Space Invaders

Space Invaders screen shotNot just the name of a crap crisp, Space Invaders were the big video game of the late Seventies and early Eighties. According to wikipedia the game was invented in 1978 (so like the Rubik’s Cube it qualifies for popandcrisps even though it didn’t filter through to most of us until the eighties).

In the original game, strange skull-like aliens in regimented armies would blip across the screen to be shot at by your ship at the bottom, with houses in between that would provide shelter but be gradually destroyed by the alien fire and your own fire.

There are generally two types of rank-file aliens, sometimes more, and a mothership style saucer that flies across the top once in a while. Each time the aliens blip across the screen, they go down another row and get quicker. If they get to the bottom before you’ve shot them all, you’ve lost. They can also shoot you and if you lose all your lives you’ve also lost. After you’ve destroyed all the aliens, another batch appears, which is exactly the same as before so not like going up a level (although in some games they start quicker or lower on each new screen).

The best replica free-web space invaders game I’ve found is this site.  According to that site, the targets in the game were originally soldiers not aliens, but this was thought inappropriate for children to be shooting at.

I had a hand-held space invaders game in about 1982, and before this I would watch the demos in the arcade under my Dad’s flat, him refusing to give me 10p for a game. Other games in the arcade were Tracer and Pac-man and a strange caterpillar game, of which I also loved to watch demos.


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

High Street Hardship

Bread queue in London from BBC websiteToo much talk is going on lately about how we can’t afford to buy stuff. This is driving me bonkers. In the Seventies we had to queue up to buy bread and there was a rule of only one loaf per family. How on earth would today’s families cope with that? There’d be a public outcry with people complaining that the government should do something. Actually, the reason for the shortage of bread was a bakers’ strike, but there were all sorts of other shortages and people just didn’t buy the number of non-edible consumables that they do today.

Many people then didn’t have one car, let alone two. If you had a fridge that was good, and very few families owned a freezer. One TV for the whole family was the norm, situated in the living room. Kids who had TVs in their bedrooms were considered spoiled. There wasn’t such a thing as a games console, but when personal computers started appearing, they would also be used in the family main room – generally because you had to hook them up to the TV to use as monitor. I remember laughing when I found out my Gran had got a little black and white portable TV for her kitchen. It seemed completely crazy.

We didn’t have carpet upstairs. It was this awful green ancient lino that was brittle and had holes in it. Under the green it was black, and the edges of the holes were black soft plastic stuff a bit like tar. Where the holes were the floorboards showed through and you’d get splinters if you went around in bare feet. I was about fourteen when I first had carpet in my bedroom and it seemed an amazing luxury, yet this is something we take for granted now.

Our infants’ school uniform was gingham, bloody horrible gingham. My mum bought yards of the stuff and made dresses for us all from the same pattern. We had pants and socks new but everything else came in large bin bags from Gran, where she’d got all her friends in the village to donate their children’s cast-offs. I remember going shopping for clothes for the first time with my Mum when I was about twelve, to the market and I had my first ever pair of jeans.

Let’s face it, the people who are suffering in this credit crunch are not the people who have stopped buying all this junk. They (we) don’t need it, don’t know we need it until the advertisers tell us we do. We can easily do without it. The people who are suffering are the retailers and manufacturers of the junk, who have got used to a certain level of goods sold. They are going to have to find something else to do with their business instead of being purveyors of trash. Perhaps they could go and work as farmers or doctors or something more useful?

Next time I hear someone complaining because they can’t afford the latest gadget or clothes that are ‘in season’ I’m going to scream. Really scream. And then I’ll be locked up. But at least I won’t have to listen to spoilt Thatcher-generation whiners.


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

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

Goblins in the Bedroom

Kim P Moody brews a cuppa

Goblin Teasmade at www.teasmade.comI used to have a Goblin next to my bed. It would wake me and make a cup of tea to welcome me to the new day.

No! Not a little man with pointy ears, silly! A Goblin Teasmade. The idea was that it would turn on a small electric kettle to provide freshly boiled water (tea aficionados know that only once-boiled water is good enough for a proper cuppa).

This water would, by means of syphonic action, be poured in to the waiting teapot. Once the teapot was full the pressure switch under the now empty kettle would release, and activate the alarm, et voila! Perfect tea to start the day.

The reality was a little different. I was woken ten minutes early by hissing and spluttering from the wheezing kettle. It would try to force boiling water through a narrow pipe that had become furred, due to the hard water in our region. Health and safety experts would have a field day with the idea of boiling water sloshing about on the bedside table!

It was a real work-up trying to clean the pipe. I tried all sorts of things to remove the calcium deposits,  like pipe cleaners or bent wire, but it was never a real success. The Goblin was soon relegated to the garage, with the other detritus from the throw-away age.

Teasmades are still available, apparently, as retro novelty items – I’ll stick to getting up five minutes early, thanks!