Diary of an 80s teenager part 2: Who the hell is Tony?

Diary of an 80s teenager part 2: Who the hell is Tony?

If you missed Part 1, here it is.

Welcome back to S’s diary. In part 1 we learned that S has seen the seminal work ‘Herbie Goes Bananas’ at the cinema, and that she likes Paul Bateman. On the last page, however, some young upstart called Tony made an appearance:

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What we know about Tony so far:

1: He’s called Tony

2: He probably looks like this:

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He seems to have successfully seen off the competition anyway.

Let’s crack on.

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Oh I’m so fucking surprised. Poor Paul Bateman. On the next couple of pages we have an article about how you should turn the lights off and sit in the dark, or something. Possibly ok to skip.

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A crossword! I suspect S had better things to do than come up with the answer to “Norman’s wine”. Print it out and fill it in if you’re bored of reading this.

On the next page we have Steve Strange, and Mrs Strange, I assume. S has done a good job of making them look stranger.

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Mini posters of C.H.I.P.S. And the Harlem Globetrotters, and S’s Christmas-present-getting list. She likes Maggie enough to buy her 2 singles, but not enough to buy her 3 singles. Mum is getting tapes and refills (?) while Dad is getting… hankies? And… shavers? Slavs?

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11/12/81

“Sian Roberts was not in school. (Who?) Went to Christmas fair in school. Bought three books. Mr Grinwalds collected money by door. Walked home with Darren and Neil (And what do Paul Bateman and/or Tony have to say about this?) Wrapped Xmas presents.”

I can only assume that S spent the whole of October and November in a state of catatonic lust over Tony, thankfully getting her shit together in time for the Anglesey art group dinner.

12/12/81

“Went to Bangor, bought two singles.”

No idea which singles she bought. Looking at the charts for that week, I’m having a punt on “Cambodia” by Kim Wilde, and “Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour)” by Dollar.

13/12/81

“Went out to play in thick snow, after putting trimmings up.”

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14/12/81

“Woke up 8.30. Went to school. Water ran out, we had no water all day, and it will probably be like this for a long time. (the water RAN OUT? Are you sure? I reckon there was probably some water somewhere in Wales.) Dad told me that Mam was going to hospital. Watched film, ‘A Star Is Born!’.”

15/12/81

“Woke up 8.25. Went to school. After I came home, helped Mam with tea. After tea, finished off Christmas magazine for English. Watched Disco championships and Cowboys.”

I feel kind of cheated that we don’t get to watch Disco championships on TV now.

16/12/81

“Woke up 8.30, went to school. Mam going to hospital today. She will be home on Friday hopefully. Went to free disco in Menai Bridge. Barnie and Laurence were there. Got Christmas present off Andrea, and Joanne.”

Get well soon Mam.

(17/12/81)

“Woke up 11.30, no school today, because there was no water. Cooked mince pies. Dad brought fish and chips for tea. Went to Kwiks. Saw Mam after, in hospital.”

‘Kwiks’? Please be Kwik Save. Please start talking about the Kwik Save flaps. I love those. Since you didn’t get shit-faced at the Menai Bridge disco like you promised last time, this is the least you can do.

18/12/81

“Woke up 8.30, went to school. (Guess they found some water then.) Had volleyball in Gym. Mam came to school dinner-time to say she was home. That really made my day. (This makes my heart happy.) Went to (NO IDEA, SEE BELOW), it was fantastic. Tony was there.”

Oh, Tony would we? Anyway, I have no fucking clue where she went. Here’s the word:

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Seriously, we’ve tried everything. Answers on a postcard I guess. If you can decipher it, let me know.

19/12/81

“Went to Bangor. Went to Bethan’s Christmas party.”

20/12/81

“Went to church. Put Xmas tree up. Watched half of David Bowie film.”

Which film? And which half? Probably whichever half had Tony in it.

And here we leave S to continue with her festive preparations, such as buying Slavs for her dad. Join me for part 3, where we find out what S gets for Christmas.

Diary of an 80s teenager part 1: meet our heroine

Diary of an 80s teenager part 1: meet our heroine

Last week, I found this in a box at a car boot sale:

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It’s a 1981/82 diary, and it’s been filled in by a 14 year old girl from North Wales, who we’ll call ‘S’. I’ve decided to share this simple yet heartwarming tale of teenage life with you, if only for the fact that it proves someone, somewhere, once bought a record by Dollar.

