Do You Remember the 70s?

...ah, now you're talking. My teenage years. Hormones, under age drinking and bad poetry...I really, really enjoyed this decade. Aged 10 when it started, 20 when it ended, so pretty much covers all the drama, first experiences (though since my kids may read this you may be disappointed about what I am going to admit to here...) and fun of going from glam to punk, Heath to Thatcher and Mini-skirts to, um, Miniskirts? Ah, the blue eye shadow, feather cuts, winter of discontent, homework by candlelight, garbage and rats in the streets, Silver Jubilee, Compact Cassette, last days of the Teddy Boy Bouncers in their Crombies, Boob tubes, Skinheads return, Disco, long hair and big knots in your tie...did you refer to your first credit card as an Access Card? Oh, yes...'Enry Cooper as a Brut 33 model? C'mon...Splash it all over? Why did people get all their photos put on slides? Why were slide shows so bloody boring...

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Under Construction...

First Concert

I couldn't swear to it but I think the first concert I went to was Mud at the Colston Hall, I wasn't a huge fan but my mate Kevin was. I still have a Mud On Road badge somewhere. If that wasn't the first then Billy Connolly probably was, I had to get the train to Cardiff on my own to see that, wearing a big parka to hide the cassette tape recorder I was sneaking in to record it. Ironically not a great show, the crowd was apparently confused he wasn't Max Boyce and kept heckling him. When someone shouted the punch line to a gag he gave up and walked off stage. Somewhere I have the cassette tape I made, it's hard to listen to because I am laughing so hard all over it.

Some name dropping that will impress nobody but is good mental exercise for my aging memory...Saw Hot Chocolate at Colston Hall, not a lot of people there so they had everyone move down to the front to dance. Not a good development for a crap dancer and self conscious teen there on his own. Good job it was dark.

Saw Jasper Carrot with mate Nick, just as Funky Moped made him semi-famous. Another under sold concert but I nearly wet myself laughing. Actually, probably did since being underage meant you had to overindulge in the bar first, during and after.

First Bank

I graduated from a post office savings account (that I think still has about 25p in it if I could ever find the payment book) to a proper bank when getting my first paychecks became a reality. My branch was the National Westminster in Brislington. You had four choices that I remember: NatWest, Barclays, Midland or Lloyds. No great reason for this choice, I was working at Trist-Draper up the road and it was also my Dad's bank.

There was nothing much to show for my bank account, all you got was a cheque book, the Cheque Guarantee Card that made that useful wouldn't show up for another 6 months of good behavior. Meanwhile nobody would take a cheque without a check card so it was only good for getting money out at the bank. ATM's did not exist so if you needed money you had to nip down to the bank in your lunch hour to get it. Of course the bank took a lunch hour too, so there was a narrow window of time where you could get out before the bank closed or shrank to one miserable teller. Well, you and everyone else of course who also all had the same lunch hour. This drove me nuts. I was pretty certain most of the day bank tellers sat around doing bugger all until just before their lunch break when they reduced their front counter staff to avoid the pre-lunchtime stampede that apparently took them by surprise every single day. Queues would form and compound your frustration by making you choose which one to join. You would of course join the one where grandma was paying her penny collection in and the teller would never even bat an eyelid as they shoved the "closed" sign up on the counter when your turn finally came up. Amazingly, even though this was pre the bullet proof glass era when a counter was just a table separating you from young Miss Perky (Ms hadn't been invented by the PC crowd yet), nobody reached across and throttled them. Mess up the trip to the bank at lunchtime and you would starve, there was no other way to get money. Did I mention? No ATMs!

Banks were not really interested in individuals as customers, they were there for the small businesses more than anything. If you needed a bank loan you would need to actually meet the bank manager so he could size you up and make you squirm before trusting you with 50 quid. The 70's saw this shift a bit as banks started to compete for monthly salary slave customers like me where Staff type jobs paid direct into bank accounts. They used gimmicks like pictures of badgers on their cheque books. Oh yes, cutting edge it was...

By the time I had moved to British Aerospace (the Nat West branch opposite Filton works was a nightmare every lunchtime) they were experimenting with a kind of ATM. The first one I saw was called a Cash Point Card I think. It was single use, you inserted the plastic card with optical reader holes punched in it, it gave you some cash, 10 quid or according to the fixed denomination on your card, then you received your card back a few days later in the mail. Very, very few branches had them installed and they were inside the branch, missing whole the point of the convenience possibilities. These evolved slowly into the ATM's everywhere today.

