Monday, 12 December 2016

1986 and all that...

1986, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, was a banner year for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  In honour of its 30th anniversary - and because we’re rapidly heading for 2017 - here’s a little celebration.
Hunters Foods Xmas do, my friend Helen is standing next to me.  Taken at Kane's Wine Bar (now long gone), Corby - December 1986  
Top 10 Films (US)

1: Top Gun
2: “Crocodile” Dundee
3: Platoon
4: The Karate Kid, part 2
5: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
6: Back To School
7: Aliens
8: The Golden Child
9: Ruthless People
10: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I was in the Sixth Form for the first half of the year and a group of us went to the cinema quite often - though we had to convince one of the dads to drive us each time.  In late January, we went to see Rocky IV (released in 1985, so it made that years top 10) which I remember vividly because my friend Sean Marshall insisted on calling it “Rocky Eye-Vee”.  Just to show we weren’t affluent teenagers, I should point out that our local cinemas at the time (Kettering Ohio, Corby Forum and Bentley’s At Burton Latimer) weren’t part of a chain - they were glorious flea-pits (Kettering, which I wrote about here, was built into the upper tiers of the old cinema whilst the ground floor was a bingo hall) and it cost £1.50 to see a film.  With most of that same group of friends, I co-edited the student magazine for that year too (which I wrote about here).

According to my diary, my favourite film of the year was “Crocodile” Dundee (which I still love).  Top Gun was also very popular with us and we saw it a lot, mostly due to the fact that it hung around for such a long time so we caught it on several occasions.  The same thing happened with Dirty Dancing in 1987.
I may have had a bit of a crush on Kathleen Turner...
Spies Like Us was another favourite (I re-watched it recently and it doesn’t stand up at all well, unfortunately), Young Sherlock HolmesThe Jewel Of The Nile (not as good as Romancing The Stone but, hey, Kathleen Turner…), Aliens (my second favourite film of the year), Nightmare On Elm Street 2 (which none us particularly enjoyed, since it departed so far from the original), the incredible (and unsettling) Blue Velvet, Poltergeist 2 (which was very odd but good fun - and the first film I went to see with my friend Pauline Weston, who I wrote about here) and the genius that was Big Trouble In Little China.  Cobra, the very silly and very violent (and very, very 80s if you re-watch it) Sylvester Stallone film (he’d apparently been in the running for Beverly Hills Cop and took his ideas with him) was the first 18-rated film I saw at the cinema (along with Nick Duncan - who I wrote about here - and Craig Tankard - who gets introduced later - at Corby).

Top 10 Books (US version, as per the New York Times - couldn’t find one for the UK)

1: IT, by Stephen King
2: Red Storm Rising, by Tom Clancy
3: Whirlwind, by James Clavell
4: The Bourne Supremacy, by Robert Ludlum
5: Hollywood Husbands, by Jackie Collins
6: Wanderlust, by Danielle Steel
7: I’ll Take Manhattan, by Judith Krantz
8: Last of the Breed, by Louis L’Amour
9: The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
10: A Perfect Spy, by John le Carré

My favourite book of the year was IT (which I wrote about here)

UK Top 10 Singles

1: Don’t Leave Me This Way, by The Communards
2: Chain Reaction, by Diana Ross
3: I Want To Wake Up With You, by Boris Gardner
4: When The Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going), by Billy Ocean
5: Take My Breath Away, by Berlin
6: The Lady In Red, by Chris De Burgh
7: Papa Don’t Preach, by Madonna
8: Spirit In The Sky, by Doctor & The Medics
9: So Macho, by Sinitta
10: Rock Me Amadeus, by Falco

I liked a lot of these (hey, it was the 80s) but most of my favourites didn’t hit the chart.  I loved the Cliff Richard & The Young Ones version of Living Doll (and still do), Debbie Harry’s French Kissin’ In The USA (written by Chuck Lorre, who went on to create some sit-coms...), the double-whammy from the Bangles (Manic Monday and Walk Like An Egyptian), Livin’ On A Prayer from Bon Jovi, Queen’s A Kind Of Magic, the wonderful Levi-related re-releases from Sam Cooke (Wonderful World) and Jackie Wilson (Reet Petite), Bowie was back (with Absolute Beginners), The Damned had Eloise, Broken Wings from Mr Mister, two crackers from A-ha (The Sun Always Shines On TV and Hunting High And Low), soundtrack favourites Glory Of Love by Peter Cetera and Power Of Love by Huey Lewis and the News, plus Spitting Image’s wonderful The Chicken Song.  My big favourite of the year though was Addicted To Love by Robert Palmer, a cracking song enhanced by a cracking video.

UK Top 10 Albums

1: True Blue, by Madonna
2: Brothers In Arms, by Dire Straits
3: Now 8, by various artists
4: Graceland, by Paul Simon
5: Whitney Houston, by Whitney Houston
6: Now 7, by various artists
7: Hunting High and Low, by a-ha
8: A Kind of Magic, by Queen
9: Silk & Steel, by Five Star
10: Revenge, by Eurythmics

My favourite, which came in at number 39, was Riptide by Robert Palmer.  True Blue, the single, was everywhere that summer, most discos (either school ones or the various 18th birthdays we were going to) played it (as well as The Lady In Red) and it was big at Tymes nightclub too.  It took me a long time to appreciate it again after that kind of overkill (Lady In Red hasn’t fared so well).

