Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper And Jelly Babies..

Here are the Beatles with very fetching moustaches and beard in 1967. The Liverpool lads had come a long way from the days of pudding basin haircuts and suits. A rumour doing the rounds courtesy of an advertisement which appeared in several children's comics in 1966, was that the lads were partial to jelly babies!

But in 1967 they seemed much more serious - I mean, kinda far out, man!

Farewell to the jelly babies, hello to the facial hair, geeky specs, kaftans and love beads!

Recently I found pages from a January 1968 magazine in my mother's attic. I don't know exactly what the publication was, but the pages featured an article about the Beatles, torn out and kept by my mother many years ago. This extract from the article may be of some interest to Beatles fans now...

The cover on a recent LP album called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a photomontage of a crowd gathered around a grave. And a curious crowd it is: Marilyn Monroe is there. So are Edgar Allan Poe, Lawrence of Arabia, Mae West, Sonny Liston and eight Beatles.

Eight? Well, four of them are wax dummies, models of the Beatles as most people remember them, with nicely brushed long hair, dark suits, faces like cheeky choirboys. The other four Beatles are very much alive: thin, hippie-loving, moustachioed, bedecked in bright, bizarre uniforms, their eyes glittering with a new awareness tinged with a hint of the old mischief. As for the grave in the foreground: it has BEATLES spelt out in flowers.

With characteristic self-mockery, the Beatles are proclaiming that they have snuffed out their old selves to make way for the new Beatles. And there is some truth to it.

Rich and secure enough today to go on repeating themselves - or to do nothing at all - they are instead creating some of the most original, expressive and musically interesting sounds being heard in pop music.

Serious musicians are marking the Beatles' work as a historic departure in the progress of music. Composer Ned Rorem claims that the Beatles' haunting composition "She's Leaving Home" - one of 12 songs in the Sgt. Pepper album - "is equal to any song that Schubert ever wrote." Conductor Leonard Bernstein's appreciation is just as high; he cites Schumann.

Like all good popular artists, the Beatles have a talent for distilling the moods of their time. Gilbert and Sullivan's frolics limned the pomposities of the Victorian British Empire; Cole Porter's urbanities were wonderful tonics for the '30's; Rodgers and Hammerstein's ballads reflected the sentiment and seriousness of the Second World War era. Today, the Beatles' cunning collages piece together scraps of tension between the generations, the loneliness of the dislocated '60s, and the bitter sweets of young love in any age. At the same time, their sensitivity to the absurd is sharper than ever.

The Beatles' early music had exuberance and an occasional oasis of unexpected harmony, but otherwise blended monotonously into the pop scene. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - the Beatles' big-hit single which has sold five million copies since 1963 - was a clichéd lyric set to an unimaginative tune. But the boys soon found their conventional sound and juvenile verses stultifying.

John Lennon, the group's chief lyricist, began tuning in on folk singer Bob Dylan. It wasn't Dylan's sullen anger that Lennon found appealing so much as the striving to "tell it like it is".

Gradually, the Beatles' work began to tell it too. Their 1965 song "Nowhere Man" ("Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to") asked, "Isn't he a bit like you and me?"

An even sharper departure from Big Beat banalities came as tune-smith Paul McCartney began exhibiting an unsuspected lyrical gift. In 1965, he crooned the loveliest of his ballads, "Yesterday,", to the accompaniment of a string octet - a novel and effective new genre, baroque-rock.

Still another form, raga-rock, had its origins after George Harrison fell for Indian music, studied with Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, and introduced a brief sitar motif on the 1965 recording "Norwegian Wood". Now everybody in pop music is experimenting with the sitar.

All the successes of the past two years were a foreshadowing of the Sgt. Pepper album, which more than anything else dramatises the brilliance of the new Beatles. In three months, it sold a staggering 2.5 million copies. Loosely strung together on a scheme that plays the younger and older generations off against each other, it sizzles with space-age electronic effects and sleight-of-hand lyrics. Above all, it proves that the Beatles have flowered as musicians.

