Jo Fox’s 1978 Diary

Joanne Fox, is a short story writer published in women’s magazines, and winner of Frome Festival short story competition 2007. “Looking at your great blog really jogged my memory about the 70s and so I had a root through my filing cabinet to see what mementoes I had tucked away.”

Radio One 1978 diaryI would have been fourteen when I tore the Christmas paper from my Radio One Diary for 1978. At that age I was obsessed with music. Few presents from my mum can ever have prompted as much excitement as this little book. And how glad I am that my diary has survived.

On the front cover, Leo Sayer springs into the air, wearing white trousers with braces and a slightly manic smile. White trousers were clearly the in thing in the late seventies because when I turn the page I find Canadian disc jockey Kid Jensen in huge white flares, white boots and a Radio One sweatshirt. I was more of a John Peel fan, but the biographies of all the Radio One D.J.s at the front of this diary were riveting reading. Ed Stewart, Dave Lee Travis, Alan Freeman, the lovely Anne Nightingale – their names conjure up hours of happy listening.

On the page for personal information, below my name and address, I have written three vital details:

“Rick Wakeman is ACE”
“Status Quo are excellent”
“Bay City Rollers should be boiled in oil”

Yes, at fourteen the evidence is that I wanted to be a rock chick! At the bottom of every diary page is a space headed “This week’s chart topper is…” I have to say I am impressed that I filled in all the number one hits, from Mull of Kintyre in January, to the Commodores Three Times a Lady in mid-September. So, apart from my opinions on the Bay City Rollers, what other gems did I record in my messy ballpoint?

Jo Fox in 1978On Friday the 13th of January I wrote “Today is here!” I quite like the celebratory tone of this observation. On the 24th I noted that the lead singer of the band Chicago had died, and a month later I saw Star Wars. I still remember queuing in the rain to get into the Odeon in Derby for the afternoon screening!

In March Kate Bush reached number one with ‘Wuthering Heights’. She seemed so different from everyone else in the charts, and I found her combination of weirdness and beauty fascinating. I too wanted to wave my arms around and sing in a high voice, “It’s me, Cathy, come home…” In fact, I probably did when no-one was watching.

Also during March I saw Gordon Giltrap at the Derby Assembly Rooms. I was learning guitar and I’d have loved to be as good as he was. The next concert I went to was in June – Gerry Rafferty of Baker Street fame. By now, Boney M were number one with Rivers of Babylon. I hated it! But not as much as I hated the hit that topped the charts after that, You’re the One that I Want by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.

In August I went on a family holiday to the Welsh resort of Tenby. We always stayed in ‘flatlets’, which was a posh way of describing bedsits-by-the-sea. Sadly my diary entries tail off soon after writing that Keith Moon had died on September 7th. What happened in September to end my devotion to my diary? I can only guess that once I moved up a year at school, filling in the week’s number one seemed a rather nerdy thing to do.

However there are still some surprises in the address section at the end of the diary. I had several penpals, two in Germany, one each in Austria, France, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Australia. A schoolfriend was part of a penpal club and she used to get a booklet, similar to a book of raffle tickets. For (I think) 10p you could buy a ticket with the name and address of someone abroad who wanted a UK penpal. Then you could start writing to a total stanger about your guinea pigs, your latest Abba L.P. or your crush on your physics teacher. Most of my penpals fell by the wayside, not least because postage ate up too much of my pocket money! When I look at their names now I wonder where they are. In their attics or filing cabinets, have they stashed away their old diaries with my name and address inside? I’d love to know.

As I close my diary, I see Elton John on the back cover. He has a gappy smile, sunglasses (despite being indoors) and that ubiquitous Radio One sweatshirt.

1978 was a good year for me. So, well done mum for choosing a present all those years ago that still amuses me today!

