Back to the 80s

I’m currently working on my third as yet unnamed novel. Part of it is set back in 1985 and during the course of research today (involving hours of distraction on the web) I was thinking about all those Hollywood Blockbusters from that decade. Some have become iconic, for good and not so good  reasons. Some have stayed with me personally for special reasons, bringing back happy memories of being a teenager (there were some). Others have become part of our national consciousness, the States’ popular culture really becoming enmeshed with ours so that language and looks and attitudes changed Britain as much as Thatcher.

So here is my top five faves and top five shockers (in no particular order).


1. Rainman: Touching and moving and a reminder that Tom Cruise could actually act, despite Top Gun, and before  Scientology made him a joke. Dustin’s acting ability has never been called into question. This film just confirmed it.

2. ET: Quite possibly the best family film ever, always guaranteed a smile and many tears. Introduced the concept of Hallowe’en trick or treating to the UK (not so good).

3. Beverly Hills Cop: Action, drama and laugh-out loud moments. And some bromance going on.

4. Fatal Attraction: The feminist in me shouldn’t like this portrayal of a woman who brought us the phrase ‘bunny boiler’. However, it’s exciting and the tension at the end is spectacular. And Glenn Close superb.

5. Back to the Future: Still amazing after all these years….


1. Rambo – Muscles and violence never did it for me

2. Anything with Swarzenegger for the same reason as above

3. The Breakfast Club: Boring and annoying

4. Porky’s – Sexist nonsense – can’t believe I watched it all the way through with a boyfriend who should have known better

5. Flashdance: Welder turns ballet dancer… I mean, really?

Gosh, I could go on and on but I’ll let you have your own memories of the days when it was cool to have big hair and big egos.


Choose Wham!

When Lord Lucan disappeared in 1974 after his children’s nanny was found murdered in his Belgravia home, my uncle took action. Because he sported a moustache and was dark-haired and of a similar age, he had a t-shirt printed with the caption ‘I am not Lord Lucan’. This was the first slogan t-shirt I ever saw.

It was about a decade later when I got my first and didn’t know then that it would become an iconic piece of 80s memorabilia. In a record shop in Exeter, a friend and I each bought a ‘Choose Wham!” (not ‘Choose Life’) t-shirt and put them on in the ladies in Debenhams. We then strutted around the shops… A couple of years later, I ran the world in those same streets and had the t-shirt for that too.

The 80s was a  great time to be a student, not only because we had full grants, but because we had a prime target: Thatcher. The campus at Lancaster was always full of Smash the Tories, etc. And no student was a proper student without a Smiths t-shirt of some description.

These days slogan t-shirts have lost their power and tend to be ‘humorous’ or ironic (‘Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls’ was one I saw around Teignmouth last summer). They are also printed up by school-leavers, hen-and-stag parties, and any group or sports club going.

I don’t wear them now I am a woman of a certain age (apart from as pyjama tops). But I still treasure my Choose Wham t-shirt as it sums up my teenage years. Not quite cool but proud of it.