Rubik’s Cube

Rubik's Cube pic on WikipediaThe Rubik’s Cube shot to worldwide obsession in the early 1980’s. I think I was about eleven or twelve when I first had a go on one. However, it warrants a popandcrisps moment because it came out of the Seventies. Invented in 1974, it was repackaged worldwide in 1979 for a 1980 launch, according to wikipedia.

There has been a recent upsurge in the Rubik’s Cube and related toys for a new generation, and my son had one for his birthday last week. The satisfying crunching sound it makes when you turn a slice took me right back! I remember the solutions I was determined to work out without the books and the agonies of those last few corners.

We bought one from the market and didn’t find out until after a few weeks of hard graft that the stickers had come off two of the central squares and been replaced incorrectly! The way we discovered this was that the corner pieces didn’t match up and would be impossible. I think it was a red and a green, which meant that there should have been a red-yellow-orange square and there wasn’t one! I’d like to think that this was a genuine mistake – perhaps by someone who was colour blind – rather than a deliberate piece of mischief with the culprit chuckling over our potential frustration.

Eventually I took the Rubik’s Cube apart, like I took everything apart, to see how it worked. I was fascinated by the simple design of interlocking plastic cubes. I did put it back together again, but it never worked as well and bits would fall off it if you were too heavy-handed. I’m not the only one who has done this, as I found out there is a specialist site for taking stuff apart.

I’ve just been on the Rubik’s Cube website and it has some great games!

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


Suzi Quatro

Suzie Quatro on guitarSuzi Quatro was my absolute heartthrob! I loved her for the way she looked, the way she sang, the fact that she did whatever she wanted and didn’t care.

I so wanted to be her when I grew up, probably the only woman during in my childhood I wanted to be like, all my other heroes being male.

In most of the clips of Suzi her face is obscured by a long fringe but this early clip shows that she is in fact totally delicious and my major crush is justified. Still rocking with no adornment or falsity, Suzi is so refreshing compared to other old timer female singers.

Most people think of Can the Can when they think of Suzi Quatro, but my favourite was always Devil Gate Drive.

When I was sweet sixteen I was a juke box queen down in Devil Gate Drive.

Not quite true of me, but I did love discos. I still listen to Devil Gate Drive now and sing it in the car.

Like many Seventies stars, Suzi was extremely talented and is still around now. She is still gorgeous and has fantastic fingerwork. This clip had me sweating.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Wagon Wheels

Australian Wagon Wheel on the left, UK Wagon Wheel on the right, from www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.comA Wagon Wheel is a circular biscuit with marshmallow filling and chocolate coating. It has been the subject of debate due to the apparent shrinkage in size.

Some people suggest that the phenomena is perception rather than physical shrinkage, just as anything else that used to be used as a child but hasn’t been seen for years and then appears again seems to be smaller.

But with Wagon Wheels there is actual evidence of size differences. According to Wikipedia, although the manufacturers deny any shrinkage, the circumference is different depending on which country the biscuit is sold in.

Food manufacturers reducing pack size is a method used to fool the customer into thinking that food prices are not going up. The size goes down; the price stays the same or goes up only slightly. Thus we are paying more for our food and being taken for mugs. This is something that has become prominent in the news recently.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Village Hall Disco

disco lightsIn the village where I grew up there is a hall which can be hired out for events. It was known as the memorial hall, though I don’t remember what it was a memorial to.

When I was a child, I used to spend a fair amount of time at the memorial hall. My mum was very active in the committee and there were always events going on. Discos mainly, any excuse for a disco.

There were hardly any other small children at the discos, only the offspring of the organisers who couldn’t get babysitters. So we were the ones who collected glasses (finishing off the drinks) and had pop and crisps. We got pushed around by older children who were trying to be important and petted by adults who thought it we were funny.

I remember being six years old and crawling behind the speakers to have a rest. I didn’t actually sleep but it was very comfortable. The curtains were a bit dusty and made me sneeze. When we sat on the wooden floor to do the ‘Boots Outside Your Head‘ dance, I would get a dirty bum and dirty hands, but it was fun to do it and be part of the grown up crowd.

We used to go up on stage to make requests and I shocked the DJ once by asking for the Sex Pistols. I didn’t know the name of the song but wanted to prove that I was grown up by saying the band’s name. Some of my favourite disco songs were the ones that spelled things out like YMCA and D-I-S-C-O.

