This one's for you Charlie. I read Charlie Brooker's column religously to jolt or depress my Monday morning depending on what he's harping on about. This morning, Brooker has added his own two cents to the mass of post-riots analysis and cites modern TV as a glut of bling-bling propaganda, a far cry from the British TV of 70s/80s when we grew up with four channels of slightly naff but lovingly fuddy duddy programming. I'm somewhat trapped in a pattern of being somewhat fascinated by the MTV Cribs/Sweet Sixteen/Pimp this, Pimp that type of TV (which I associate with wasing time in hotel rooms as I don't have MTV) which is then followed up by a feeling of wanting to douse my brain with a sponge because I feel total repugnance for what I've just seen.
I think these are the symptoms of being an 80s baby, a 90s child/teen and going about the world as a young person in the 00s. Whilst I don't share Brooker's complete renunciation of MTV culture, his recollections of kids TV shows with "presenters cheerfully making puppets out of old yoghurt pots" hit a chord though. Without watching the box as much as I used to, it's hard to compare, but that spirit of making something out of nothing, practise-makes-perfect, working hard to yield results were things that were drilled in through the sort of media I engaged with back in the day. I therefore had to dig out some of my own significant pre-internet TV/paper-based moments not to try and say "Hey, wasn't it so great back then?" We all know that rose tinted vision isn't going to solve present day shortcomings but for my part, the fact that I still carry these specific memories goes to show how much they did impact on the way I do, think and carry on in the world.
This blog for instance – is it not just a far more evolved version of my poor attempt of a Blue Peter Thunderbird Tracy Island? With each project/task I do – is the giddiness/verve over the results not similar to seeing bits of Fimo jewellery come out of the oven aged eight? Constantly asking why/how questions to TV presenters on the telly (who would never reply back of course) points to my incessant need to KNOW everything, which makes me one of the more annoying journalists/members of press to deal with at press days/trips etc.
I've focused purely on period-specific things that will probably only be hazy memories and jumble sale items to most people. Literature and films thankfully fall into a regenerating category which aren't buried so easily.
1) Come on, surely everyone in Britain remembers THIS Blue Peter episode? It didn't matter that in my house, we rarely had margerine tubs to spare or the right shaped plant pot bottoms. I still got down with slathering floury paste paper mache mess over anything and everything. I thought it was an awesome idea to add lumpy misshapen bulges to a perfectly existing bowler hat. Don't think dad felt the same way. Watch part 2 when the 'fun' finishing touches are put on the island. Also, is it just me or is John Leslie's raglan sleeved jacket looking very Proenza Schouler A/W 10? Had to put it out there…
2) Tony Hart holds a special place for most people my age. His was a gentle and calm approach with ambient music. He led me into uppity hoity toity art stores where tubes of oil paint and brushes were eye popping expensive in my eyes. My Christmas supply of Caran D'ache pencils were put to good use all because of Hart. He did get me a little obsessed with smudging things a bit too much (chalk pastels were my downfall) but Hart really taught me about the merits of having 'art hour' at least twice a week at home. It's probably going to be laughable when I come to have kids of my own and I try to impose 'art hour'. Afterall babies will probably come with chips programmed with Cezanne/Degas/Picasso brushstroke techniques in their heads.
3) I rarely defected from BBC. Something about Edd the Duck, Andy Peters and a broom cupboard that kept me stuck on the channel and the fact that my parents thought ITV was a little bit 'dodgy'. For a brash and slightly more crafty take on art though, I needed my fix of Neil Buchanan's Art Attack. I especially liked the HUUUUUGE art attacks when Neil would somehow have the helicoptor vision to create giant art pieces on fields and beaches. I always suspected there were cheat lines though.
4) Google Fun Fax (Filofax's CHILD spinoff) and you'll get a better idea of the subsequent versions it spawned. After going through my Fun Fax and Spy Fax, I wanted to go all sophisticated and upgrade to Style Fax. Style Fax came and went in a flash and I was probably one of the few saddos to buy one. I think my mum liked the idea of 'Style' being doled out in neatly categorised tabs (she was a fan of folders, tabs and anything that would 'organise' life). I learnt about COOL and HOT colours and spent hours trying to figure out whether I had olive-based skin or not. This was my first interaction with the word 'calorie' which had zero meaning to me because I couldn't figure out whether my daily bowl of rice hindered and helped my 'weight maintenance'. It kept on telling me to re-dye my jeans to 'refresh' them even though I never wore jeans so I dyed shirts instead to variable results.
5) I can't find a picture to illustrate this AT ALL but remember those ads which would urge people to buy introductory magazines for a special price of ¬£1.95!!!!!! on specialist subjects like dinosaurs, doll's houses, quilting or other such subjects that no publisher would dream of putting out paper mags on these days? Well, I was a fool who didn't read the RRP4.95 small print in the ads and begged my mum to get me the introductory issue on doll's houses with a teensy weensy freebie chair to start me off only to find out that we couldn't afford subsequent issues. So I'd stare at my teeny weeny chair trying to get some meaning out of it. Then I'd string it up into a necklace and move on to the next introductory offer mag…
6) If ¬£4.95 was far too much for a magazine, then Bunty/Jackie journals were certainly out of the question in our house. Thank god for jumble sales and charity shops where I'd encounter these journals second-hand, that come with useful notes and page folds. The comic strip characters were annoying most of the time and the resulting morals were never all that satisfying. I did however soak up whatever style tips they doled out, which most of the time made no sense to me because they were dated. It involved a lot of fabric dye, cutting things up and lots of simple running stitches.