The My 80s Archives

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The Favourite Five feature on the My 80s radio show, in which my special guests choose their five favourite songs from the Eighties, is proving popular with listeners. All My 80s shows are uploaded to Mixcloud, but just to make things a little bit easier when searching for a particular show, I’ve listed the shows by guest below. Happy listening!

Nik Kershaw

David Ball – Soft Cell

Mari Wilson

Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Peter Coyle – The Lotus Eaters

Clark Datchler – Johnny Hates Jazz

Nick van Eede – Cutting Crew

Junior Giscombe

Leee John – Imagination

Dennis Seaton – Musical Youth

Ian Donaldson – H2O

Bobby McVay – The Fizz

Tracie Young

Andy Kyriacou – Modern Romance

David Brewis – The Kane Gang

Clive Jackson – Doctor & The Medics

Eddie Roxy – Department S

Owen Paul interviewing me

Erkan Mustafa – Grange Hill

Paula Ann Bland – Grange Hill

Andy O – Blue Zoo

Helen McCookerybook – The Chefs

Steve Blacknell

Gnasher – Street artist & muralist

Jamie Days – Author

Alan Read – My 80s quiz master

John Bowen & Wayne Lee – 80’s Smash Hits penpals

Listeners: Tanya Raftery

 

 

 

 

Memory Chips

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One of the things I looked forward to at primary school was when the latest Chip Book Club magazine was given out. I loved browsing through the pages, seeing the latest titles on offer, then eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book of choice. Although the Puffin book club brought me delights such as Meg’s Eggs, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark, and Mrs Pepperpot’s Outing, it was the offerings from Chip which I preferred. None more so than the Chip Club Diary.

A few weeks ago, I found my diaries from 1980 and 1981. Although I hadn’t written much in them on a daily basis, I had completed the information pages in the front of the books, which I thought I’d share with you. Remember, I was only 9 years old in 1980!

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As much as I would like to believe that I’ve evolved since I was in single figures, gypsy tart is still one of my favourite foods, I still support Liverpool (although I’m no longer confused by having blue and white as my favourite colours), and my favourite animal is still a cat. I’d probably still have a chuckle at The Benny Hill Show too if I’m honest!

My tastes had not really changed much the following year, although Elvis had replaced John Travolta as my favourite film star. I think that may have been due to his films being played throughout the summer holidays. Also, Mum is a huge fan of The King so my sub-conscience was probably being influenced by overexposure to his music.

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One of the entries I find interesting is my favourite film. Cactus Jack was a short film starring Kirk Douglas as a cowboy. In the days when going to the pictures involved seeing such a film before the main screening, I had watched it on a family trip to the cinema. I can’t remember what main film we had gone to see, but this spoof Western remains firmly ingrained in my memory.

The 1981 Chip Club Diary contained an additional section I had completed. Now, although my shoe size hasn’t changed since I was 10 years old, I think I may have a modicum of modesty more than I did at that age (see Special Features and Good Points/Bad Points).

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I think my artistic talents may have developed a tad more too!

 

Ready To Launch

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With just over a week to go until ‘Your Eighties’ launch party, my life is currently a surreal mix of stress and excitement, with only the finest of lines between the two. Whilst any angst has manifested itself in the unlikeliest situations – yes, it really did matter that I had neon balloons to decorate the venue – my moments of elation have been somewhat more predictable.

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The arrival of the copies for the party put a huge smile on my face, and knowing a copy of ‘Your Eighties’ was making its way to the archives of the British Library left me grinning from ear to ear. The evening’s entertainment: live music courtesy of Skatacus, and Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) DJing an 80’s disco, plus guests making their way to Kent from all over the UK, are further reasons for me eagerly anticipating what promises to be a fantastic evening.

For a chance join in the fun and win a pair of tickets to my book launch party on 28th November, tell me about the best party you went to during the Eighties, in the comments box below.

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‘Your Eighties’ is available now for pre-order in paperback or on Kindle. Published by Fabrian Books: 28th November.

All Will Be Revealed…

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The past two weeks have been busy for me. As the publication date of ‘Your Eighties’ draws ever closer, I have found myself juggling a number of tasks with non-negotiable deadlines. Yesterday, all that time spent tweaking text, stressing over outcomes, and generally having a nervous breakdown every other day were blown into oblivion when I received my proof copy. Like the pain of childbirth disappearing as soon as a mother holds her baby, the hours I spent locked away from the outside world, in a blur of words, swearing under my breath (and more often out loud), faded to a distant memory as I held the fruits of my labour in my hands.