When we were in the hall, dancing to these loud songs and looking at the flashing lights, I would feel like we were somewhere completely different and I could do anything, be anyone. Then the lights would go up and we’d have to wait for mum to help clear up before we could go home. We’d run around the empty hall like children always do. Out in the cold night air, walking through the village to our house, I’d start to feel tired and let down. I wasn’t a disco queen after all but just and ordinary village girl with sore feet.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night

Saturday Night Fever the film based on a journalistic lieThis article appeared in the New York Magazine in 1976 and is the inspiration of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever.

The article was an exposé of the disco scene. However, according to Wikipedia, it was pure fiction, the author Nik Cohn not having done any research on the disco scene.

This is not just wikipedia being notoriously unreliable. Nik Cohn has admitted himself that the character Vincent, (on whom John Travolta’s Tony is based) “was largely inspired by a Shepherd’s Bush mod whom I’d known in the Sixties.” He got away with it apparently because the mod culture in London was similar to the disco subculture in Brooklyn.

I wonder how much more investigative reporting is fabricated? Perhaps everything on which we base our beliefs and values is a total lie. I’ve always known that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers but this one really takes the biscuit!

Tune in next week when I’ll reveal that the Osmonds are my cousins from Darlaston in the West Midlands and Madonna is my gran from Bearwood in Birmingham. Natch.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Taxi on TV

Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) in TaxiThe main character in the American Seventies sit-com Taxi was someone quite nondescript.

The characters who stood out were those around him, such as Louie the boss played by Danny DeVito and the Reverend Jim played by Christopher Lloyd, who was a complete nutter, or Latka the grease monkey with a funny accent.

I loved Taxi. Initially I think because my dad was a taxi driver, but after a while it was the Reverend who drew me. I adored him because he was hilarious and clever, laid back and always said whatever he thought. I decided I was going to be like him when I grew up.

I’m not quite as spaced out, but I think the wild hair is getting there. I went around in faded denim for a while in the eighties but only succeeded in looking like a Wrangler ad, not a Harvard dropout at all. Shucks.

Taxi theme tune takes me right back.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen, a still from the Bohemian Rhapsody videoThe late, great Freddie Mercury wrote the Bohemian Rhapsody and recorded it with his band, Queen in 1975.

I will no doubt write a popandcrisps post for Queen, but this song requires its own post, given the profound influence it had on me and thousands of others from the Seventies to the modern day.

I still sing it now, and have had particular lyrics spinning around my head while at work lately, which prompted me to write this. ‘Goodbye everybody’ is one, and another is, ‘Just got to get right out of here.’ But enough of me and my godawful job! I think that one of the reasons it was so popular then and has remained so to this day is due to these lyrics tapping into the heart of the disaffected psyche.

Although, according to Wikipedia, Freddie wrote these lyrics as random phrases that fitted in with the music, others have interpreted deep psychological, spiritual and philosophical significance. The singer is a condemned murderer who has an epiphany prior to his execution, or he is having a drug-induced hallucinogenic nightmare and is plagued by devils.

When I was growing up, a bohemian was someone who preferred art over material wealth, who lived an alternative lifestyle, especially in terms of their sexual relationships, who maybe was from a rich background but preferred to live in poverty and squalor, perhaps due to political ideals. I always wanted to be a bohemian, and I suppose some people might say I am, though you don’t hear the word so much these days. It’s insulting or patronising to be called bohemian now, as if it’s somehow quaint. It’s comparable to ‘hippy’.

The term originally derived from the name for people from Bohemia, the area which is now the Czech Republic, in the mistaken belief that the poor travelling people in Europe were from this area. I never really understood what is bohemian about the song other than it being very alternative.

It was so alternative that it was predicted to be a complete flop. But like all good alternatives, the song quickly gained cult status and has ploughed its own furrow in the history of music. I have an idea to write a novel based on the story in the song, but I’m sure that there would be copyright issues here, plus I’ve got plenty of other novels to be getting on with. But this is one of those backburner thoughts.

I memorised the song, including the guitar solo, when I was at the age where memorising songs was important. Still now, if one of my sisters starts to sing it, we will all join in to the joyful crescendo and headbanging finish.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room