Having gone into great detail how the television
of the 1980’s has tormented me and left me mentally scarred, I now turn to the set I viewed much of it on. I am not
(believe it or not) anally retentive enough to remember the exact model number or specification of the set. Nor can I remember
the exact moment when my Dad returned from work struggling up the path armed with a colour TV set, to finally drag us out
of the dark ages! However I would lay a hefty bet that up until 1983 at least, we were one of a few families left in Shepshed
who watched on a black and white TV set.
Remember Snooker commentator "Whispering" Ted
Lowe who once said "for those viewers watching in black and white, the pink ball is just behind the green" - My Dad would
vehemently argue that you could watch snooker and football quite comfortably on black and white, it was, like so many things,
simply a case of “getting used to it!”.
Colour TV’s back then, believe it or
not, were seen as a status symbol. In the early 1980’s, you were somebody if you had one – usually rented from
Rumbelows or Stuart Westmoreland’s in Loughborough. My Grandma and Grandad were recruited as babysitters once by a well-to-do
couple who lived in a big house in Lockington, near the Church of St Nicholas (where I was christened in 1974!). I remember
visiting them in Hemington one Saturday afternoon and on the way back, we dropped them off in Lockington and my Gran said,
as they walked up their pebbled-drive “They’ve got colour TV you know!”. For them, it was an evening of
rare luxury watching Larry Grayson’s “Generation Game” in glorious technicolour and as much Sherry
as they could drink, plus a few quid for looking after the kids!
Their own TV set was even more archaic than
our own! It was a huge Bush black and white set that was operated by putting 50p in a black-meter connected to the side! They
rented it from “Electric Legs”, a man in Castle Donington who owned the TV rental and repairs shop
there for donkey's years!
in Shepshed, I was treated to my own portable set in 1981 – it
was black and white, of course and I remember being grounded for some misdemeanour (conveniently
I cannot recall what heinous crime I had committed!!!) and watching most of the 1982 World Cup on that set. I winced when
Scotland were crushed 4-1 by Brazil, Scotland being the nationality of my Grandmother so obviously I had a soft-spot for them.
I also remember the gallant effort of the Honduran team.
However I digress. Another reason not to have colour-tv was the licence fee. My research shows
that in 1982 it cost £15 a year to licence a black and white set whereby a colour licence would set you back a whopping £46
– over three times as much.
We never had a phone until at least 1981. A rectangular shaped turquoise
thing it was and I kept phoning up our next door but one neighbours the Mitchell's, awestruck by the novelty of it. We had
some Busby postcards (Busby being the British Telecom mascot of the era) to send to our family and friends. I also became
addicted to "Dial-a-disc" or "Music in yer earhole dial a disc!" - I think they changed the record at least once
a week. All was fine until my parents got the bill! The phone however opened up a whole new world of useless information for
me, long before the www! - such as weather forecasts and cricket scores, it was innovative stuff of the time!
Gadjet-mania did not just include TV’s, there were game consoles too. I have just had
a quick count at our home, there is one Nintendo Wii, four Nintendo DS's, three Nintendo Gameboys, One Sony PSP and One
Sony Playstation II. Back then, an Atari console would set you back around £300 or for about a third of the price, you could
have something called a Grandstand TV game which plugged in to your set and offered two-dimensional “square” tennis
type games. In 1984, I did receive for Christmas a Sinclair Spectrum home-computer, a 48K model (it was second-hand, my Dad
bought it off a work-mate but it had about 50 games with it). The games had to be “loaded” by cassette, it would
take between 30-90 seconds worth of whirring and crackling before the game would be ready to be played on the black and white
portable set. My favourite was “Manic Miner” and then “Jet Set Willy” – ironic games bearing
in mind this was the era that Maggie Thatcher was busy closing-down the pits! Graphic wise it was limited, but I spent ages
on it, but unlike the kids of today there were other things I did.
Another gadget my Gran paid a small-fortune through the catalogue for was her sandwich toaster.
They became very en-vogue in the early 1980’s, but were responsible for creating a lethal byproduct, molten lava melted
cheese! – I remember being allowed to borrow the sandwich toaster whilst my Gran went to Bridlington on holiday once,
but having severely burnt the roof of my mouth with some nuclear corned-beef they soon lost their appeal.
And how could I forget our
Soda Stream? It was every tubby schoolkids dream, turn tap-water into fizzy pop – it was the talk of the kids on Blacksmiths
Ave for at least a fortnight, as I entertained my mates – but the gas-bottles soon ran flat and if you did not mix the
right amount of syrup to carbonated water, it was a disaster usually it turned out either sickly sweet or coloured water!