Now that the Beatles' music is growing more complex and challenging, they are losing some younger fans. But the new Beatles have captivated a different and much more responsive audience. "Suddenly," says George Harrison, "we find that all the people who thought they were beyond the Beatles are fans." That includes not only students, but parents, professors, even business executives. Indeed, if the teenagers once made the Beatles plaster gods, many adults now make them pop prophets, and tend to theorise solemnly about their significance. One psychiatrist has said that the Beatles "are speaking in an existential way about the meaninglessness of reality."

Not so long ago the pop scene was going nowhere, becalmed in a doldrum of derivative mewing of Negro music by white singers. Then in the early 1960's the Beatles, together with other British groups, revitalised rock 'n' roll by closely imitating its Negro originators. As the Beatles moved on, sowing innovations of their own, they left flourishing fields for other groups to cultivate.

Of all the vital and imaginative groups, none has so far matched the distinctiveness and power of the Beatles. True, their flirtation with drugs and the drop-out attitude behind songs like "A Day in the Life" disturbed many fans, not to mention worried parents. But although all four Beatles have admitted taking LSD at least occasionally, Paul McCartney has said, "I don't recommend it. It can open a few doors, but it's not any answer. You get the answers yourself."

When the Beatles talk, millions listen - and callow as their ideas sometimes are, the Beatles exemplify a refreshing distrust for authority, disdain for conventions and impatience with hypocrisy. Young people sense a quality of defiant honesty and admire their freedom and open-mindedness; they see them as peers who are in a position, and who can be relied on to tell them what they want to hear...

Monday, March 16, 2009

November 1965: TV Comic - The Telegoons, Dr Who, Popeye And The Milky Bar Kid...

Front page star of this November 1965 issue of the popular TV Comic was Popeye. The spinach-scoffing sailor made his debut in his first ever comic strip in January 1929! There was nothing more exciting than the weekly comic... I had mine "put by" at the local newsagent's to ensure I didn't miss a single instalment of the continuing comic strips. TV Comic was published from 1951 to 1984.

The Telegoons were shortened and re-worked versions of the famous 1950s Goon Show radio scripts, featuring puppets. The show first appeared on the BBC in October 1963. Each episode was fifteen minutes long. In the comic strip pictured above, Neddie Seagoon is excited by a lower crested nit warbler.

The hugely popular children's sci-fi adventure Dr Who - still featuring the original Doctor, William Hartnell, in 1965, was a popular TV Comic comic strip.

The Milky Bar Kid ("The Milky Bars are on me!") first appeared on our telly screens in 1961 and was another popular TV Comic regular in 1965. I was surprised to find this comic strip - I thought advertising of this nature didn't happen until the 1980s!

I remember that Nestlé's was never known as Nestlé's by my family and friends here in England - always "Nestle's". It was circa the incredibly-swish-and-sophisticated late 1980s before the accent on the 'e' became known to me!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


The co-devisors of "Compact" - Hazel Adair...

... and Peter Ling - both far better known for the ATV soap opera "Crossroads", which debuted in November 1964. "Compact" told the story of a bunch of highly talented people, plus a gossipy secretary and her rather common boyfriend, who staffed a women's magazine. The show began on BBC 1 on 2 January 1962.

All at sea - the cast of "Compact" - including Carmen Silvera, later of "'Allo 'Allo" fame, who played cheroot smoking Camilla Hope, and, to the left, Sonia Fox, "Compact" secretary Susan Caley, later Sheila Harvey in "Crossroads". Another "Compact" actress who went on to greater fame elsewhere was Rachel Gurney, Celia Randall in "Compact", Lady Marjorie Bellamy in "Upstairs, Downstairs".

Good natured Anthea only took a job at "Compact", to establish her independence from her wealthy family. Here we see her being nice to shy Alan - played by Basil Moss, later Peter Tyson of BBC Radio 2's soap "Waggoners' Walk" (1969-1980). Of course, there were complications as Alan believed that Anthea was in love with him, as he was with her.

Oh dear.

Big noise Edmund Bruce rips up a copy of "Compact" as editor Mark Viccars looks on in absolute horror. Is this the end of the road for the magazine?

A "Compact" annual.

Another "Crossroads" link - Ronald Allen, right, was Ian Harmon in "Compact" and David Hunter at the motel. The woman in the cover picture is actress Monica Evans, Sally Henderson in the show. Secretary Sally found herself swept off her feet by suave boss man Ian. Marriage followed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Passe Partout Framing - Coming To A Sticky End...

