I loved the 1980s, the era when I was a teen. A time when ‘Apple’ was something you ate and ‘Windows’ were mainly for staring out of, a lot, especially at school!
Getting ready to go out to the sounds of Whitney Houston, Spandau Ballet, Michael Jackson (even had his poster on my wall when he looked like he should) and Rick Astley all on vinyl, to name but a few. It was a time when hair, mine especially, would survive any hurricane, rock hard from a can of cheap extra hold hairspray practically gone in one sitting!
Hands up who loved Grange Hill and Neighbours? the unforgettable moment when Charlene aka Kylie Minogue married Scott aka Jason Donovan etched in your mind forever, along with their wedding song sung by Angry Anderson! I can hear it now.
On the weekends, it was Swap Shop or Tiswas, unlike today’s kids, we didn’t have the endless choice of kids programmes 24/7, although I’m not complaining when the it comes to the Teletubbies or other such dribble that I have endured over the years with my kids!
It was the decade of questionable fashion, who couldn’t resist a pair of satin leggings and neon leg warmers to finish the look! We had trends in schoolbags like the Plastic Jelly Bags, totally impractical, where you had to line them with a carrier bag or everything would fall out!
Fast forward to now and unwittingly I seem to have morphed, somewhat into my parents. I can often be heard bellowing out to the kids how they “don’t know they are born”, “I would have loved that when I was your age”, and the unforgettable one liner about the Money Tree!
I have put together an insight of what some of the 80s for me had to offer along with how it compares to my kids today.
Walking (What my kids avoid at all costs)
A large percentage of the 80s was spent walking. We had no choice back then, anywhere we wanted to go, we walked. We weren’t privy to the luxury of ‘Mums Taxi’ on standby waiting to ferry us all where we wanted to go, nope we walked.
Sometimes, we would jump on the bus always favouring the back seat just so we could puff our heads off (yes, we smoked…a lot, funded by saving our dinner money) on the way into town!
The luxury of tapping in a few key points and oodles of information appearing before your eyes was, unfortunately not available to us. With scraps of paper with illegible, rushed notes from copying the homework down from the blackboard to textbooks for our information. There was no copying and pasting or luxury of a delete button, we had to write it all up, and with an in ink-pen.
With writer’s cramp and an offering of something, our homework would be complete. And if we didn’t finish or even start, a quick ‘Sorry but she was unable to do her homework….’note would be signed by me on behalf of my parents!
We didn’t have them. We had payphones, which we could never afford, so spent a lot of time talking to the operator asking to reverse the charges.
House phones were usually rooted in the hall, annoyingly as there was no privacy. We would have to wait to ring our friends until after 6pm and then it would be accompanied with shouts of “hurry up on that phone”. Mine don’t have that worry, they can sit anywhere talking on theirs for as long as they like all paid for my us.
And being able to bypass the phone lock by tapping the black buttons under the receiver.
To be sure of our friends answering and not their parents, we would always give 3 rings first put the phone now and ring again. We had code words such as ‘polos’ for fags, aptly called as we would eat a dozen on the way home to rid ourselves of the smell, and any fag packets and lighters found in our coat pocket were always our friends, we were just minding it for them.
Our version of texting was passing each other notes throughout lessons or writing messages in each other workbooks trying not to be seen by the teacher.
There was no way of our parents getting hold of us or tracking us on any find my i-Phone. The only ‘being’ regularly phoning home back then was E.T.
The Top 40
Our Sunday evenings were spent, taping the Top 40. When my kids moan about their Spotify premium trial coming to an end, and the horror that will have to endure ads in between songs! I think back to the problems I had, when taping, stopping it at just the right moment before the DJ spoke. I swear the DJs used to do it on purpose knowing half the UK were trying to avoid their interruptions.
We didn’t have a phone to plug our headphones into and listen to 100s of songs, we had Sony Walkman’s. We had the pain of having to rewind and fast forward to any particular song we wanted, fist pumping when we timed it right the first time! And when the batteries started running out, well….!
To add insult to injury we also had to endure the bloody nuisance of the ribbon coming loose from the tapes. Hours were spent tightening it up with a pen, often turning it that one bit too much and resulting in the bloody thing snapping.
Video Rental Shop
Who doesn’t love a Movie night! We had lots in the 80s, the biggest difference between our movie nights in the 80s and my kid’s movie nights is the way it’s viewed!
Watching a newly released movie in the 80s meant, renting a video from the local video shop. Making yourself up to look older for the 15+ films, rehearsing your date of birth en route just in case, which would often be all in vain as the film would already be on loan by the time you got there.
Today it’s much simpler. Movies can be directly streamed onto your computer, tablet and television right from the comforts of your own home. There is no problem with it being out on loan or having to make yourself up to look older, its just a press of a few buttons to confirm they are old enough, having worked their way around any parental control, smart kids of today!
A selfie back then was holding a throwaway camera as far as your arm would let you, at a certain height hoping you were all in the shot. The disappointment when having waited 2 weeks, picking up your photos from the developers, to find photos of half heads or blurry ones!
Instant ‘selfies’ were only available with a Polaroid camera, and only if you, or a mate was lucky enough to own one.
There were no filters, delete and try again. Once that button was pressed that was it.
We pretty much lived outside. From morning to night, we would be out and our parents would have no way of knowing where we were or being able to contact us.
No phones with trackers to find out where we were. Home time would usually be either when the street lamps were coming on or you were hungry.
We literally have to prise our kids out of the house nowadays, preferring to keep in touch with their friends by gaming, texting or face time, and that’s usually when in the same room as them!
Walking, again, we would go into town where we would scour the classics, C&A, Chelsea Girl (always way out of my budget) Tammy Girl and testing out the make up in Miss Selfridge.
Today my 2 teenage kids prefer shopping online, from the comfort of an armchair, with our bank card at the ready.
Back in the 80s town would be full of punks, large stereos blasting out and a crowd of people, us included, watching kids breakdancing.
Then before heading home, it would be off to the pub for a quick drink and a fag age 14!
How I wished I was the one having the ‘time of my life’ with Patrick Swayze!
In the Here and Now
A lot has changed over the years but a lot remains the same, just jazzed up with fancier names, such as the end of school disco now a more lavish affair called a Prom costing upwards of £300.
Although I spent a lot of my teen years doing everything my parents didn’t want me to, such as messing around at school & smoking.
I look back on my teenage years with great fondness, a time when we laughed, a lot and worries were few and far between.
If the technology today, had been around then, I don’t think I would have got away with half of what I did, although it was never anything bad.
I just wonder what my kids will grow up remembering and what comparisons, if any there will be to their teen years.