Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

Back in the day when I was but a young whippersnapper, local newspapers, especially the free variety, were an entirely different animal. These days they are glossy and more magazine-like, lots of colour and such. But really not much in the way of substance. Lovely pictures, yes. Lots of info about local happenings, but they all end up being like one giant ad for stuff you cannot afford.

Back when I was young there were three main ones. There was the What's On, a glorified pamphlet really, with a semi-glossy cover which had the same basic artwork of the church on the banner but a different colour every month (yes, it was a monthly) and it was full of info about church services and dispensing chemists and coffee morning and WI meetings, along with ads for local businesses such as Webb's, Knight's hairdressers, Tenterden Taxis and Potter Bros.

Then there was the Ashford Advertiser, a weekly rag with a couple articles of nothing very exciting on the front and classified ads in the rest of it. In the later part of the 80s I seem to recall it was replaced by the KM extra, although it still exists in a wildly different format now, more a magazine-style thing than a newspaper, but printed in basic black and white and only available in the Tenterden Gateway, apparently.

Also in the late 80s appeared the Wealden Advertiser  which is still around and is basically the same as it always was with the notable exception that you can now read it online, and some of the ads are interactive! Woo hoo!

The other main free rag from that time was the Adscene  which seemed to revel in its glorious cheap-and-nastiness and shoddy writing. The ads were in there just like in the Ashford Advertiser but they used a different typeface to make it look more cool and new, and they made an attempt to include articles throughout, as well as car reviews and entertainment news.

Why am I telling you this? Well, the other day I was helping my Sis have a clear-out of her shed and in there was an old trouser-press which had belonged to my grandparents, who used to live in that house. I could see something sticking out of the trouser-press and so, being a curious chap, I had to open it and find out. There inside were pages from an edition of Adscene dated Friday October 21, 1983.
Hooo boy. Here was a trip down memory lane of the highest order. So let's leaf through these pages and have a looksee what we can find out...

For starters we can see that house prices were wildly different. The three 'Houses Of the Week' listed  were a 3 bed detached house with a garage and space for 3 cars in Herne Bay for £37,950, a 2-bed ground floor flat with private parking and a 95-year lease in Folkestone for £24,750 and a Sittingbourne 2 bed end terrace with garage and double glazing for a mere £21,500. Wow.

Next page includes a review of the new Nissan/Datsun Cherry Turbo, 1.5L fuel injected hatchback, an 'exciting sports saloon giving the family man the opportunity to enjoy his driving while still having an entirely practical hatchback for more domestic outings'. Price - a sweet £6600.

At the Renault dealership they were offering a brand new Fidelity Wanderer cordless telephone with the purchase of any new Renault. The Renault 9 Freeway was available for a cool £4995 on the road.

Moving on to the job ads, there seemed to be several openings in the printing industry, for job titles including Paste-up Comp, Process Colour Platemaker andTypographer. Also an intriguing ad for women. "If you're a woman and you want to get into selling, here's your first appointment." bellows the headline, followed by a long bit of guff about 'starting a sales career with Britain's largest professional sales training organisation.' Apparently, ladies, you could 'realistically expect salary, commission and expenses of £6,000 in your first year.' Doesn't that sound exciting?

The Leisure & Information Roundup  includes pieces about Kent & East Sussex Railway's Children's Days, a chance to learn all about the harpsichord at Ashford library and a lecture by renowned wildlife artist David Shepherd at The Stour Centre.
Not David Shepherd. Just one of his paintings.

An interesting ad on the same page for a place on Elwick Road named The Wig and Gavel, presumably named because of its close proximity to the Courthouse, states that "The Private Hall of The Wig & Gavel is now available for Weddings, receptions or other Private Functions. Mr & Mrs Stoker now invite you to come and visit the hall in its newly decorated state."

At the Kent Suite of The Top Rank in Ashford High Street was a dance exercise class named "Body Shop", offering 'Dance Aerobics Jazz Ballet, "Funky Disco" etc.'

In the cinema was National Lampoon's Vacation, Flash Gordon, Staying Alive and The Dark Crystal.

Ah! the TV listings! Excellent!

These were the days when we only had 4 channels, and on a Saturday TV started at 6.25 am on TVS with TV-am,

8.25 am on BBC1 with Inch High Private Eye,  10.10 am on BBC2 with Open University  and not until 1.55pm on the new Channel 4 with A Kind Of Living. Some of the shows will be very familiar to you US folks, such as Remington Steele, Hart To Hart, Benson, Diff'rent Strokes, Magoo, Hardcastle & McCormick... however the English shows you'll be less familiar with.

 My friends over here will probably get a huge blast of nostalgia from these names though... Saturday Superstore, Terrahawks, Hi-De-Hi!, The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show, Blankety Blank, Juliet Bravo, Carrott's Lib, Russ Abbot's Madhouse, Game For A Laugh, Brookside, The Sky At Night, Play Your Cards Right, Omnibus, Heart Of The Matter, The South Bank Show and Right To Reply. There were also all the weird and wonderful morning shows on Sunday that covered not only religion and farming but politics (Weekend World) and all those shows for 'minorities' like Digame! and Murun Bucsanstangur.

Sports programming was different too. Saturday lunchtimes were not the same without either World Of Sport featuring the fabulous Dickie Davies on ITV or the Beeb's Grandstand with Desmond Lynam and the wonderful Bob Wilson with Football Focus.  This particular weekend featured horseracing from Newbury, International Snooker, Boxing and Darts.

Sunday's TV was always a bit varied, with BBC1 always having an afternoon matinee (Half A Sixpence), period drama (Jane Eyre), a bit of Bonanza, Songs Of Praise in the early evening and some more historical drama (By The Sword Divided).

ITV's programming on Sunday replaced the afternoon matinee with American shows like Battlestar Galactica, quiz shows such as Sale Of The Century and University Challenge and then the early evening brought us another religious show, Highway,  then later we'd have Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime and Clive James on Television.

There were always strange late-night shows(Join Us For Bridge, Company)follwed usually by the weather and Closedown, where one would see the station logo (that famous spinning globe or similar) and hear the strains of the National Anthem, followed by a black screen and finally, snow and white noise.

The next pages have articles about a couple who 'plan to beat redundancy' by turning their Tudor cottage into a B&B (not sure if they ever did, but the cottage is still there), a plan to turn a disused school building into a community centre, a club for disabled people looking for more members, and a visit to the Eastwell Manor Hotel by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Kent branch of the Elvis Presley fan club were planning to hold a six-hour video and disco show devoted to the King.

Then there were some of the recurring ads each week that had memorable names or taglines. "Don't Just Seed It - SOD IT!", "Tip-It Mini Skips" and "Come To Terms With Hartnell-Brede Motors" are ones you just don't forget overnight.

There were full page ads for B&Q DIY Superstore (Shop Late 'Til 8 Monday To Saturday, Vymura £3.75 a roll), and Queensway (Autumn Sale Bonanza, Geneva 3-Piece Suite £299.95) and even Tesco, where we learn that baked beans were 16p a can, 5lb of frozen peas were £1.06 and a bottle of Quosh was 39 and a half pence. You could also buy 4 toilet rolls for 59p. Whoa.

Times have changed and so have we. Prices have risen, places have come and gone but news has essentially stayed the same. The one thing I really do miss, though, is that back in the 80s the free papers and adsheets like Adscene and Advertiser came to your door, and now you have to hunt them down. Finding your weekly copy of the Wealden Advertiser is a weekly ritual, usually involving going to Waitrose or somewhere similar.

Well, I suppose it gets you out of the house, doesn't it?

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