This Sunday (8th November), you will be able to see one of the reasons why I was so excited, when the book’s cover is revealed. ‘Your Eighties‘ will also be available for pre-order from Sunday, prior to its publication on Saturday 28th November. I eagerly await publication day as it is also when my book launch party will be held. With live music from Kent-based Ska band Skatacus, and an 80’s disco with none other than Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) on the decks, it promises to be a fantastic evening. It will also give me the chance to meet Natalie Owen, the talented designer of the book’s cover, and to catch up with neglected friends and family, who have commented on more than one occasion that they “need an appointment just to speak” to me!

One enjoyable aspect of my hectic schedule this week has been my interview with the Write Romantics. Last year, I contributed a short story to their anthology of Winter Fiction, published to raise funds for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust. This week, the Write Romantics invited me to talk about ‘Your Eighties’, and they are due to publish the interview on their blog this Saturday (7th November). They have the ability to tease out previously unrevealed disclosures from me, so I will be reading it with some trepidation! Let me know your thoughts…

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P.S. The Kindle version of ‘My Eighties’ is currently FREE on Amazon until ‘Your Eighties’ cover reveal on Sunday.

Remembering Terry Sue-Patt

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Last Saturday saw the memorial service for the much loved and much missed Terry Sue-Patt, on what would have been his 51st birthday. A day of mixed emotions, it brought together family and friends from every facet of Terry’s life and, thanks to the hard work of friends including Erkan Mustafa, Yvette Marrs and Lisa Richer, it was a very special day that would have made him incredibly proud.

I had the privilege of contributing the following piece to the order of service, which I now share along with a montage of photos, set to “Stay Gold” by Stevie Wonder and Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Lulu?” were the first words Terry ever asked me. No one had ever told me that or has since, but then Terry had his own unique way of looking at the world and the people in it. Unassuming and modest, he viewed life with an artist’s vision, mixed with a sizeable chunk of childlike wonder. A paradox then, that whilst seeing only the best and beauty in all around him, he often doubted the quality of his own artistic endeavours, which many of us admired for their honest, urban vibrancy. Terry in canvas form.

Since his passing, he has received much deserved recognition for his art, which I’m sure brings a smile to his face, as he looks down on the fickle world he left behind. “Better late than never,” he would be saying, followed by that infectious laugh of his, we all so desperately miss. Yet, despite the devastation we feel at the premature loss of a friend who always wore the biggest of smiles, and his heart on his sleeve, we should try to remember the legacy of his warmth and generosity of spirit, when the darkness of grief comes gnawing at our broken hearts.

Few people can claim to be universally loved by everyone they meet, but I have yet to find anyone who met Terry who did not love him. If the tributes paid to him are any measure of affection, he also touched the lives of those who never had the privilege of meeting him. Whether it was Grange Hill fans lamenting the passing of Benny Green, or Facebook friends giving a final “Shout Out” to a man who delighted in online social interaction, it became obvious there was going to be a Terry-shaped hole in thousands of lives.

As I attempt to patch up the void he has left in my own life, I take some succour in the words of Robert Frost, a poem both Terry and I came to know through our love of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders”.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Terry, in our hearts you will forever stay gold.

A Natty Eighties’ Design

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Regular readers of my blog will remember the competition we launched in the summer, to find the cover design for my next book “Your Eighties”. Today, I am delighted to announce the winner as 23 year old Natalie Owen.

Introduced to EightNatalie Owenies’ music by her parents at a young age, the Nottingham-based designer remembers dancing around the room to Altered Images’ “Happy Birthday” and Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” on repeat when she was about 3 years old. “My all time favourite song growing up was A-Ha’s “Take On Me”. The music video to it was the best,” enthuses Natalie.

A big fan of Eighties’ music, it was her Dad who told Natalie about the competition, then showed her some of his OMD and Midge Ure single covers, to inspire her winning creation. “I liked the bright colours, and wanted to design something that would make the book stand out to other books,” she told me.

