Ten people you WILL meet if you go speed dating

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Whether you on a serious mission for love or just fancy a bit of a laugh, speed dating can be lots of fun. But don’t be surprised if you bump into one or all of the following…

1. The no-nonsense type

“Do you want to get married? How about children? How many children do you want? Do you want to start a family?”

Er, not this minute, no. Granted you only have three or minutes to get some basic info but sometimes a “hello” or a “how’s your evening so far?” can work wonders. There will be time for them to find out the rest later. Or, in this case, probably not.

2. The total nonsense type

“If you were a colour, what colour would you be?”

The exact opposite of the above, some people seem to think asking the most obscure questions ever will unlock some deeply hidden doorway into your personality while asking silly questions like: “what is your name?” or “what job do you do?” will not. In reality, these types usually end up revealing very little other than that you don’t want to spend any more time in their company.

3. The time traveller

Three minutes is not a long time but like Doctor Who some people are capable of stretching it to apparently infinite lengths. Admittedly, this works both ways. A good speed dater will make three minutes last three seconds. A bad one will leave you feeling like you’ve been trapped in an awkward loveless marriage for thirty nine years.

4. Er…haven’t we “met”?

Yes, it’s surprising how often speed daters bump into someone they’ve met before. In fact, sometimes they’ve done more than just “meet” them before. This can be awkward.

5. The sex seeker

Let’s face it: some people are looking for an enduring permanent relationship. But some people just go speed dating in the hope of easy sex. Perhaps you are the same? Perhaps you both like each other? In which case, perhaps dispense with the box ticking formalities and go for it. But be warned: they may well be at the same speed dating event next month (see point 4).

6. The special interest

A surprising number of people are only capable of discussing one thing and will bore on all night about their specialist subject. This may range from; why the new Doctor Who is great, why astrology is actually not stupid at all to the ups and downs of their most recent relationship. Which turns out to have been in 2006.

7. The friend

Speed dating is a lot more fun if you go along with a friend of the opposite sex. This gives you a welcome respite as you both get a few minutes to catch up on the evening from an alternative perspective. On the other hand, this probably isn’t the best time to reveal your long standing undying love for your friend, should you harbour any such feelings.

8. The interloper

Although they are not really supposed to do it, some people intercept these events as a means to promote some other social event or organisation. Clue: they are sometimes about twenty years than everyone else.

9. The joker

Some people just don’t take these things seriously. Be wary of anyone who is clearly drunk or otherwise intoxicated (some people have been known to take the “speed” bit of speed dating a bit too literally). Also watch out for anyone who attempts to do the ice bucket challenge during the evening. Or any girls who have chosen to hire a wedding dress for the night just to freak all the men out.

10. The norm

Despite all the above, most people who go speed dating are relatively normal. So, relax and enjoy your evening.

General Election memories 1: 1979

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Peterborough.   May 3rd 1979.

I’ll let you into a secret. I don’t actually remember the 1979 General Election at all. I was born in December 1976 so was not even two and a half years old n May 1979. I’m not sure I even knew an election was going on, let alone one of the four most pivotal General Elections of the 20th century. Had you asked me, I doubt I’d have had any clear views on either the merits of monetarism, the impact of the Winter of Discontent or even on who should succeed James Callaghan as leader of the Labour Party.

I was basically an idiot.

Instead, I wasted my time with such trifles as learning to talk (something I’ve still not entirely mastered), filling time between episodes of Jamie and the Magic Torch and throwing tantrums. I lived in Peterborough with my parents (who were both then about the same age that I am now), an older brother who was just entering his teens and a sister who was nearly ten.