1986 events - Highlights and low points (for me and the world at large)

7th - The Society Of Motor Manufacturers and Traders announces that more than 1.8 million new cars were sold in the UK during 1985, beating the record set in 1983.  The Ford Escort is the most popular model and all of the 10 top models are built by Ford, Vauxhall or Austin Rover.
The Westland Affair claims big government scalps - Michael Heseltine resigns as Defence Secretary (9th) and Leon Brittan resigns as Tade and Industry Secretary (24th).
19th - the first PC virus, called Brain, starts spreading.  Hardly anyone has a PC.
20th - The UK and France announce plans to build the Channel Tunnel.
24th - Voyager 2 makes its first encounter with Uranus - ha, you said your anus (hey, I was sixteen, it was funny…)

3rd - Pixar Animation Studios are opened in California.
10th - I turned 17.
17th - I go to London by bus with my friends Rob Nichols, Mark Guyett, Sean Marshall, Steve Corton and Phil Cross.  We have an excellent time.
In Kettering bus station (also long since demolished), very early in the morning on our way to London.  This was taken with my disc camera, hence the grainy image.  From left - Rob, Sean (Rocky Eye-Vee), Mark, me, Phil
10th - the first sanitary towel advert is broadcast on UK TV
30th - the BBC2 TWO ident takes a bow (and stays in place until 1991)

5th - Jean Michel Jarre performs Rendezvous Houston in Houston, Texas.  Years later, that will be one of my favourite albums to power walk to.
7th - Clive Sinclair sells the rights to the ZX Spectrum and other inventions to Amstrad.
11th - The Chart Show (the first place I will later see Nirvana perform Smells Like Teen Spirit) debuts on C4.
17th - John McCarthy is kidnapped in Beirut
Also on the 17th, the Three Hundred And Thirty Five Years War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly is ended by treaty.
26th - Chernobyl.  A mishandled safety test kills “at least 4,056 people and damages almost $7bn of property”.  Radioactive fallout is concentrated near Belarus and Ukraine, leading to 350,000 people being forcibly resettled from those areas.  Tests afterwards showed “traces of radioactive deposits unique to Chernobyl were found in nearly every country in the northern hemisphere”.

21st - My Dad & I start to watch A Very Peculiar Practice.  It is very peculiar indeed.
25th - Sport Aid, supported by Band Aid and UNICEF, organised Run The World, a worldwide event comprising a total of 19.8m runners who ran, jogged or walked 10km to support African famine relief charities.  I ran the local course between Rothwell and Desborough with Nick and Mark (and wrote about it here).
Mark Guyett (centre of picture on the left) and me Run The World
12th - Austin Rover is renamed the Rover Group, four years after changing from British Leyland
20th - Montsaye School Lower Sixth trip to Great Yarmouth.  We have a brilliant time.
21st - I finish working at the Co-op (my place of regular employment - after school and on Saturdays - for the past couple of years), which has helped pay for most of my driving lessons.
22nd - Maradona beats England with one sensational goal and one assisted by the ‘Hand Of God’, knocking us out of the World Cup (Argentina go on to win the competition).  Gary Lineker wins the Golden Boot with six goals.
23rd - I start work at Hunters Foods as an accounts clerk.  I meet Craig, who is 2 days younger than me and we instantly become great friends - as well as cinema buddies, we go on holiday together until the early 90s.  I meet Pauline, who would go on to become one of my best friends, on the 27th.
On the beach at Great Yarmouth - from left, James McDonald, Steve Corton, me, Phil Cross, Nick
28th - Estate agent Suzy Lamplugh vanishes after a meeting in London.

9th - Yorkshire Television (YTV) becomes the first British TV channel to broadcast 24 hours a day.  The other TV regions do likewise over the next two years, leading to scores of 80s nightclub goers coming home to veg out in front of Get Stuffed! and Hitman And Her.
Nick & I at Corton Beach on holiday.  Disc camera, flash, twilight - it wasn't a great combination...
GCE ‘O’ Level and CSE’s are replaced by GCSE’s.  I’ve just started work and already my CV makes me look like a dinosaur…
6th - Casualty starts on BBC1.  Thirty years later and it’s still bloody going…
8th - I pass my driving test first time.

27th - BBC1 starts a full daytime service.  Before this, apart from covering special events, it closed down during weekday mornings and afternoons, though it broadcast pages from Ceefex starting in May 1983.
‘The Big Bang’ in The London Stock Exchange abolishes fixed commission charges, leading to electronic trading.
29th - The completed M25 (the first section of which opened in 1975) is officially opened.
With my first car, a Vauxhall Viva.  Trust me, white socks and black loafers was a fashionable look back then...
UNESCO designates the first World Heritage sites in the UK - England has Durham Castle and Cathedral, Ironbridge Gorge, Studley Royal Park (including the ruins of Fountains Abbey), Stonehenge and Avebury and associated sites.  Northern Ireland is represented by the Giant's Causeway and the Causeway Coast and Wales by the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.
1st - I buy my first car.  It is both a wonderful passport to independence as well as being a slightly dodgy purchase which lasts me less than a year.
16th - The Singing Detective, by Dennis Potter, debuts.  I remember being astounded by the scope of it but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it since.
Craig Tankard & me, performing a comedy routine we wrote, at the Hunters Foods staff Christmas dinner
8th - “If you see Sid, tell him!”  British Gas shares are floated on the Stock Exchange and the initial public offering values the company at £9bn.
17th - Ringo Starr narrates his last ever Thomas The Tank Engine episode.  I won’t actually see any of them for another twenty years, when we start showing them to Dude.
Dad's traditional 'picture of the kids at Christmas' - me, Sarah and Tracy

Thanks for the memories, 1986!

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