Past Christmas

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With only a week to go until the big day arrives, I thought I would take a look back at Christmas during my favourite decade, so here are my festive Eighties’ memories:

1980

Following John Lennon’s fatal shooting at the beginning of December, I have an overwhelming memory of his music being played over the Christmas period. My dad bought Jona Lewie’s “Stop The Cavalry” on 7” vinyl, so that also got played a lot, and was usually accompanied by all my family singing along at full volume to the chorus. No wonder I looked so thrilled to meet Jona earlier this year!

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1981

“Don’t You Want Me” by Human League may have been the Christmas No.1, but the record Santa left me on the big day was Cliff Richard’s “Daddy’s Home”! Boxing Day was spent at the Whitbread Social Club in Faversham, with songs like “The Birdie Song” by the Tweets and “Hokey Cokey” by the Snowmen on the jukebox. We returned home in the early evening to watch Russ Abbot’s Christmas Madhouse, featuring characters such as Basildon Bond and Cooperman.

1982

A memorable, transitional year for me, which saw me have my first Christmas as a pupil at Simon Langton Girls’ School in Canterbury. Most of the schools finished at lunchtime to start the Christmas break, and pupils from across the city would congregate in the bus station amid a frenzy of silly string and spray snow. 1982 was the year animated film The Snowman was released, and it was also when I became obsessed with Boy George, as shown in my homage to him.

1982

1983

The year when the world went mad for Cabbage Patch Kids! Footage of shoppers fighting over the dolls, which came with their own ‘adoption certificate’, even made headline news. My own Christmas wish list (which was fulfilled) included Paul Young’s “No Parlez” album and a bright red ghetto blaster. Inspired by chart-topping Flying Pickets, friends and I would practice our acapella singing of “Only You”.

1984

Christmas ’84 is easily summed up in two words – “Band Aid”. The world of pop music piqued the consciousness of a generation and, in an age of conspicuous consumption, Christmas came to mean much more than our own individual needs. I still have my most prized gift from this year, the making of Band Aid video. Unfortunately, I can no longer watch it, as it’s on Betamax.

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1985

The year I received my music centre, complete with turntable, radio and double tape deck. This led to my obsession with vinyl being closely followed by a preoccupation with creating mixed tapes. Whilst I was upstairs listening to everything from Immaculate Fools’ “Hearts of Fortune” to Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms” LPs, my family were downstairs listening to Nan’s favourite, Shakin’ Stevens, singing “Merry Christmas Everyone”.

 

1986

The return of acapella singing, this time in the form of The Housemartins’ “Caravan of Love”, and attempting to roll our Rs, whilst singing along to Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite”. Christmas Day this year saw us experimenting with creating cocktails. Just for the record, Baileys and lemonade doesn’t mix!

1987

My first Christmas in the sixth form, which afforded us the privilege of sitting on the stage during assembly, singing Wham!’s “Last Christmas” whilst covered in tinsel! This was the year my favourite Christmas song, “Fairytale of New York”, was released. However, it was kept off the top spot by “Always on My Mind” by Pet Shop Boys.

6th form Xmas

1988

My ‘reign’ as Faversham carnival queen covered Christmas 1988, and meant I got to turn on the town’s Christmas lights, along with First World War veteran Dusty Miller. It was an amazing experience to see the large crowd gathered in the Market Place, as we illuminated the town.

Xmas lights

1989

I left school in July ’89, and began working for a local accountancy firm. Our Christmas ‘do’ taught me two very important lessons for future office parties: 1) curbing your alcohol intake is always a good idea, no matter how boring it may seem at the time, 2) telling your boss a dirty joke is rarely wise, however funny you may think it is. Failure to achieve the former will invariably lead to the latter, and to much festive merriment for your colleagues!

Leaving you with those words of wisdom, all that’s left for me to say is “Merry Christmas” – have a wonderful time.

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Step Into Christmas 80’s Style

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Think back to the countdown to  Christmas during the Eighties. A time when the idea of seeing Christmas cards in the shops before we had celebrated Harvest Festival at school was preposterous, and when we were still excited at the Big Day’s arrival, untouched by the three months of festive fatigue we’re likely to endure today. Even when we opened the first doors of our pictorial advent calendars (no chocolates behind the doors for us 80’s kids), Christmas still seemed like an unreachable distant promise.

For me, I always began to feel that Christmas was on its way once today had passed.  December 10th is my brother’s birthday – Happy Birthday Vince! – and 001as soon as we celebrated that, we were only ever a week or so away before the schools closed for the Christmas holidays, and the real fun started.

The week before Christmas would pass in a flurry of activity, visiting relatives and stocking up on food we would never eat at any other time of the year, like orange and lemon jelly slices and boxes of Eat Me dates. Not to mention the ritual of circling our favourite programmes in the Christmas editions of the TV and Radio Times.

My column for this week’s Canterbury Times gives more reasons why an 80’s Christmas was best. Let me know what you loved about Christmas in the Eighties…

Give Me Just A Little More Time

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Following Saturday’s launch party for ‘Your Eighties’, this week has been another busy one as I juggle ongoing writing commitments, promotion for the latest book and starting work on the next one. Not to mention undertaking necessary mundane tasks, such as mowing the lawn before it morphs into Jumanji, and shopping (not my favourite task at any time of the year) amongst the masses of over-hyped Christmas consumers. Talking of the C-word, this is the first year since leaving home 22 years ago, that my decorations will not be up during the first week in December. I haven’t lost my festive spirit, just the time to embrace the season in the manner I usually do.

Being up against the clock means I’ve taken a bit of a shortcut with this week’s blog, and direct you to my column for Canterbury Times  for more on the launch party. Before I rush off though, I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who supported the launch party and who has bought ‘Your Eighties’. When you’ve finished reading the book, it would be great if you’d leave a review on Amazon (you don’t need to have bought the book from Amazon to leave a review on the site). It makes a big difference to how they list the book, and may even make my life a little less frantic. Thanks!

Author review

‘Your Eighties’ is available from Amazon or directly from My Eighties website.