Credit cards were New and Exotic and only came in two flavors for most of us, Access Cards (Your Flexible Friend according to the ads...) or Visa Cards. You would have to wait for the 80's for American Express to make an impression though even then not many shops accepted them (Anyone my age upon hearing American Express will have a Pamela Stephenson flashback - that will do nicely, and would you like to rub my... ). I got into trouble with my first one though that story really belongs in the 80's, it ends with my bank manager ceremoniously snipping up my card. In the 70's they were just not that useful, again no 24x7 card readers in Petrol stations or the like. For most things you just needed your Cheque Book and Cheque Card and looked forward to the friendly overdraft letters.


Catch phrases and slogans from 70's adverts still swirl about in my head. Uh oh, I feel a list coming on...Nah, how about a quiz?...(answers found by double clicking in brackets)

Name the product:

  • That's 'andy 'arry, stick it in the oven (BirdsEyePizza)
  • The worta in Maghorca don't taste like wot it oughta (Heinakan)
  • Watch out, there's a Humphrey about (UnigateMilk)
  • 'course you can Malcolm...(VicksSinexNasalSpray)
  • I'll risk it, for a ......... (SwissKit)
  • and my mummy says I'm going to be a proper little madam (ClarksShoes)
  • Avez-vous un cuppa? (BrookeBondPGTipsChimps)
  • Getting your head down sweetie? (CinzanoBianco)
  • Were you truly wafted here from paradise? Nah, Luton Airport (LorraineChaseCampari)

Miss 'em? Go look them up here TV Ark - The Television Museum or UK Commercials


Haircuts happened at the barbers in Stockwood shops, next to the off license. Smelt of Brylcream and you always got the same haircut, no matter what you asked for. My hair was generally long and messy and I would ask for a Feather Cut because that was what my mate Richard had. As far as I can tell from the scary pictures of the time I never got anything resembling a feather, definitely more hint of mop.

For most of my youth I insisted in having long hair because everyone else did, I must say it looks bloody stupid now. I liked 80s hair, on everyone else that is, mine was and always will be, crap. When the Salons appeared in Bristol like Guy Fawkes and Shaggers ("I've had it off at Shaggers") I went there to get it cut. Expensive though it was, the pre-sheering shampoo from a teenage trainee was the closest I got to touching the opposite sex for way too many years. In fact my sister ended up as a Shaggers apprentice when she left school. Some people always saw their own pet hairdresser, I always made the appointment with whoever had an empty slot in the schedule. Thinking about it, that's still how I book my haircuts.


I was a boy, I had a mate, I went fishing. A coarse fishing license for the Kennet and Avon Canal  and a box of maggots from Ken Davies on Red Lion Hill and you were in business. My dad or his would drop us off at 6am near End of The World Lane in Keynsham, or Pixash Lane in Saltford, for a morning spent catching bugger all and lying about pubescent milestones we hadn't actually reached yet. Ah, the joy of ledgering and talking utter crap, we didn't even have beer.

For a long time my fishing tackle was a bamboo rod from a family holiday at Brixham. Somewhere along the line it got upgraded to a cheap fiberglass version of the same thing, an instant fishing kit they always sold at seaside resorts, most likely Cornwall this time. By the mid 70's though, I had graduated to a trip to Veals to admire the air guns I would never be allowed to have and pick out a proper 12 ft Milbro fishing rod, with screw on 12 inch flex tip...and who doesn't want one of those. None of this superior equipment helped my fishing skills. A trip with cousin Paul showed just how bad an angler I was, he kept reeling gudgeon after gudgeon out of the same spot under Newbridge bridge near Bath while I was sitting glaring at the bubbles completely nibbleless.

There was one thing worse than not catching anything: catching eels. Even after hearing the phrase Slippery as an Eel, unless you have handled one straight from the river you would be amazed at just how slippery eels are. The coating of an eel has the sort of chemistry that means you can't wash it off, it just gets more slimy. The only way to deal with it is to let it dry on your hands and flake off later. Eels are lively buggers who can get around quite well on land, they also tend to swallow your hook. It's all round bad news for both you and the damned doomed eel. I have fished with people who just cut the line when they saw an eel on the end, but this is frowned on since the eel just has a lingering death with hook and line embedded in it's stomach. Real men (or 12 year old boys) cut the head off the eel for a quick end to all. Easier said than done. I am amazed that trying to hold on to the slipperiest thing in the multiverse while you try to behead it with a pen knife hasn't shown up as a Reality TV game yet. Best method in my opinion was to stand on it then stab at it's head while trying to avoid your toes. A dogs dinner no matter what you try.

Though I was never a fishing nut, it has been at the back of my mind for years to get into it again. I wish I hadn't sold my rod for a tank of motorbike fuel. There is just something about sitting around waiting for nothing to bite...This time, I will be bringing beer, but I will still lie about my sexual milestones.

Platform Shoes




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