The Bionic Woman

Lindsay Wagner as Jaime SommersI named my doll Jamie after Jamie Summers, the bionic woman (although I’ve just found out from Wikipedia that her name was spelled Jaime Sommers). Anyway the fact that I named my one and only doll after her demonstrates how much I loved the character and the programme. Although The Bionic Woman was a spin-off from The Six Million Dollar Man (who cost about as much as a house in London would today so maybe not that expensive), for me Jamie was much more important than Steve Austin. Lindsay Wagner in 2007 receiving TV Land awardJamie was played by Lindsay Wagner who I always thought looked like she could be a member of my family and I imagined being like her when I grew up. And wow, she is still beautiful now. Isn’t it amazing what a bit of bionics can do for you? She only looks a couple of years older than me! One of the things that was excellent about having a bionic woman was that in most of the other action programmes around at the time, the woman would be the victim. But like with Charlie’s Angels and Wonderwoman, this was the new idea that women didn’t always have to be rescued but could rescue themselves. Annoyingly though, they were still soppy over men and swooning as soon as the male rescuer turned up. For instance, the whole reason that Jamie was bionic was because she was Steve’s girlfriend and if she hadn’t been then she’d have just died or been disabled after her skydiving accident. The Bionic Woman with the Bionic DogThere was also a fabulous dog called Maximillion who used to bite through iron bars to escape from the cages he kept getting shut in. When he did this, the film went into slow motion and there was this strange echoing music, the same as when Jamie jumped or listened through her bionic ear. I always marvelled at how he bit through the metal but my mum, ever ready to dispel my sense of wonder, told me that they were probably made of sugar. The Bionic Woman was remade in 2007 but according to Wikipedia was stalled during the Great Writers’ Strike and then didn’t continue. I haven’t watched any of it as I was quite cynical that it might spoil my memories of the original so I can’t comment on whether it’s any good.


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

Space Hoppers

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPANDCRISPS!

ONE YEAR OLD THIS WEEK WH-HOO!

Let’s play some bubblegum music and drink babysham in our hotpants.

(now, for today’s post…)

Space Hopper in original Seventies OrangeHopping mad I was that I didn’t have one of these ingenious devices for myself as I would have bounced all day. I think we may have had one between us for a short while, or a neighbour had one, or something. Anyway I do remember there being an orange inflatable with horns and a funny face in my life at some point. Those horns got very dirty and were prone to be sucked on by younger siblings. I still remember the rubbery smell of it.

I could go into all sorts of detail about the stories I’ve heard of what uses the double-horns of the space hopper got put to, but this is a reasonably clean site so far and I’d like to keep it that way!

They were introduced in the very early Seventies, according to wikipedia, and I believe they are still available, and in different colours to the original orange. The most popular period was definitely the Seventies and the name, the image and everything about the idea of bouncing down the street in the absence of health and safety rules conjures up the Seventies for me. It is such an iconic image that it’s on the BBC cult site.

There is no other purpose for the space hopper than bouncing, as this nifty bit of youtubery demonstrates. Of course you’re always going to get the idiots. And it’s interesting how many adults play with the space hopper now, perhaps because they loved it so much as children?

I’ll leave you with Coppers on Hoppers while I go and pee myself.


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

Joe 90

Joe 90 on his video coverOf all the supermarionations, my favourite was Joe 90 which was repeated through the Seventies though it was first shown in 1968 and according to Wikipedia only one series was made. So technically if you’re going to be picky I shouldn’t be talking about it here. However, this is my site so I will.

My name being Joe (and I spelled it like that then) and having blonde hair and glasses made me a candidate for being called Joe 90 as an insult. I think it happened twice before the children who were trying to insult me realised that I was pleased to be called Joe 90 and so they stopped. Of course.

Joe 90 inside the space ballThe idea behind Joe 90 was that he was the son of a scientist who created a machine called BIG RAT and these special specs that made him have superpowers and he was a the first Spy Kid.

During the opening sequence Joe was sat inside a big space-age ball, with a bells-and-whistles computer. It all looks laughable now but it definitely has the culty kitsch that will outlast computer fashion.

Joe 90 merchandising packagePersonally I think the whole thing was to get kids to think that glasses were cool. A bit like Popeye and spinach. Sort of. And sell toys of course.

The supermarionations were all interrelated with some of the puppets from one show appearing in the others. Now they are having a major comeback (again) so there’s sure to be more about them soon. It’s showing on Sci Fi UK channel. Like with many of these programmes from when I was a kid, it outshines the modern equivalents by far.