A few notes before we begin: I have, to the best of my ability, removed S’s full name from the following pages. Notes by me are in italics. Also, I apologise in advance to any Welsh readers if I’ve spelled things wrong. But, you know, she had bloody terrible handwriting at times.

So join me, dear reader, as we follow S on her journey of buying miniature cans of coke, attempting to phone her crush, and watching Herbie Goes Bananas…

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I don’t think you need me to point out that she likes someone called Paul Bateman. 

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School timetable for the coming year. Not sure what commerce is. Exemplary penmanship thus far.

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S doesn’t much go in for books, preferring instead to trade records with ‘Maggie’, Mandy’, and someone called ‘Chips’.

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31/08/81

“Woke up 10.05. Went to get paper in shop, but there were none left. Bought little cans of coke for 12p. After dinner went for a ride in the car, to Mynydd Eilian, and Bull Bay. Got a cup of coffee and a choc ice. Watched Sinbad film, Coronation Street, Benny Hill.”

01/09/81

“Woke up 9.05. Maggie came to call for me. Went to village to cut my hair (Lady Diana style). After dinner went to Auntie Eleri’s, and went to Caernarvon. Got pot noodle for tea, watched ‘Keep It In The Family’, and Morecambe and Wise. Blackie went missing.”

Oh dear, is Blackie a cat? A dog? A deadly but loveable python? Hope he/she is ok. S doesn’t seem that fussed either way.

02/09/81

BACK TO SCHOOL

“Woke up 8.05. Found Blackie by back door. (Wasn’t bloody missing then was he, he was what’s known as ‘outside’.) Went to school, got my timetable. Had present from Newton Abbot, from Nain. (Welsh name for Grandma.) I like Form 4. Watched Coronation Street. My indigestion started.”

03/09/81

“Woke up 8.20. Had breakfast, went to school. Mam went to see headmaster. I am allowed to go to Tech. Watched Top Of The Pops, Ain’t Half Hot Mum finished.

04/09/81

MAM TO OPTICIANS

“Woke up 8.15. Went to school. Had double Gym first two lessons, with Annie Agro. (She sounds delightful, I bet she has a hairy chest.) After school went to Margaret’s birthday party. Got hot dog, doughnut, fairy cake, trifle, can of coke. Watched Spider Man film.”

05/09/81

“Woke up 10.00. Patches comic gone up to 18p. (Bloody outrage.) Watched telly.”

06/09/81

“After dinner, went to Auntie Joan’s.”

A good solid first week. Still don’t know what Blackie is, or our heroine’s relationship to ‘Paul’.

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07/09/81

“Woke up 8.15. Went to school, had double Welsh. Had school dinners. After I came home from school, went out to play with Maggie. Went to Auntie Eleri’s house to give her birthday present.”

08/09/81

“Woke up 8.20. Went to school. Had school dinners again. After school came home. Did my homework. In the evening went to pictures to see Herbie Goes Bananas. It was good.”

09/09/81

“Woke up 8.15. Went to school. Had nice dinner. After I came home did homework. Went to disco in new club in Menai Bridge. It was great, going again soon, I hope. (Me too. If you could get off your tits next time and write about that, us here in the future would appreciate that. Ta.)

10.09.81

“Woke up 8.30. Had chips for dinner. Had loads of homework.”

So much homework, in fact, that S was too busy to write diary entries for the next three days. I’m guessing Welsh homework. Those vowels won’t take themselves out.

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Wait, back up, who the fuck is Tony? I thought Paul was our guy? S, are you cheating on our guy Paul with this upstart Tony? I thought you were different. Victoria Principal clearly approves of this behaviour.

Join me for part 2, where we solve the mystery of ‘Who the fuck is Tony?’ (maybe).

Rainbow episode review: Carry on up the Bungle

Today we’re getting our Indiana Jones pants on and going exploring! Not sure if a guy rips another guy’s heart out, probably not. I think they’ll probably just look at some interesting pebbles. I guess we’ll never know if we don’t start the episode.

Bungle is using binoculars to explore the garden. This is despite the fact that everything in the garden is A) less than six inches away, and B) drawn on. No wonder he looks so confused.