I’m not convinced I would have enjoyed the election much anyway. I have grown up to be a Labour supporter and 1979 was to prove a bad year for Labour. Labour had been heading for victory only a few months before with Prime Minister Jim Callaghan always more popular than his opponent, the eventual victor Margaret Thatcher. This fact suggests to me in itself that Labour’s stint in office was not the unmitigated disaster some have subsequently claimed it was. But the series of crippling strikes dubbed “the Winter of Discontent” wrecked Labour’s chances. The Tories fought a slick campaign. Thatcher held a calf in public at one point. Tory posters long unemployment queues (in fact portrayed by Young Conservatives) proclaimed “Labour isn’t working”. Some might think this a bit of a cheek in retrospect. Unemployment was at 1.3 million and falling in May 1979. By 1980, under Thatcher, it had hit two million, a new post-war high. By 1982, it was at three million. By 1986, 3.4 million!

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At any rate, Labour lost. Peterborough’s Labour MP Michael Ward fell to Tory Dr Brian Mawhinney. An unknown named John Major would win his neighbouring seat of Huntington for the Tories. Mawhinney later revealed had been inspired to stand by a divine voice speaking to him on a visit to Peterborough Cathedral. At any rate, although no one knew it then, he and the Tories would hold power until 1997 (when Mawhinney cannily switched seats), then a tremendously futuristic science fiction year by which I, then a toddler, would be old enough to vote myself. Michael Ward died in 2009, but his daughter Alison Seabeck is an MP and Shadow Minister today. Her husband Nick Raynsford is also a Labour MP.

The Tories won a majority of 43. Labour got a bigger share of the vote than David Cameron’s Tories did in 2010. Callaghan (who, if he were still alive, would now be 102) lost despite being personally more popular than his opponent Mrs Thatcher. Ed Miliband please take note: the least popular of the two main party leaders has never won a General Election in the thirty five years since. 1979 was unusual.

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Britain thus had its first woman Prime Minister albeit one who didn’t agree with Women’s Lib and didn’t even seem to like any other women very much. The Sun went Tory for the first time ever in 1979 and many followed its election day headline’s suggestion to “Give the girl a chance!”

I was blissfully unaware of all this, too afraid of fictional witches as portrayed in storybooks and on TV to worry about real life ones.

“Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is despair, may we bring hope,” the new Prime Minister said on arriving in Downing Street, claiming to be quoting Francis of Assisi.

In fact, St. Francis never said any such thing and we would soon learn that as an introduction to the Thatcher era, these words would prove staggeringly inappropriate.

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A century of George Brown

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September 2014 marks the centenary of the birth of one of the most eccentric Labour politicians in British political history. George Brown was a leading figure in Harold Wilson’s government and deserves to be remembered as more than just a drunk. He was, however, an erratic sometimes aggressive figure who will always be associated with Private Eye’s famous euphemism ” tired and emotional”.
Like the “unwell” in “Jeffrey Bernard is unwell”, tired and emotional was usually taken to mean “pissed again”.
Although he rose to be Foreign Secretary and almost became party leader, Brown’s career was blighted by his tendency to get drunk on very small amounts of alcohol. Ironically, Harold Wilson, Brown’s chief rival who ultimately bested him by becoming party leader and then PM is now known to have been effectively an alcoholic while in office. But he concealed it much better than Brown did.
Here are some of the highs and lows of Brown’s career (he is no relation to Gordon Brown):

