Eleven Sweaty Men in a 4-Seat Hillman Husky

disco lightsCan you remember what you did on Saturday nights in 1970? My friends and I were, like a lot of other testosterone and beer fuelled males, heading for the disco. We had a choice of venues; the Top Rank Suite, with its circular dance floor downstairs and the illuminated, multi-coloured glass one upstairs; and the Mecca, Royal Pier Ballroom, famous for its plastic palm trees. There were other, seedier establishments which decent chaps avoided. One week in May it was our turn at the Pier.

Picture of the sort of Hillman Husky – a 1954-1957 model – unfortunately not a '70s modelThere were four of us in the old Hillman Husky and the plan was to meet in the car park at the end of the evening, for the return journey. Colin, the car’s owner, was not renowned for his powers of logical thought, especially after a couple of beers, and he was so proud of his new wheels that he invited everyone he met, to a lift home.

Later that night a crowd gathered outside the disco to see the famed car. When he was satisfied with the packing of the passengers he started the journey home. He had travelled less than a mile along the High Street, just reaching the Bargate when he was flagged down – by the local constabulary. He had forgotten to turn on the lights. It would have helped had he been able to see the dashboard, but with eleven people occupying the four seats it proved impossible.

The astounded policeman did his duty, seven passengers walked home and Colin pleaded guilty at court. It cost him a £13 fine and he got his ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ in the local paper.

The 70s were under way …

Kim P Moody

Black Lace

Black Lace Greatest Hits (also available as a blank tape)This band, loved and hated by party goers, are more famous for their eighties hits such as Agadoo, The Music Man, Superman and The Conga, but Black Lace began in the Seventies and represented the UK in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest. (Eurovision is an oft-repeated theme on PopandCrisps, perhaps for its tack value).

According to Wikipedia many of these hits are actually covers, though people may think they are originals. For instance Agadoo is a translation of a French song, Agadou, and Superman was an Italian song. Well, well, who’d have thought that such uber-tack could be non-English?

I have fond memories of Black Lace, dancing around the garden on summer evenings and in the discos I used to frequent. There is something about being in your early teens that makes really annoying and repetitive songs seem attractive. They certainly made us giggle.

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

Happy Seventies New Year Everyone

Snowball made from advocaat, recipe from Nigella and my GranNormal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Once I’ve finished overdosing on the Babycham, Snowballs and Cherry B.

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

White Christmas

Snowed in looks pretty but may not be so nice if you can't get warmIs it my imagination or were there more white Christmases in the Seventies? Let’s look at wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge. Well what a disappointment, it looks like it was my imagination after all. Apparently in Birmingham there was snow at Christmas in 1970 which I would be too young to remember, and in London snow in 1976 which I would only have seen on TV. Then the next snow at Christmas was in 1981.

The Met office have a fact sheet outlining the instances of White Christmases, where they demonstrate that there is harsher weather now than in past years. “In fact, in terms of widespread sleet/snow falling across the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, between 1971 and 1992 there was only one year (1980), whereas in the years 1993 to 2003 there were five such occasions.”

The reason that a white Christmas is so ingrained in the British culture is due to the extremely cold ‘Little Ice Age’ between 1550 and 1850 when the River Thames would freeze every year. Our romanticising of the harsh weather may be linked to our romanticising generally of the pre-industrial age. When an elderly or infant relative dies through lack of a well-heated house (which happened quite often in 1550-1850), then snow at Christmas may not seem so picturesque.

Happy Christmas everyone!

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

Seventies Special Food

Prawn CocktailDidn’t we all think we were in the Haute Cuisine, with our three course meal of prawn cocktail, duck a l’orange and black forest gateaux? Pull out the hostess trolley and deliver your pre-dinner martinis, people, because we’re on a roll! Apparently celebrity chefs are bringing back the ‘good old British’ seventies menu (fnar, since when was any of that British?)

Black Forest Gateau - hint, it's GermanThe prawn cocktail sauce was mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together, the duck was cooked in orange squash and the gateaux was still frozen. But we loved it because we were ultra hip and modern! No more the meat and two veg, we were exotic with our devilled eggs and packet cheesecake mix.

The arrival of the kiwi fruit proved much consternation in our village, until someone hit upon the idea of using it as a garnish for their quiches. We had only just got used to seeing sliced tomato on top of a bacon and egg flan and calling it ‘quiche’, and as we had no idea what a kiwi fruit was for, no-one questioned it appearing in a savoury dish. But as far as I’m aware this must have been a Midlands-only phase as no-one in South Wales has heard of kiwi fruit on quiche.

We still like to watch Fanny Craddock at Christmas, for a laugh rather than for hot tips. The single most repeated Fanny clip is when she ‘lubricates the dry bird’. I’m sure I remember her as wearing marigold gloves at the time. It’s got to be on YouTube.

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

Roy Wood

The Kitten trashing the cityAnother fantastic artist to come out of Brum. Roy Wood is from the West Mids and the accent still comes through in his singing.

As Wizzard, his most famous song is I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, which was released in 1973 but is still played now every single bloody Christmas.