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George manages to out-idiot Bungle by asking Geoffrey if elephants live in nests. They do not. They live in flats and are called Jenny.

Bungle carries on with his ridiculous binoculars plan. What do you know – he’s found some interesting pebbles!

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Those pebbles definitely are interesting due to them not being pebbles. Or if they are, the Rainbow gang should start worrying that radioactive waste has leaked into their garden.

And anyway, I think the one on the right is a Kinder egg inside bit that someone’s stood on.

Next they find a hedgehog, which is definitely real.

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This prompts them to declare that the garden is “like a jungle”, proving that they’ve never been in a jungle, or seen a picture of one, or even heard the word ‘jungle’ before. Although I think you do get hippos in the jungle, but you don’t get broken Kinder eggs and hedgehogs.

I hope Bungle finds some catshit with his binoculars. That’ll learn him.

The gang decide to play jungle explorers, which is brilliant because it means they have to get the dressing up box out. For some reason, Bungle decides ‘pregnant flasher’ is a suitable look for Geoffrey.

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“Bungle, stop being such a twat, I can dress myself,” says Geoffrey. Great job Geoffrey.

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Zippy wonders what it would be like to really be in the jungle. He drifts off into a daydream…

I’m not sure why Zippy is imagining everything being on fire.

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“It’s very hot in this jungle.”

I’m not fucking surprised since it’s on fire.

The rest of the gang catch up with him, and they all stand there crapping on about how they didn’t expect to find things like monkeys and trees in the jungle. I am now 100% convinced they didn’t mean ‘jungle’, they meant ‘Tesco car park’. That would explain the broken Kinder egg.

Meanwhile, we catch Geoffrey during peak eye roll.

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Bungle runs off after a butterfly. Geoffrey sort of makes a half-arsed attempt to shout after him, but not really. I bet he’s secretly pleased.

Geoffrey’s sense of duty prevails, however, and he decides the three of them are going to have to go look for Bungle. Why? In case he gets eaten? By a bear? Out of the four of them, I’d say it’s Bungle who has the best chance of survival in the jungle.

Wow, Bungle’s gone a hell of a long way. It’s night time where he is.

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You know what? I take back the earlier comment about Bungle surviving in the jungle. He might win a fight with, I dunno, that butterfly he was after, but that’s about it.

Bungle’s peril and imminent death are obviously a prefect cue for a Rod, Jane and Freddy song about going out for the day in matching outfits.

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Look guys, I’m sure you’re having a lovely day out, but you can’t leave us with that cliffhanger. Bungle’s about to die! This is really not the time.

Back to Bungle, who hasn’t eaten for at least ten minutes and is wasting away.

Then this happens:

Would it have killed Bungle to sort of look vaguely in the direction the director threw the banana from? I’ve watched this clip 79 times so far.

Geoffrey arrives, and the two of them bump into each other, shitting themselves in the process.

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Then Geoffrey decides that what they all need is a story, after trekking in the jungle for 12 hours and nearly dying.

I can’t concentrate because I can’t stop thinking about that banana thing.

This is my face:

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The story involves Bungle dancing because he’s got itchy balls or something, I forget the details.

Then Zippy’s daydream ends, and we’re back in the garden. So I guess we have Zippy to blame for Bananagate? But there’s no time to think about that now, because the others are all waiting for Zippy to stop dicking around so they can go find more tennis balls and dogshit.

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Seriously. I won’t sleep tonight now.

Bananas.

Fin.

Rainbow episode review: Pow! Zap! Shit!

I love Batman, because he manages to be both a man and a bat, which is all kinds of talented. Therefore, a Rainbow/Batman crossover is right up my street.

Don’t worry, that’s what this episode is, I haven’t just gone mental.

We begin with Zippy sitting in this box:

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Can we all just take a step back and let our minds process that for a minute.

Zippy’s getting on everyone’s nerves by singing the Batman theme on a loop for seven years. Geoffrey’s pissed off because this is apparently stopping him doing his “work”. His work involves looking at some papers that are clipped together, and is NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.

A few minutes later, George comes into the room to find Zippy still in his box. It’s amazing how he’s made it be eight times the size it was. No wonder he looks so pleased with himself.