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1914: Brown is born in Lambeth. He will prove one of the few genuinely working class figures in Harold Wilson’s Labour cabinet of 1964-70. His father is a van driver who is beaten up during the 1926 General Strike.
1945: Is elected MP for Belper in the post-war Labour landslide.
1956: Has a row with Soviet leader Khrushchev during a special private dinner in honour of the Soviet leader’s visit. Khrushchev is later quoted as saying that if he were British he would vote Tory.
1950s: Brown launches a physical assault on colleague Richard Crossman after the latter criticised him in the press. Crossman is physically larger than Brown and ends the assault by sitting on him.
1963: Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell (a Brown ally) dies suddenly. Writing in his diary, Tony Benn expects Brown to be elected as his successor. In the end, he is beaten by Harold Wilson, something Brown never gets over, partly because if concerns about Brown’s private behaviour. Some see the choice as between “a crook and a drunk”.
Brown famously humiliated himself on the evening of President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. http://chrishallamworldview.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/the-strange-case-of-eli-wallach-george-brown-and-the-death-of-jfk/
1964: Labour return to power with Brown as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs in charge of the National Plan.
Brown’s car breaks down on one occasion as he attempts to transport the only copy of the Plan. He flags down a bearded man and a pretty young girl in a Mini (leaving his driver behind) ordering them to take him to Whitehall, rudely insisting that he is on “important government business”. Rather surprisingly, they agree to do so. On being dropped off, Brown realises he has left the Plan in the backseat of the Mini. Luckily, for him the couple return it before morning.
1968: Brown finally resigns as Foreign Secretary. During his tenure, he has threatened to resign eighteen times, a post-war record. He attempts to retract his resignation but fails, effectively marking the end of his political career. He remains Deputy Prime Minister until 1970.
1970: Brown goes down fighting in the 1970 General Election, his defeat after 25 years in Belper inevitable, not because of his behaviour but actually due to boundary changes (Labour unexpectedly lose power in the election anyway, returning in 1974).
During one speech in Norfolk, a pretty girl in the audience shouts “Never!” Brown breaks off to say:
“My dear girl, there are some big words which little girls should not use and “never” is one of them.
Later in an early version of the 2001 “Prescott punch” Brown punches a long haired student heckler to the ground. Bizarrely, a number of journalists assist Brown. “I left one long-haired young man…very surprised indeed…” Brown later wrote “when he found himself lying on the floor as the result of the accidental collision of his chin with my fist.”
Brown loses Belper and never returns as an MP. He changes his surname to George-Brown to ensure that on receiving a peerage both names are included in the title Lord George-Brown.
1976: Brown resigns from the party. The Times reports “Lord George-Brown drunk is a better man than Harold Wilson sober. Brown falls over during the announcement, widely assumed, wrongly in fact, due to drunkeness.
By coincidence, Wilson resigns suddenly as PM only a few days later.
1981: Like many right wing pro-European Labour politicians, Brown joins the fledgling SDP.
1982: Brown, aged nearly seventy, leaves his wife after thirty five years, to move in with his personal assistant, then in her thirties. He does not change his will, however, and Lady George-Brown inherits the estate on his death.
1985: Brown converts to Catholicism shortly before his death from cirrhosis of the liver, aged 71.

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Book Review: Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe by Amy Pascale

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Review: Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe

Amy Pascale

Published by: Aurum Press

Joss Whedon was born to be a writer. Not only were both his father and grandfather, successful writers of radio and TV but he even managed to have an unhappy childhood. How could he fail?

As one of Whedon’s colleagues puts it: “if Joss had had a single happy day at high school, none of us would be here.” He proved equally socially awkward in the UK as well as the US, attending Winchester School in Hampshire the early Eighties. In short, he was geek long before it was fashionable

As an adult, Joss Whedon would become one of the most accomplished TV and movie writers of the last twenty years. But he’s certainly had his ups and downs as Amy Pascale’s wonderfully thorough biography reveals.

His first job, writing for sitcom Roseanne was generally frustrating with only one of his scripts really getting to the screen, albeit in a particularly good episode in which cynical daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has a poem read out at school. Whedon’s first film also had a neat twist: what if one of the dippy high school girls (a “Buffy”) typically killed off in horror films asserted herself and became a vampire slayer herself? But Whedon was young and lost control of the project. The end result in 1992 (the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Kristy Swanson) was technically a hit but pleased few people who watched it, least of all Whedon himself. Something similar happened with Whedon’s later attempt to revive the Alien franchise, Alien Resurrection. Whedon’s script was good but the directors, the Jeunet brothers went their own way.

