Suggested Audio Candy:
Graham Gouldman “Now That We’ve Made It”
I regularly mention my immense love for this particular decade and make no secret of my affection. It stands to reason that I will hold it in lofty regard as it provided me my growing pains and teenage kicks. It is the epoch where Keeper developed his love for film, found his musical feet and discovered himself sexually so there are three stellar reasons why I look back with rose-tinted spectacles.
It’s more than just nostalgic disillusionment however, I genuinely believe it to be a time of great significance, John Carpenter’s playground, the dawn of the new romantic, the age of the video nasty and, furthermore, the decade when horror stepped forth from the shadows and became recognized. It was a work in progress, a time of early technological advancements and transmogrification.
Keeper has decided that it is high time certain 80s pleasures were revisited and it just so happens that I have archives filled with pointless data so I’m just the cat to act as tour guide. If you were born in the nineties then fear not, it is always encouraged to explore your roots and, in the case of the glorious 80s, they were just getting things prepared for ya.
Trading cards were all the rage; films like Gremlins churned out merchandise and offered a sweetener in the shape of a starched chewing gum, with the most bizarre tang of bland chalkiness….oh! and your cards of course. Kids would stroll around the school park, feeling like the shit as they grasped their banded stockpile of swapsies to fob off to unsuspecting first-graders. In the UK Soccer was the focus and children hung out for the elusive glimmer of the ‘shiny’. This holy card would feature the team’s crest and would be bejeweled with silver and gold seasoning and a little more depth of mass.
Numpties would select carefully which foil wrap was the weightiest and it developed into a fine science. Every child desired to fill their sticker album but this is where it all got a little masochistic. These unscrupulous organizations printing these little slides of crack would mass produce some cards and sparingly plop out other ‘rares’. These legendary one-offs came steeped in folklore and anyone fortunate to hold one in their greasy paws became public enemy number one.
For a self-confessed licker of the macabre such as myself it was all about those immortal Garbage Pail Kids. Forget the movie, it was the cards which stick in the ole’ Hippocampus. These deranged babes in the wood bore the most ludicrous mantles such as Sicky Vicky and Potty Scotty. Need I explain further. I shall let gallery visuals speak post-article and I’m sure many of you will feel that swell of affectionate mucus inside as you glance. back over the Garbage Pail Year Book.
Board games were in vogue and every home possessed at least three of the following inventory: Game of Life, Ker-Plunk, Buckaroo, Jaws, Downfall, Mouse Trap, Hungry Hippos, Battleships, Guess Who, Connect 4, Operation and, Keeper’s personal darling…Frustration. Then there was Twister, an incestuous flurry of family foreplay. If you were really lucky and it was festive season, you’d feel the watery slap of granny’s colostomy bag against your cheek one side and Uncle Les’ putrid junk the other.
Mr Frosty allowed you to manufacture your own tasteless ice pops and Girls World turned you into necrophiliac by beheading a life-sized Barbie and allowing you to brush its flaxen locks maniacally. This was the piece of kit girls locked away from their siblings as they presented an entirely different set of suggestions to a young lad training his Johnson.
The worst thought-out gimmick had to be Bluebird’s A-la-carte kitchen which encouraged little ‘uns to learn their way around the stove. Parents loathed these monstrosities as they would discern those squeaking wheels growing closer like Damian’s creaking tricycle. The words “Wake up Daddy…BREAKFAST’S READY” would invariably be met with the cursory glance to ascertain that it was indeed cold baked beans on a crudely carved slice of Swiss roll, followed by the barked words “Fuck off back to bed, Daddy’s trying to get some sleep…I love you sweetie”.
Fashion was dictated by the emergence of bold musical ambassadors such as Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. Sweatbands became commonplace, leg warmers were a must and bangle shares went through the roof. This period was not about individuality, it was the era of the flock. Adam appeared with his Ants, Japan and Gary Numan made it jive to slap on the war paints, accompanied by the gently intensifying audio of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax. It was a time to express yourself.
John Hughes, John Carpenter and Steve Martin all played a tremendous part in my filmic awakening. Many of my favorite flicks are from the 80s, the reason for this is that each one houses a memory of a time when life was still fair. Sounds glum I know, but there is a lot to be said for wide-eyed wonder. Generally life has intermediate lessons to school you for the most part whilst still developing. You’re finding yourself every day and unraveling a little more of who you truly are and what your purpose is.
I didn’t lose my virginity until later but there was a certain degree of groundwork laid. My quaking feelers learned to navigate a girl’s panties. It was a little like pinning the tail on the donkey at first and I recall once finding a subsequent cavern which I would explore in more detail later on. For now I logged it in the banks. Meanwhile, braziers presented a unique set of challenges and taunted me with their Rubix-esque complexities. Of course, once you begin the struggle you must proceed until the bloody end. Cue great amusement laced with indignity.
My first pair of breasticles were checked benignly for lumps and I believe it was a thorough examination. Although my digits were formally introduced to the sticky cathedral, I wasn’t actually faced with a growler until the early 90s so it still held a mystical ambiguity. Pubic thatches were dense jungles back then and traversing ‘the bush’ was often treacherous with no blueprint to refer for Intel.
I often take a leisurely stroll through the 1980s; it was my time, recollections are mostly happy and the world was a fascinating place to inhabit. Therefore I shall end with Keeper’s Christmas list to Santa, ten items (no particular order) which you may have forgotten existed and may give you the warm glow inside they infinitely give me.