 so that made a grand total of FOUR channels to choose from. Channel Four was a God send for us teenagers with programmes like The Tube and Brookside. I mean, who can forget ‘Debbie and Damon’? De Romeo and Juliet of der Pewl, eh?

‘Come here boy! It’s been five minutes since I gave somebody a damn good thrashing!’


NOW. “Oh yeah? What are you going to do about it, Sir. I’ll have you arrested, Sir. You’ll be somebody’s bitch in prison, Sir!”

Discipline in secondary school consists of after-school detentions, confiscations, isolation and exclusion. When it became illegal to thrash kids, teachers had to get creative – not to mention medicated. However, it’s my understanding that teachers still have the right to use necessary force pupils in certain situations like if they are going to harm themselves or others?

THEN. In my day you got thrashed with a big fuck off stick and I’ve seen numerous blackboard rubbers hurtling across classrooms aimed at somebody’s head. It’s a wonder there weren’t fatalities. Maybe there were? Come to think of it, pupils were prone to disappearing from time to time. Was it truancy? Or were they concussed in A & E?

The glory years of corporal punishment came to an end in 1987 (two years after I left) though private schools carried on thrashing until 1999. In this instance, I think that 2018 wins because there should never have been a place in society for hitting children.


NOW. There’s probably have a game about it on X Box featuring zombies. Also, President Trump likes to have ‘my nukes are bigger than yours’ competitions with anybody who takes the piss out of his hair/face/tan/hands/leadership.

I’d say this gives some cause for concern..

THEN. In 1983 there were two close calls. ACTUAL danger of ANNIHILATION due to a tiff between the Russia and America. A generation of kids and their parents properly shat themselves worrying over this. Parents were stock piling tins of beans so in the event of nuclear war we could fart ourselves into comas. Thankfully it didn’t happen but it gave Frankie Goes To Hollywood some inspiration for their number one hit, Two Tribes.

Remember this?

“The air attack warning sounds like
This is the sound.

When you hear the air attack warning
You and your family must take cover.”

19 September 1983


NOW. People think Theresa May is bad?

THEN. She’s aint a patch on our pearl wearing overlord!

Margaret Thatcher (or “that woman” as my Labourite father called her) ruled as PM throughout the entirety of the 80s. This was the woman who a few years earlier (as Secretary of State for Education) abolished free milk for schoolchildren. Also, she and her popular (not) Poll Tax was responsible for the worst riots in Britain. Thatcher was possibly one of the most hated women ever. Certainly wasn’t popular in our house. In my opinion, Thatcher makes Theresa May look like Jar Jar Binks – only in leopard print kitten heels.


NOW. Parents have to take out a second mortgage so their kid can have the Star Wars Millennium Falcon? I am STAGGERED at the price of Lego these days! I want to buy a kit, not the company!

THEN. One board, some bricks and you considered yourself lucky.


Now. I’ve yet to clap eyes on a young person who isn’t attached to their mobile phone via an umbilical cord. You see them slumped over their phones in McDonald’s – Diet Coke in one hand – mobile phone in the other.

ALL of them on their phones.

NOBODY speaking.

Are they all sat texting each other?

It’s possible.

Then. While mobile phones existed in the 80s – they were the size of a shopping trolley and cost a fortune so us peasants had to make do with landline phones or public phone-boxes. You know, the red ones that reeked of fags and wee?

‘Blocking’ was when irate parents fixed an actual lock on the phone after receiving a bill of EPIC proportions – £40 in 80s money and about £160 in today’s. This usually included a few months of being grounded. Early parole was usually granted because parents couldn’t cope with having stroppy teenagers under their feet being all hormonal and horrible.


Now. Auto-tuned, shit sampled crap with pornographic videos and lyrics that would give your nan a coronary.

Truffle butter? Do yourself a favour and don’t Google it.

You Googled it dintcha?

Certainly puts Madonna and her pointy bra into place, eh?

Then. Sexuality has played a part in music for decades. Elvis was thrusting his pelvis at teenage girls in the 50s and in those days it was shocking. In 1978 Olivia Newton John was prim and proper as Sandy in Grease – three years later she was wanting to get ‘physical’ with blokes in a gym and I don’t think she meant half an hour on the treadmill! NOT that I knew what it was really about then because I used to pull on my legwarmers and go round the house singing..

You gotta know that you’re bringin’ out
The animal in me,
Lets get physical, physical, I wanna get physicaaaaaal…

Highly appropriate when you’re eleven years old, no?


Now. According to University of Florida’s Eunice Kim and colleagues in a September 2016 paper, there are 93 million selfie postings every day! That’s a LOT of duckface!