Whedon’s attempts to save Waterworld from disaster also fell on deaf ears largely due to resistance from star Kevin Costner. Whedon found the production of the 1995 sci-fi film in disarray “This guy has gills man! What on Earth were you guys thinking?” Whedon recalls thinking on his arrival.

However, when Whedon’s script doctoring has been given full rein as in the cases of Toy Story and Speed, Whedon not only “saved” both movies, but made them amongst the most memorable films of the Nineties. Actress Sandra Bullock to some extent owes her career to Whedon’s love of strong female characters for her winning turn in her breakthrough role.

It was the return of another such character Buffy, now played by Sarah Michelle Gellar now on TV which brought about Whedon’s most perfectly realised project and the main topic for much of this book. Building on the foundations of groundbreaking mid-Nineties teen dramas My So Called Life and Party of Five, Buffy was never massive ratings hit but nevertheless changed TV forever. With the characters speaking in their own witty highly sophisticated lingo reflecting Whedon’s love of Shakespeare, Buffy also spawned classic episodes Hush (in all of the main characters are temporarily rendered speechless), The Body (in which Buffy’s mother dies suddenly, echoing the death of Whedon’s own mother ten years earlier) and Once More With Feeling (the hugely acclaimed musical episode).

Buffy also spawned the successful spin off Angel. Yet Whedon’s career faced a setback in 2003 and 2004 when he suddenly went from being the master of three series – Buffy, Angel and sci-fi drama Firefly – to the master of none when all three shows ended. Just as Whedon revived the failed film of Buffy for TV with huge success, acclaimed but short lived TV show Firefly was revived for the big screen as Serenity. But though good, the film too failed at the box office.

Although clearly a huge Whedon fan Amy Pascale never shirks from dealing with Whedon’s failures (TV show Dollhouse flopped, various projects such as an animated series of Buffy never got made) to his successes which include a production of Much Ado About Nothing to the current TV series Agents of SHIELD as well as the recent huge smash hit movie Avengers Assemble. Amy Pascale has produced an essential guide to one of the greatest screenwriters of our time as he enters his fiftieth year.

Twenty years of What A Carve Up!

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April 1994 saw the publication of perhaps the most fiercely anti-Thatcherite novel ever written: What A Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe.

It is a furiously angry as well as a funny book, but do not assume it is exclusively political. The novel’s action darts back to far beyond the Thatcherite Eighties veering between the decades from the Second World War to shortly after the Lady’s fall from power in late 1990. In fact, only one major character, the turncoat Henry Winshaw, is a politician. Throw in a recurring fixation with the fairly obscure Carry On style film starring Sid James and Kenneth Connor, a ninety year old gay private detective, a bitter attack on the post-Thatcherite public transport system and that’s still only scratching the surface of this marvellously incisive novel.

The novel is the primarily the tale of the Winshaws, the horrendous family who the book’s narrator is charged with writing the biography of. Echoing the mock gothic theme of the film the book is linked to (although not based on), the Winshaws live in a blustery isolated manor house in northern England. In the film, Kenneth Connor’s character is brought to the house by the prospect of an inheritance. Instead, he encounters murder and romance in the form of an infatuation with a beautiful girl played by Shirley Eaton, later better known for her role in Goldfinger.

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The link between the film and the book is an odd one. For example, one scene in the novel sees a character eavesdropping on the filming of the production in 1961 before being shooed off by the actor Sid James. Meanwhile, another character Tabitha Winshaw has been driven mad by the suspicion that her family had a role in the death of her brother in the Second World War. This echoes the character in the film who thinks she is still a suffragette and living fifty years in the past. But Tabitha’s fears do seem to have some foundation. At any rate, knowledge of the film is not essential to enjoying the book (I myself only saw the film in full a couple of years ago).

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There is much to enjoy. My personal favourite sequences are the extracts from the diaries of Henry Winshaw, an unscrupulous man who travels from being a selfish Labour MP during the Wilson era too an unprincipled right wing media whore in old age. The few brief diary entries perfectly reflect his self importance (he is convinced Harold Wilson “hates and despises” him but the book’s footnote reveals Wilson never even knew who he was) and his betrayal as in a sort of reverse of Enoch Powell’s actions he suddenly urges his supporters to vote Tory on the eve of the February 1974 General Election.