Having studied graphic design at Nottingham Trent University, Natalie currently works as a design intern for Nottingham’s local magazine, The Left Lion, and as a marketing intern at the British Red Cross. Until “Your Eighties” is published at the end of November, you will have to take my word on how great Natalie’s design is, but her website shows other examples of her talent. An outstanding and vibrant composition, which perfectly captures the decade, both Fabrian Books and myself are thrilled her entry will be the cover for my next publication. I also look forward to meeting the young designer at the launch party in November, when she will receive one of the first copies of the book. No doubt, she will also join me on the dance floor when Erkan Mustafa (a.k.a. Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) will be DJing an Eighties’ disco, especially if he plays a certain track by his favourite songstress of the era, Clare Grogan!

Your Eighties, Your Cover

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As the final editing date for Your Eighties fast approaches, I have been in discussions about the book’s cover. There have been a few good ideas, but nothing that feels quite right. Then I realised why that was.

The book is based on some wonderful recollections from a wide range of contributors. My Eighties’ readers, subscribers to this blog, and Twitter followers are just some of the people who have taken the time to submit some fantastic memories, to ensure my next book will live up to its title. So, it’s only right that the cover should be yours too.

My Eighties Cover

The cover design needs to reflect what the Eighties meant to you. It can de a drawing, a digitally produced image, a photograph, anything that is your own work, and for which you own the copyright.

The closing date for submissions is 16th August, 2015, and the winning designer will be invited to the book’s launch party, which will feature an 80’s disco hosted by none other than Erkan Mustafa, a.k.a. Grange Hill’s Roland Browning. During the evening, the winner will also receive a copy of their work, and may even meet a few familiar faces from my favourite decade. What better reason to dig out your Crayolas or your 110 camera, and get creative?

Designs can be emailed to me: cover@my-eighties.co.uk, tweeted: @MyEighties or sent via Facebook. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Stay Gold TSP

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The reality of what I am writing has yet to sink in. Emotions of disbelief and sadness are overwhelming as I type what I have been unable to voice. On Friday 22nd May 2015, actor, artist, and the loveliest man anyone could ever hope to meet, Terry Sue-Patt was found dead at his home is East London.

Remembered by a generation as Benny Green, the first Grange Hill pupil to eve58680_10201586065125056_37009664_nr grace our television screens, Terry was also an incredibly talented artist, working under the name TSP Hoodie. The photo shows the pair of us holding one of his pieces which, I am proud to say, has hung in my hallway for the last couple of years. It is the last thing I see at night, as I close my bedroom door, and the first thing I notice as I make my way, bleary eyed, downstairs each morning. Guaranteed to always put a smile on my face, the painting continues to do what Terry always did.

Ask anyone who ever met Terry what he was like, and the words “beautiful”, “fun” and “cheeky” are repeated time and time again. His fellow Grange Hill cast member and close friend, Erkan Mustafa commented yesterday “he loved everybody that he met”. As his many friends and family all know, everybody he met also loved him. Whether you had known him for years or hours, Terry’s warmth and generosity of spirit became a part of your life that you never forgot. Paul McCarthy, who played Tommy Watson alongside Terry in Grange Hill, captures his nature perfectly: “He was a very special man, with no malice or agenda, just a kind soul.”

Despite his early TV appearances and exposure to public scrutiny, like many former pupils of Anna Scher, Terry remained with his feet firmly on the ground, untainted by the superficiality of the entertainment industry. He was even susceptible to moments of being almost starstruck himself. About six months ago, an old episode of Pointless, in which my daughter and I had appeared as contestants, was repeated. The first I knew of it was a text from Terry asking “Is that you on the telly? If it’s not, you’ve got a double!” When I confirmed that it was me, Terry managed to turn what should have been my fifteen minutes of fame into “Hollywood Star” treatment, thanks to his now infamous Facebook “shout outs”. By the time my second episode aired the following day, I felt like I had most of Walthamstow behind us, willing us to win. Unfortunately, the outcome was still that we went out in the second round, due to my incorrect answer to a football question, something my staunch Spurs supporter friend found both unbelievable and hilarious!

We may have differed in our football knowledge, but we shared a love for S.E. Hinton’s book, “The Outsiders”. I had first read the book as an impressionable teenager, and have lost count of how many times I have read it since. Discovering the book later in life, Terry not only enjoyed this tale of true friendship, but found the characters engaging in a way that helped him with his own struggles. Knowing how much I love the book, Terry sent me his copy a few weeks ago, along with a note saying that he would have sent it sooner, but “it was so good I read it twice.”