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

Jim’ll Fix It

Jim fixing it for a kid to have tea with K9 from Doctor WhoJim’ll Fix It started in 1975 and ran till 1994, though the peak of the show will always be the Seventies for me. Jimmy Savile hosted the ‘fix it’ show which was all about granting wishes for people who wrote in. There was no charity or sick kids involved in this which there would be now, it was basically whoever wrote in the funniest or cleverest wish that would get picked to have their wishes granted.

The one I remember the best were the scout troop who wanted to eat their packed lunch while riding a rollercoaster. One of the reasons this wish was so memorable was that a clip of it was used in the opening credits. I clearly remember this poor kid holding a drink bottle with straw and getting covered, but laughing his socks off. Today my memory was jogged by trying to eat a McDonald’s in the car while Alys was driving. Kind of has the same feel to it.

Jim looking slightly more bizarre than usualSo anyway, another thing about Jimmy Savile was how weird looking he was. He was tiny and skinny with long white-blonde hair, dark glasses, wearing a track suit and hundreds of gold chains and rings and a freaky false laugh. He also always had a massive cigar in his hand even though most of the time it wasn’t lit. Not the sort of person most people would leave their kids with? Strangely no-one questioned that.

Jim'll Fix It medal - they sell them on ebay nowAfter people had been ‘fixed’ they got a medal on a red chain, which said ‘Jim fixed it for me’. And you can make your own badge now as well. How cool is that? Adults and kids got ‘fixes’ and sometimes other people would write in to get a fix for their friends or family. A few times I remember famous people being fixed, either because someone wrote in before they were famous or because there was a special show for famous fixes.

Jimmy was a popular DJ and carried on working as a DJ while also presenting this show. He used to present Top of the Pops sometimes, and also do a Sunday lunch-time thing that my mum used to listen to, where he would play some song from the dark ages and ask people to ring in with the name of the song and artist. He was always a stickler for the full title, including bracketed phrases that were popular in the sixties.

According to wikipedia, it wasn’t Jimmy that granted the wishes at all, but the producer of the show. So I’m at a loss as to work out what Jimmy’s role was apart from to play the sugar-daddy.

Apparently there is now a comeback show, though I’d never heard of this until I did the research for this post. That scout troop have gone back and done the ride again. Now that makes for some good youtubery.


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

Servalan

Servalan looking gorgeous and deadly in Children of AuronAlthough Blake’s 7 has already been covered on popandcrisps, I need to dedicate a post entirely to my prepubescent lesbian wet dream, Servalan. I’ve been researching the Servalan wardrobe recently due to a baking project I’m working on. My lovely writer friend Susie has already beaten me to it on that score but I have some youtubery planned for the Bake 7 bunch that is entirely popandcrisps.

Weird thing about Servalan is that she was ultra-femme vamp yet psychotic murderer and I do wonder how and why I got so obsessed with her. No, really, I was banned from watching. I don’t know whether this was because I started acting like her or my lust was obvious to everyone except me. Because this obsession started long before I even knew what a sexuality was.

So is Servalan a lesbian icon? Well, the fact that there is a drag act devoted entirely to her demonstrates that she’s probably a gay icon. There is the haircut of course, Servalan being the first woman with shaved hair I saw on TV.

Jacqueline Pearce, the actress who played Servalan has according to Wikipedia, settled down in a monkey sanctuary in Africa. I probably would too if there were men dressing in off-the-shoulder dresses and pretending to be me.


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

Captain Pugwash

Captain Pugwash with Tom the Cabin BoyOne of my favourite cartoons in the Seventies was Captain Pugwash. Although the last series was produced in 1975 (according to Wikipedia) I remember watching it throughout the Seventies, so was probably watching repeats.

Contrary to popular urban mythology, there was no Seaman Stains or Master Bates. I do remember references to Tom the Cabin Boy being ‘the Captain’s favourite cabin boy’ but that’s about the most innuendo that I can recall.

Captain Pugwash was a pirate but a nice one, not the nasty sort. He was funny and had a lot of funny swearwords, the only one of which I remember is ‘shiver me timbers’ but Wikipedia has a nice long list.

The animation style is minimal, like cardboard cutouts that move around on fixed backgrounds. You can see this from clips on YouTube. The modern reinvented Pugwash uses computer animation which is not so endearing.


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