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There is more. Much more. Happily, the book has not overshadowed Coe’s subsequent career. He is as known for the excellent Rotter’s Club (which has been televised) as for this and his superb The Rain Before It Falls marked a total departure.

Every one of Coe’s nine novels to date is worth reading. But twenty years on, What A Carve Up! remains his masterpiece.

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Book review: Dominion by C.J. Sansom

Originally posted on Chris Hallam's World View:

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Britain 1952 and the nation should be enjoying the fruits of the end of post-war austerity and a new Elizabethan age.

But history has taken a horrendous wrong turn in C.J. Sansom’s all too plausible novel. For this is a world in which the appeaser Lord Halifax became Prime Minister instead of Winston Churchill in 1940. Instead of “fighting in the fields and in the streets”, Halifax and his Cabinet opted to sue for peace with the Nazis in the face of apparently certain defeat after Dunkirk. Hitler’s terms seem generous. As in 1938, the people are delighted as full blown war seems to have again been averted. Only over time, does the true cost of British capitulation become clear.

By 1952, Britain is emotionally and physically drained by the strain of Nazi domination and a seemingly endless war with the Soviet Union. The government is an unholy coalition of…

View original 351 more words

Why Richard Nixon was pretty bad, after all

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Forty years after his resignation as US president and twenty years after his death, many have sought to revise the general opinion about disgraced US president Richard Nixon. But though he did achieve successes, perhaps it’s worth remembering: he was known as “Tricky Dicky” for a reason…

The Pink Lady campaign

Nixon played dirty from an early stage, shamelessly exploiting the post-war Red Scare to demolish his Democrat opponent, the actress Helen Gahagan Douglas in his 1950 campaign for the US Senate.  Although she was basically a New Deal Democrat, Nixon labelled her “the Pink Lady…pink right down to her underwear” and had thousands of pink leaflets distributed saying the same thing. Douglas lost and gave up politics. Nixon won by a landslide but at a price: he would be known as “Tricky Dicky” forever.

Sabotaged peace talks

Having lost the 1960 election narrowly to JFK, Nixon wasn’t prepared to do so again in 1968. But President Johnson’s halt to the bombing in Vietnam in October was calculated to help Nixon’s opponent Johnson’s Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Nixon used an intermediary to sabotage the peace talks, something the Humphrey tem knew about, in fact, confident of victory, they stated quiet. Instead, Nixon won narrowly. The truth wasn’t revealed until after his death in 1994.

Foreign policy dishonest

Nixon was elected claiming to have a “secret plan to end the war”. In fact, he had no plan. He first attempted to win the war as  Johnson had, also illegally invading Cambodia before ultimately withdrawing the US presence ensuring a Communist victory (in fairness, probably an inevitable outcome whatever he did). Nixon’s administration also backed General Pinochet’s bloody coup against the democratically elected Allende government in Chile.

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Obsessed with his “enemies”

Nixon generally confused legitimate and fair political opponents with enemies of the state. His “enemies list” included everyone from Senator Ted Kennedy (perhaps understandably) to entertainers like Bill Cosby and Barbara Streisand.

Watergate

In 1972, having sabotaged the primary campaign of his most feared opponent Senator Ed Muskie, the Nixon team’s attempts to wiretap and destroy their political opponents fell flat when a botched break-in at Democrat HJQ led to the Watergate scandal which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. No scandal, other than the Iran-Contra scandal, has come close to Watergate in terms of severity. Nixon lied repeatedly, humiliated his country and himself and destroyed his own presidency.

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DVD review: Friday Night Dinner Series 2

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Friday Night Dinner: Season 2

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If you’ve never seen Friday Night Dinner before, lucky you: you are in for a treat.