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Zippy tells George he’s pretending to be Batman. George immediately gets this wrong and calls him ‘Zipman’. George did not do this on purpose, yet instead of throwing him down the stairs for being an idiot, Zippy decides the name ‘Zipman’ is wonderful.

Zippy redeems himself by making George be ‘Bobbin the Boy Blunder’ (still not as good as ‘George the Idiot Wanksock’) and off we go into an action packed knock-off…

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Are you paying attention Affleck? All you need are some burger boxes. I have immediately saved you $20,000,000, minus the cost of the burgers.

Apparently, the evil ‘Joker Geoffrey’ and his friend ‘Sourface Bungle’ want to stop everyone in the world laughing! I’ve got an idea guys – if you want to stop people laughing, show them this blog.

Shit, Geoffrey’s already “wiped the smiles off everyone’s faces”. Now all I can think about is Geoffrey going round giving people backhanders like Jason Statham.

Incidentally, Geoffrey makes a fucking awesome Batman villain. In fact, his bad guy roles are massively underrated in general – you’ve only got to watch his portrayals of ‘Mr Geoffrey’ and ‘Uncle Bill Grumpy‘ to see that.

There’s no time to lose! The Dynamic Duo go off in their box to do some crime fighting.

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Seriously, someone show this episode to Affleck, Nolan or similar.

Meanwhile, Joker Geoffrey and Sourface Bungle are in their hideout, doing evil things like sitting down. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Bungle is fucking blind. How close does he need to hold that comic? He’s literally got it pressed against his face.

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The dastardly pair have stolen all the comics in the world! Geoffrey tells us this via a Bad Guy Speech, while Bungle stands there doing fuck knows what.

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Joker Geoffrey’s next evil plan is to steal all the jokes from the joke shops. I have no idea how this is going to stop people laughing. I’ve never met anyone who laughs at plastic dog poo and those fake ice cubes.

Bungle goes out to get every single bit of stock from every single joke shop in the world. He’s back five minutes later, as if he’d just popped to Tesco. Look at all the hilarious stuff they now have:

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My sides are fucking splitting.

Suddenly, Geoffrey and Bungle are stopped in their evil tracks by a fake rubber spider. They think it’s real, despite Bungle having dumped it on the table ten seconds ago.

This may or may not be important to the plot later.

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Geoffrey spots that it’s a fake and tells Bungle not to be so fucking wet.

Anyway, the pair have bigger things to worry about – Zipman and Bobbin have found their hideout! Geoffrey and Bungle hide.

Zipman and Bobbin find Geoffrey and Bungle by letting a flea out of a tin, on the off chance it will immediately head for them. This is despite Zippy pointing straight at their hiding place (spoiler alert – they’re under that sheet) and going “I don’t think we’re alone. Look, they’re under that sheet there. Look, that one there.”

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Amazingly, their demented plan works. But wait, what’s this? Oh no, it’s a huge rubber spider that’s somehow now dangling on a string from the ceiling!

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This lets Geoffrey and Bungle escape for about three seconds, until they are foiled by Zipman’s invisible wall.

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I don’t care how invisible that wall is, how did they get a wall in the car?

Anyway, this is normally the point where they’d all have a ‘Pow! Sock! ‘Twat!’ fight, but because this is Rainbow, Zippy just orders Bungle to grope Geoffrey until he laughs. It’s like that bit in the lift from Carry On Girls:

This solves everything, and we head back to real life. Geoffrey’s looking at Zippy like he knows about the imaginary groping thing.

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Geoffrey is still trying to do his ‘work’, which seems to involve going round making sure everything they own is still in the house and then ticking it off a list.

He doesn’t want Zippy and George dicking around making noise while he’s trying to work. In fact, you could say he’s acting a bit like Joker Geoffrey! Can you see where this is going?

Congratulations, you win a quid.

I might write to DC and suggest that from now on, Batman just squeezes the bad guys’ tits until they laugh. It seems to work, and he wouldn’t have to do any fighting which might rip his tights.

The Kitchin! – a forgotten 80s classic

Today I’ll be looking back at seminal but short-lived 80s kids’ show The Kitchin! I’m sure the show needs no introduction to many people, but I’ll give a bit of background for my younger readers.