One of the most poignant moments in the book centres around a poem by Robert Frost. I can think of no better way of saying goodbye to a friend who was taken from us too soon, than with the words he loved to read. Terry, you will forever stay gold.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty's in Brick Lane, Terry's favourite bar.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty’s in Brick Lane, Terry’s favourite bar.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

My Eighties Book

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Tomorrow (Friday 14th Nov) sees the release of my book, “My Eighties”. The first in a series of books on the decade, “My Eighties”, as the title suggests, uses my own recollections of the 80s as a basis for a nostalgic but realistic look back at the decade that subtlety forgot. Alongside my own (sometimes embarrassing) anecdotes, are interviews with some of my Eighties’ favourites, including Hazell Dean, Owen Paul and Paul McCarthy (aka Tommy Watson, from the best kids’ TV show ever, Grange Hill!), plus a visit back to some of the greatest (and some of the worst) tracks to ever find their way onto vinyl.

My Eighties Cover

I hope that in sharing some on my memories, you will be inspired to share some of your own. I would love to hear your stories of my favourite decade, and maybe even feature some of them in a book I am currently working on. You can send them to me via my website: Your Eighties

For those of you who would like to read my book, it is available from Amazon for less than the price of a cup of coffee!   Order here

Although currently only available in Kindle edition, you do not need a Kindle to read it – just download the free Kindle App which allows you to read it on PC, tablet, mobile, iPhone, etc.

Let me know what you think…

Art For Art’s Sake

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From a very young age, I have loved Art in all its forms. Whether it was my own early creations, which relatives dutifully received on every occasion I could deem special (basically any day ending in a Y!), or my attempts to “improve” my environment, which included a full-length painting on my bedroom door of my then favourite group, Immaculate Fools, when I was 14 (my parents were very encouraging and tolerant), I have painted and created. However, in more recent years the creativity has been inched out in favour of appreciation, which is why I could not resist the opportunity of viewing a Banksy creation in situ.

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So, last Sunday I made my way to Payers Park in Folkestone to view Banksy’s “Art Buff”. The photo shows me beside the artwork, which less than 24 hours later would have an unwarranted addition to its empty plinth:

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Banksy aside, there are a number of urban artists producing some fantastic pieces, but who do not receive the media hype of the elusive artist. One such artist is Terry Sue-Patt (TSP Hoodie). If the name sounds familiar, you were probably a Grange Hill fan when the programme first launched. Terry played the part of Benny Green, 58680_10201586065125056_37009664_nthe sidekick of Peter “Tucker” Jenkins, and the first Grange Hill pupil to ever appear on our TV screens. Some of Terry’s work is inspired by, and features, his Grange Hill character. Exhibiting alongside the talents of artists such as Norwich-based David “Gnasher” Nash, and Lisa Richer (LisArt) in Brick Lane’s “Monty’s Bar”, Terry’s work is both accessible and affordable. Last year, I bought one of Terry’s “Benny Green” pieces, during his Grange Hill Exhibition at the bar, and it has hung proudly in my hallway ever since. I never tire of looking at it – surely a sign of enduring art.

I love to discuss Art almost as much as viewing and having a go at creating it, and was in my element when I happened to encounter an Art lecturer, whilst working in a book shop. What began as a discussion about a local Eric Gill sculpture, ended almost as a confessional of our own artistic shortcomings. He admitted that he hates people looking over his shoulder at what he is sketching, when he works outdoors. I revealed that for about the last ten years, I have not finished any of the paintings I have started. Some may only have an square inch piece missing, but they rePunkmain unfinished. The lecturer’s theory was that in not finishing my paintings, I was preventing them from being judged. When a painting is finished, the artist is saying they are happy with the piece (or at least happy for it to be viewed), and therefore open to criticism. In keeping my work incomplete, it stopped it being criticized. Heavy stuff, but it made sense.

In an attempt to get me past this fear of criticism, and to actually finish a painting for once, I thought I would publish some of my teenage artwork, which I did during the 80s. The punk was a school project, with the right half being cut from a magazine, and the left half painted by me when I was about 14.  I painted the (lopsided) Marlon Brando shortly afterwards, during some time off school, when I had happened to watch “On The Waterfront”.

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I had injured my arm, and had to have it in a sling, which meant I painted Marlon right-handed (I’m a leftie). That’s my excuse why he’s wonky anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

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I hope that anyone who owned a copy of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”  album will recognise my efforts on the right. Again, this would have been drawn during my mid-teens. It was one of the many, many music based pictures I drew or painted, and now it, and my other work, is out there for the world to see…Don’t judge me too harshly!