Then. Selfies aren’t a new creation, I mean, what’s the difference between a self-portrait and a selfie? It’s still a picture of YOURSELF, right? People have been using cameras to take picture of themselves for decades, it’s just that it’s so much easier now. In my day if you wanted to take a picture of yourself it involved much faffing and possible blindness when the flash went off in your face. Plus we were working with actual film so posing your way through a gazillion shots was NOT an option.

The 80s were my teenage years and I am part of the generation before technology went supersonic. Sadly, teens won’t ever experience that kind of simplicity again unless it’s part of some historical experiment to show how we used to live..

Fast forward 38 years and we live in a technological world where we communicate more with strangers than we do our own families. For autistic people like me, social media helps us to socialise because we are generally crap at it in person. That said, social media is good in small doses because it can easily become overwhelming. Life is too technological for our brains to cope with and as a result our mental health suffers and we have to take social media and, in my case – technology in general – breaks.

I have mixed emotions about the 1980s. Happy because it was the decade where I became a mother. Sad/angry/scarred because I was bullied by twats. Despite this – the frankly criminal fashions and Agagdoo do do push pineapple shake the tree – the 1980s was simplistic in comparison to today.

For me, THE best decade was the one that preceded it. Yes readers, hold onto your goddamn flares because next time I’ll be hauling you back to the 70s!


All images are public domain

Margaret Thatcher

The Decade That Spawned Me ~ Technology

I feel fortunate to have been born in the 70s because it was a decade of relative simplicity and family. Then along came the 80s with it’s affordable electronics and the cracks started to appear in family life and, well, it’s all gone a bit shit.

The chart topping ‘Video killed The Radio Star’ was released in 1979. The song promoted technology but also warned of it’s effects…


Oh a oh!

At the start of the 70s it was very much about family as highlighted in the six part series, Back In Time For The Weekend where the Ashby-Hawkins family, having experienced life from the 1950s through to the 2000s, said that the 70s had the ‘perfect balance’ of convenience and family values before households were ‘splintered’ by technology.

I agree and I should know because I was there, flares and everything.

When it came to entertaining ourselves, we had to be imaginative. My brother and I were dressed, fed and turfed out during weekends and holidays with orders not to return until dinner time. Mum wasn’t being neglectful, it was simply the era’s ‘no shit approach’ to parenting and it was no bad thing because we were out in the fresh air, keeping fit and making memories. I can’t help but wonder if children today will remember the hours spent hunched over their mobile phones with the same level of nostalgia?

‘remMbR dat tym we wer @ McDonalds & we wer aL on our phones @ d sAm tym txtN Ech other?’

Can’t see it myself.

We did stuff. We made tents out of BED SHEETS and you know how parents spend trillions of pounds on electronic paraphernalia for kids today? Well we made skipping ropes out of old washing lines. HARD PLASTIC washing lines that hurt like buggery when they whacked you on the back of the legs. Can you imagine handing kids today an old washing line to play with? They’d probably stand there trying to work where to plug it in, no?

Today’s kids are about ALL about technology and The Boy is no different. He has the electronic devices and his DS is invaluable when it comes to distraction when we’re out and about. However, I’m an old fart who knows the importance of things that don’t require batteries (or a socket) so he has plenty of stuff that only requires imagination and no matter what you’ve heard, autistic children do have an imagination.

When it comes to ‘gaming’, in the 70s, we had ‘Pong’.


Obviously by today’s standards, it’s shit, but in my day it was cutting edge stuff. We had it on a console and we’d play it if the weather was bad enough (torrential rain, blizzards etc) to keep us in but the constant BLIP-BLIP-BLIP did Mum’s head in and it often went missing for weeks on end. Fancy?!

Thursdays was Top of the Pops night. We had Jimmy saVILE and the other deviants masquerading as DJs entertaining us in our front room. Urgh. Where are the Men in Black with their neuralyzers?

Also, GET THIS. Our TV had THREE channels and our telly had two remotes – me and my brother. We were fitter in those days, if nothing else..

Children’s TV accounted for all of about two hours a day and most programmes were crap. Like Pipkins. Pipkins was crap but it was addictive crap. Hartley Hare always looked like he had a bad case of Mixi, to me. I mean, LOOK AT HIM!

Somebody put it out of it’s misery ffs…

My own family has been seduced by technology. I SWORE I’d never have a Kindle. I SCOFFED at the idea of an electronic book but then OH beguiled me with the convenience of being able to buy a book whilst wearing my rollers and a flannelette nightie and I was like, ‘How soon can I have one?’

The experience of living in the 70s for the TV show changed Steph Ashby’s relationship with technology because she could see the impact that it had on family life and as a result took steps to use technology more selectively. Her daughter quit Facebook (yeah, right) and the entire family reduced their time on social media.

What I’ve taken away from that is that it’s the time spent with people that is really important and making sure that we don’t let things like technology get in the way.

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Mrs, and I will do my utmost to ensure my family do not become total slaves to technology. However, maybe it’s the case that…

We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far.