Robert Popper’s sitcom has a laughably simple premise. A middle aged married Jewish couple Martin and Jackie Goodman (Paul Ritter and sitcom veteran Tamsin Greig) are joined every Friday evening for dinner by their two twentysomething sons Adam and Jonny (Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal).

That’s really all there is to it. And it’s hilarious.

Much of the humour comes from the silliness of the two sons who in the first episode find themselves engaged in a virtual house civil war over Adam’s childhood toy bunny “Buggy”. The duo later engage in a further feud when it emerges Jonny is having an affair with an older woman at his work.

Yet juvenile though they are, the Goodman sons are at least still on Planet Earth. The funniest characters are the eccentrics notably Paul Ritter’s Dad. Occasionally deaf, incapable of keeping his shirt on for an entire episode, prone to hiding in his shed or telling poor jokes (“a lovely bit of squirrel, love!”) and often seemingly oblivious to hygiene or indeed any external events, he is a brilliant comic creation.

The same could also be said of the Goodmans’ truly bonkers next door neighbour, Jim, played splendidly in ludicrously large glasses by Mark Heap. Perpetually turning up at the door during dinner, partly to angle for some food himself, partly because he is clearly besotted with family matriarch Jackie (Greig), Jim is always accompanied by his dog Wilson, who he actually appears to be terrified of. Heap is every bit as great in this role as he was as the artist/loner Brian in Spaced or indeed the sexually frustrated Doctor Adam Statham in Green Wing.

And that’s just the main cast. Support comes from “Horrible Grandma” (who insists on bringing her own turkey in a bag on attending Christmas Dinner), “Auntie” Val, Nan and her truly terrifying octogenarian boyfriend Mr. Morris, a man obsessed with “slanderers” and prone to pulling light fittings out of the wall during his frequent fits of rage.

A truly classic comedy, this has taken its time getting to DVD (it was first shown nearly two years’ ago). The third series was broadcast on Channel 4 just this summer. It cannot come to DVD soon enough.

Special Features:

Six episodes plus the 2012 Christmas Special

Series 1 Recap (not really necessary and won’t really fill you in if you’ve forgotten or not seen the first series.

Behind the Scenes with Cast and Crew Featurette

Old people and why most of them are rubbish

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Old people are everywhere. They are in our shops, in our cafes and in our streets. It is sometimes said that everyone in London is just three feet away from an old person at any one time. Well enough is enough! It is time these geriatric invaders learned a few lessons about modern life. If you know any old people and can persuade them to look at the screen for long enough, show them this…

  1. Stop being rude

Granted old people may have worked their whole lives (in most cases) but they should remember that the usual social norms still apply to them. Shop doorways are for going through, not for standing in front of. Cinemas are for people to watch films in, not for you to gossip to your friends in. Queues are for queuing in: do not think you can always jump them. You don’t know that person on the bus? Then don’t start talking to them like an old friend just because they are also old!

  1. Display some tact please

Let’s face it: old people get away with being far ruder than anyone else would. “Yes, perhaps I am a bit fatter Nan, thanks for noticing.” “No Nan. It’s not political correctness. You haven’t been able to call them that for years.” And no! Believe it or not, you don’t have a superpower which enables you to identify which celebrities are likely to be convicted of sex offences before they have been accused of anything just because “they have a funny look about them”! If you did have this power, why didn’t you use this gift back in the Seventies when it might have done some good?

 

  1. Stop being so nostalgic for a fairytale version of the past that never existed

No, the past wasn’t all great. People were still hanged, everyone was racist and homophobic, food was rubbish, TV was boring, the monetary system was insanely complicated (240 pence in a pound?) and The Goon Show was totally incomprehensible. And if you love the idea of reintroducing National Service so much, might I suggest we reintroduce it for the over seventies only? Nobody else wants it. If you want to recreate your own Dad’s Army go ahead!

