Monday, 15 August 2016

The neon glow of 80s nostalgia...

I'm currently basking in the neon glow of 80s nostalgia.

Don't worry, I'm not going to indulge in recreating the fashions of the era.  Sporting large hair, a power suit with American Footballer-style shoulder pads and blue eyeliner is going to be a little excessive for a trip to the shop to get my bread and paper.

But the decade of excess seems to be appearing all around me.

My musical tastes have always been influenced by this era, as this is when I became a teenager.  I love those compilation albums, and sing along heartily with all the songs much to daughter's dismay.

I've also become a fan of The Goldbergs.  This too annoys her as she discovered it on E4, but now I also watch it which of course makes it instantly uncool.  She carries on watching it though because it's so good.

The Goldbergs is a comedy about the family dynamic and contains huge chunks of key 80s music, films, fashion and gadgets (e.g. Rubik's cubes and top-loader VCRs). 

Adam Goldberg writes the show, and his childhood-self is the main character.  He filmed key moments from his childhood on a camcorder in a sort of visual diary, and this provides the source material for the storylines.

Then there's the more high-brow study of the time, courtesy of historian Dominic Sandbrook.  He has a three-part series about The Eighties, the first of which managed to portray Delia Smith as the leader of a revolution.

I have to be honest, when I think of revolutionaries it's probably Che Guevara rather than Delia which springs to mind, but it was an interesting viewpoint on how our lives forever changed in those ten years when Mrs Thatcher ruled from Downing Street, and Delia was Queen of the TV cookery shows.

I'm a big fan of Delia, but quite how her teaching us the wonders of cooking dried pasta was more of a turning point than Mrs Thatcher selling off the social housing stock and the privatisation of major companies is perhaps open for more discussion. 

As for her being a revolutionary - I can't imagine many young people wearing t-shirts with Delia's face emblazoned across them, can you?!

Do you have the mental strength to be an Olympian?

I do love a good online quiz.

There's nothing like it to while away a few moments when I should be working, but in fairness I'm my own boss and entitled to an occasional break - that's what I'll tell myself at my next annual review anyway.

While I was supping one of my numerous daily cups of tea - just wondered if there's a recommended allowance for tea, the same way as there is for fruit and veg? - I had a go at the 'Do you have the mentality of an Olympian?' quiz on the BBC website (

I can safely say that I don't have the body nor the athletic ability of an Olympian, but funnily enough it turns out I qualify as a 'solid athlete', which tells me I have 'most of the mental strengths needed to be a good athlete, but I may struggle to challenge Usain Bolt & Co to get on the medals podium'.

This insight caused me much amusement, as I thought back to my school days and the PE lesson where I was told by the teacher 'You'll never be a sprinter, because sprinters are born not made.  But you could always train to be a long distance runner.'

To date, I've never taken this risk either.  I'm sure Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe are much relieved. 

That's not to say I haven't run in the past.  I took part in the 'Run the World' fundraiser and shuffled along nicely, and I've even been known to run for a bus occasionally.  However, due to a niggling knee injury, walking is now my chosen method of transportation and exercise.

The quiz was quite insightful in some ways though, as it was written by a sports psychologist from Loughborough University.

It turns out I score highly in the following categories: conscientiousness; perfectionism; focus; social support; motivation and competitiveness.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't score so highly in self confidence.  Funnily enough, I don't have the belief that I can be an Olympian - not until tea drinking becomes an Olympic sport anyway!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Who you gonna call... the BBFC?

The Bach clan went to the cinema the other day to watch Ghostbusters.

Now, I haven't seen the original - I know, I must be the only person on the planet of my age group who hasn't - and I must say I really enjoyed this version.

For a start, I think Melissa McCarthy is brilliant - she was really good as Sookie in the Gilmore Girls, which I'm pleased to hear is being brought back for some follow-up films - and I thought the mainly-female cast worked well.

There are also subtle nods to the 1984 film - some of which husband had to explain to me in the car on the way home - with stars like Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver making cameo appearances.

But I do have some observations that I'd like to make about the whole experience, if I may.

We had to queue for nearly half an hour to buy our tickets.  This problem seemed to be caused because you buy tickets and food at the same counter - and everyone in front of us was purchasing a three-course meal, or so it seemed.  It would make more sense to have a separate line for each as the queues would then move much quicker. 

Also, Ghostbusters was rated as 12A.  I had to look up what a 12A rating means but according to Google:

"Films rated 12A are suitable for children aged 12 and over.  However, people younger than 12 may see a 12A as long as they are accompanied by an adult."

This resulted in the people in the row along from me bringing in their little girl (at a guess, about four years old) to see a film that really wasn't suitable for a child this young.  She was crying for most of the film because the ghosts in Ghostbusters really are quite scary.

This isn't the cinema's fault, but I feel that this rating needs clarifying by the BBFC as it is confusing and contradictory.  Thank goodness this wasn't the 3D version or she'd probably need therapy.

Friday, 5 August 2016

The end of an era...

Oh dear, this is a worrying development.  The last-ever VHS recorder is being produced in Japan.

OK, I appreciate that for people under 35 this means absolutely nothing.

But for those of us still own a library of videos - what was I supposed to do, replace them all with DVDs? I haven't won the lottery! - what on earth are we going to watch them on now?

Not that I often watch my graduation video, but it is on video cassette, somewhere, not sure where exactly at this precise moment.

We never taped our wedding ceremony, so that's not an issue.  Neither did we ever own a camcorder ourselves, so daughter's first steps etc are just committed to memory, not tape.

It's the end of an era, albeit an era that saw us having to fast forward through tapes to find the programmes we may or may not have recorded, and then rewind them while the machine whirred so violently you expected it to explode at any moment.

But at the time they came out they revolutionised our TV watching.  Because you could actually go out, and set the video, and then watch whatever vital programme you were going to miss (probably Neighbours in my case) on your return.

Programming it required a degree of skill, knowledge of the 24 hour clock, possibly some kind of scientific qualification, but still, you could, in theory, record something and keep it for posterity.

Or not, if you had sports mad Dad and brother like me who had a tendency to tape over things randomly with a vital football match, horse race, etc.

I had a video player until fairly recently when it decided to 'eat' Mrs Doubtfire.  As this is one of my favourite films, I invested in the DVD version.

VHS having a revival in the same way as vinyl seems fairly unlikely - although I did read that collectors are paying up to £1500 for rare horror films on this format.  Not sure my graduation video would qualify as that though!