However, he also founded ELO and wrote and performed many other pieces of music, including collaborations and music written for other artists. See wikipedia for a full discography.

The Kitten trashing the cityOne of the striking aspects of Roy Wood was his appearance. Not just the ostentatious clothes of the time, but the makeup he wore, usually lightening bolt zig-zags over his face, and bright dyed hair and beard.

He was pretty amazing when I was a kid. And he still looks amazing now, last time I saw him on stage was singing that damn Christmas song that he must be sick of by now, dressed all in white like the Winter King, with silver-streaked white hair and beard and white and silver makeup.

Recently Roy Wood was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Derby for his contribution to music.

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

Poem – Silver Jubilee Partying

The first Pop&Crisps poem by Shirley Elmokadem

Silver Jubilee ceremony at www.royal.gov.uk The Queen’s Silver Jubilee. June 7th 1977

Everyone went mad that day
I’ve never seen the like since.
Granddad put on his best suit
And Gran had a nice blue rinse.

Streets were decked with bunting,
In the car park a huge marquee,
People made sandwiches and cakes,
And there were endless cups of tea.

Jubilee street party at BBC siteWe danced in the streets all night,
Friends and neighbours, hand in hand.
The sky glittered with fireworks.
There were beacons all over the land.

It was some party, was that one,
To mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
And the sights and sounds of that day
Are forever in my memory.

Shirley is the First Prize Winner of the Swanwick Poetry competition 2008 winning a stay at the summer school as a prize www.wss.org.uk

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher and a Union JackIt’s difficult to express how pleased and excited I was in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. Okay, I was eight, so maybe I had not completely formulated my political opinions. But I was an unusual child in many ways, one of which was that I learned to read from the newspaper. It was The Sun up until around this time and then it became The Daily Express (neither my choice of course, but my parents’). Not only was I very aware of what was going on in the world compared to other eight-year-olds, but I had also become astute at reading between the lines, having had lots of practice.

It’s not memory that I have the problem with when I say that it’s hard to express those feelings of elation when I heard that ‘Maggie’ was in. The difficulty is being able to separate these feelings from the intensity of my hatred towards her later in her tyranny. But I will try, for the benefit of this blog, to focus on the positive, carnival atmosphere in May 1979 when we suddenly had a woman prime minister and everything was going to be glorious.

Margaret and Denis outside Number 10 in 1979During the previous months, there had been pictures of Maggie, in her trademark blue twinset and pearls, fixed to the lamp-posts all along the street and elsewhere in the village. People had pictures of her up in their front rooms. I think there may have been some lonely feminist voices in the wilderness saying, ‘hang on a minute, yes she’s a woman, but she’s also a tory!’ but we didn’t hear them in our house.

Apart from anything, I wanted to vote for her because she had the same name as my mum. Such is the logic of eight-year-olds. It’s probably reasonably safe to assume that I had soaked up the political opinions of my mum and was rooting for Maggie in the same way that many kids support the same football team as their parents.

She seemed so benign and promised so much. Though after coming to power she swiftly began to privatise everything and close hospitals, it wasn’t until the Poll Tax riots that my mum finally felt let down, quite some time after I had done.

The previous Prime Minister was quite a dull man in a suit with a droning voice. He was amazingly intelligent and brilliant etc. but didn’t have what you might call ‘presence’. Sound familiar? I think that if anything can be learned from history, this is one of those lessons. The UK had had some pretty dire times under the previous government and were ready for a change. A new, fabulous and entrancing, charismatic leader stormed in and we were all taken for fools. I sincerely hope that it isn’t going to happen again.

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

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977

Another contribution from Kim P Moody, now the Top Guest Blogger

What about the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977? The twenty-fifth anniversary of her accession to the throne was officially commemorated on 6 February 1977.

Street party in Worcestershire, in the middle of the street - can you imagine that today?

Most of the celebrations took place on the weekend of Her Majesty’s official birthday, 6 June, starting with a Commemorative stuff for the queen being monarch for 25 yearsstring of bonfire beacons being lit across the country. On 7 June millions of people celebrated with post-war style street parties. In towns and villages roads were closed and tables and chairs brought out. Bunting and banners were strung from the street lamps and parties lasted throughout the day. Jelly, trifle and sandwiches were on the menu – as well as pop and crisps! In London alone, there were 4000 neighbourhood parties.

God Save The Queen record sleeve at www.sleevage.comPunk rock was popular then, and the Sex Pistols released a special song to celebrate the event. ‘God Save the Queen’ was an anarchistic, anti-monarchy song, which although banned from being broadcast during the celebrations, made the number 2 slot in the UK pop charts.

Not everyone was lucky enough to get to a street party. In my role as domestic DIY-er extraordinaire, I was confined to the loft space of our 1930s semi. During my earlier exploits of decorating and repair in the hallway I had managed to put a nail through a central heating pipe, which meant I had to drain the water from the system to carry out repairs; this in turn highlighted problems with valves and stopcocks in the loft.

Of course, pride wouldn’t allow assistance from a plumber, cost prevented it anyway, so, as it had to be fixed before work on Monday morning, I spent the weekend in doors, a lot of it in the loft. Probably the best place for me under the circumstances.