 

  1. Do not take food with you on holiday!

Believe it or not, they probably sell bread, milk and teabags wherever you are going anyway! Milk goes off you know? It’s not going to bankrupt you to obey some basic hygiene rules.

 

  1. Stop making our TV crap

Ever wondered why so much of our TV is dull, moribund Downtown Abbey/Call The Midwife type stuff? Why whole channels cater exclusively to fans of Last of the Summer Wine, Heartbeat and The House of Elliot. You’ve guessed it! Because old people love this crap.

  1. Technology isn’t that bad!

No! Your email hasn’t disappeared. The screen has just moved down a bit. How did I find out the Bruce Forsyth’s age so easily? Simple. I typed in: BRUCE FORSYTH AGE. No, don’t panic! It’s not an air raid. I’m receiving a text message on my mobile phone. Just as I did two minutes ago.

7. Old people run everything

The Queen is the Head of the Church of England. She is 88. Her successor Prince Charles is already 65. The Pope is 77. The Vice President of the USA Joe Biden is 71 while the favourite to be the next US president, Hillary Clinton is likely to be close to 70 before she even gets there. The US Secretary of State John Kerry is also 70 while the most powerful man in the media world, Rupert Murdoch is 83!!

8. Stop moaning

Many old people have legitimate grievances: they are ill, weak, lonely or cold in the winter. The rest of you though have nothing to complain about! If you’re seventy five now, you missed the world wars and Great Depression your parents suffered through and will miss having to work until ninety eight like the rest of us! You’re pensions are good. You are rich simply because you bought a house for about two pounds in 1968 and haven’t destroyed it. Be happy! Honestly, some old people don’t know they’re born.

 

Six reasons why the Eighties were crap

 features The Krankies 2008

The past may well be a different country. But is it one which you would necessarily want to visit? In the case of the Eighties, here are six reasons why the decade as a whole is best avoided…

 Movies were bad

Okay, clearly not ALL Eighties movies were bad but there was a hell of a lot of crap around ranging from Flashdance, Red Dawn, Mannequin to the Police Academy films. The British film industry was in an especially dire state with virtually one Cannon and Ball film or Merchant Ivory period piece being released a year. Animated films such as The Fox and the Hound and Basil The Great Mouse Detective were a million miles away from the sophisticated standard set by the likes of Frozen and the Toy Story films today. Even at the higher end, supposedly great Oscar winning fare like Driving Miss Daisy, Ordinary People and Terms of Endearment are watched by virtually NO ONE today.

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Computers were rubbish

Got  a spare two hours? Then try loading even the most basic blocky bitty computer game in 1984. Even then, it probably won’t work and will come back with a message saying “Boot error”.

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Mobile phones were huge

Some people, of course, had mobile phones in the Eighties but they were huge brick-like things which required you to shout down them so loudly you may as well just have shouted anyway. There was also no internet so you needed to visit the library to find out even the slightest bit of trivia about anything. Also, are you late for a meeting with someone? Tough! You can’t text “15 MINS L8 SORRY”. You’ll just have to miss them! You could try calling them from a phone box (although many were vandalised even then) but unless they’re at home or in the office, that won’t work as chances are they don’t have a mobile either!

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Everything closed on Sunday

And TV stopped at about one o clock in the morning (after a quick play of the National Anthem). What a bore!

TV was often rubbish

Not only did you have to get both the Radio Times AND the TV Times to see what was on all four channels, we had to put up with the likes of Duty Free, No Place Like Home and sitcoms starring Jim Davidson. The most watched comedy show of the entire decade? An episode of Carla Lane’s Bread. Rubbish.

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The country was in a bad way

Britain boomed in the Eighties? Well, yes, for about five minutes towards the end before overheating and descending into recession again. For most of the decade, unemployment was well over three million (much higher than during the recent recession) while the country quaked amidst rioting, IRA bomb explosions while teetering on the brink of extinction from the threat of nuclear war. Nostalgia? Some things are best left in the past.

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