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The Kitchin! was broadcast between 1988 and 1988 on short lived satellite channel KIDZ PLZ, with repeats on BBC airing a few years later. The plot centred around an everyday kitchen, and the utensils that came to life when the owners were out. An interview with creator Malcolm Not stated that Kitchin! Was spelled as such to rhyme with ‘itchin’, due to “there’s always pepper in a kitchen, so we ran with that. But then we realised we’d got sneezing mixed up with itching, but the titles had already been done by then.”

The Kitchin! was a pioneering show, taking advantage of new computer technology to mix filmed footage with animation, creating a surprisingly realistic looking show. Most of the show was created on an Acorn Archimedes; the creators briefly attempted the same graphics on an Amstrad, but that blew up.

I can’t find any episodes of The Kitchin! online, but I have managed to get some screenshots from a VHS I found. Hopefully they’ll release it on DVD soon.

In the meantime, let’s revisit the main characters of The Kitchin!:

Whitebread

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Whitebread was a worm in the shape of a loaf. He was the wise, calming influence of the group, often warning against various madcap schemes. He was heard to say “I told you not to do that you idiot!” at least once in every show. A rumour was started several years ago that, in one episode, Whitebread called someone a “fucking twat”, but these rumours have never been proven. T-shirts bearing Whitebread’s catchphrase were planned at one point, but the makers stopped bothering.

Patula

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Patula, often known as ‘Pat’, was the mum of the group. While Whitebread advised caution, Patula was there to see to the cuts and bruises that had inevitably occurred by the end of each episode. Her caring nature was hindered, however, by her having no arms, so most of the time the best she could do was to say “there there” as the younger characters lay bleeding.

Sally and Peppa

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Sally and Peppa were the show’s mischievous twins. Think Hugs and Tugs from Care Bears, except they were cruets. As they went through the day causing havoc and getting up to stuff, their respective salt and pepper would spill out all over, causing them to become tired. At the end of a couple of episodes, the owners of the kitchen would come back and demand to know where their salt and pepper had gone.

Sally and Peppa were the focus of one of the show’s ‘very special episodes’, in which Sally became empty due to not paying attention to her salt amount. This led Patula to give a talk on how you shouldn’t try to do too much, because you might die.

The Toaster

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Not actually a character, nevertheless The Toaster was an integral part of the show: it was where the characters got their ideas. At the start of each episode, a note would pop out of The Toaster, with something to do written on it. Occasionally, the characters would go to The Toaster, only for bread to pop out. In these episodes, the Kitchin gang had nothing to do, so just sat around until the end credits. These episodes weren’t as popular as the others.

Fork Nell

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Fork Nell was a naïve, comic relief character. She was known for being gullible, and for going along with whatever ideas the utensils came up with. Usually, Sally and Peppa would drag her into their schemes, as she was taller and could reach things. In the interview linked above, Malcolm Not said: “I wanted to have a stupid, naïve woman one, because the show has to have a level of plausibility. Kids won’t go for talking kitchen utensils, but they won’t question a naïve woman one. That’s how they are. I know forks are male, but it was creative licence.”

The Sockets

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Featured heavily in a lot of shows; the role of The Sockets was clearly an attempt at a PSA within the show. The utensils, particularly Sally and Peppa, were always being warned by Whitebread not to go near The Sockets, as “they will do you harm. Harm. Harm.”

In the episode NO!, Sally and Peppa persuade Fork Nell to stick her head in The Sockets, “to see what’s inside.” A fun piece of trivia for you: The main animator, Howard Malcolm, wanted to cut away to a comedy ‘BOOM’, something akin to the old Batman shows. But Malcolm Not overruled this, insisting that kids needed to learn. The end result generated 756 complaints.

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As well as the main characters, various kitchen odds and ends were brought in for cameos. These included: Milcolm (a pun on Malcolm, which no one seemed to get), The Teabagging Crew (teabags who lived in a jar and had parties), and the Cup Mafia, who no one ever saw but the characters were always afraid of.

The Kitchin! was, in my opinion, way ahead of its time, alerting kids to the dangers of an everyday kitchen while still being entertaining and fun. I just wish I could find a recording of the theme tune, but I can’t so I’ll have to write the lyrics as faithfully as I can remember them:

“The kitchin, what a mess!

Only women wear a dress,

Watch the kettle, it’s nearly done,

In the kitchin, we’ll have fun!”