A reel of Samuel Jones Butterfly Brand passe partout tape. Passe partout was becoming passé in the 1960s.

Samuel Jones, a company that had a factory in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, not far from my home town, made passe partout. It was a paper tape - used to frame pictures. The tape could be bought in reels and, once water was applied to the gummed side, would stick to a range of surfaces FOREVER!

Lordy, was it sticky!

For passe partout tape framing, one would select a picture, buy glass cut to measure, make a backing card for the picture, insert passe partout hanging rings into the reverse of the backing card, mount the picture on the front, place the glass over it and tape the whole lot together. There really was an art to passe partout - it could be terribly messy.

But, carefully done, passe partout frames could look pretty darned special. The tape came in a range of attractive finishes.

Passe partout was popular for many, many years, but was in decline by the 1960s. The reels pictured above date from around then. My gran used to get us children doing passe partout pictures on rainy days when we visited her in the 70s, and I last bought a reel of passe partout to frame a picture for my bedsit in 1986.

By then, with a wide range of cheap ready-made picture frames available, passe partout tape framing was really on its last legs. I'm told that the last reels were sold in the early 1990s.

A brand of tape is sold today which is sometimes referred to as "passe partout", but it is cloth, not paper, and bears no resemblance to the tape described here.

Above and below - front and back views of a passe partout picture framing kit box from the 1950s or '60s.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Groovy 60s - Abbey National becomes Fabby National, and a Cure for the Hippy Look...

How can you be "with it" without money? Good question! The "non-materialistic", peace and love hippie lifestyle seemed to require lots of bunce - you couldn't "drop out" without it!

Very good play on the word "hippie", and one of my favourite magazine ads - it dates from 1968. Did any readers ever try Limmits chocolate wafers way back then and, if so, did they help your calorie controlled diet?

If you've a Limmits tale to tell us, please go to "My Profile" for the e-mail address.

Cassettes - Join The Tape Revolution!

Before there were only vinyl records or spool-to-spool tapes, but now we had cassettes! A British magazine advertisement from 1968.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's All At The Co-op Now!

Crumbs! What a nosh-up!

The famous Co-op slogan and jingle originated in the 1960s (these ads are from 1968) and continued into the 1970s. Around the mid-70s, the slogan was changed to "Your Caring Sharing Co-op" and a new jingle arrived which wasn't half as much fun!

"It's All At The Co-op Now!", which was sometimes tweaked to "It's All At Your Co-op Now!", are both etched on my brain.

My head is simply full of old advertising jingles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s!

Decimalisation Looms - The New Coins Arrive...

December 1968...

Britain is being "converted". In a shake-up that will alter the language and affect the thinking of 55 million people, the country is deserting long familiar feet, pounds, rods, quarts and bushels - and going metric.

The change-over, which received official government support in May 1965, will take ten years to complete. The first major step to pave the way for later ordeals, is the switch to decimal currency, using a pound composed of 100 pence. New coins have been circulating since April [1968], heralding the approach of Decimal Day: February 15, 1971.

The Reader's Digest article makes for fascinating reading. I was surprised to learn that the now familiar new coins were designed in the 60s - I had formerly believed that only the fifty pence piece was.

The new coins are pictured in the two pages of the 1968 article featured above, with the exception of the ten new pence, which was pictured on an adjacent page, and the fifty new pence, which replaced the old Bank of England ten shillings note in 1969.

Here we see a July 1969 call from the Decimal Currency Board to shops and small businesses to ensure that the change-over of their cash registers and price-computing scales is on course.

Scotch With That Ten Foot Feeling...

Here's Melvyn Hayes starring in a magazine advertisement for Scotch whisky. 1968.

Mateus Rosé

A 1968 magazine ad for Mateus Rosé - essential for that 1960s party vibe!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Perishers: "A Million Housewives Every Day, Pick Up A Tin Of Beans And Say..."

The very first "Perishers" book - 1963. Below: Maisie faces the harsh realities of life in 1967.

According to the excellent Authentic Perishers site (link at end of this post), The Perishers newspaper comic strip began life in the Manchester edition of the Daily Mirror in February 1958 and was the idea of the cartoon editor, Bill Herbert. It was scripted by Ben Witham and drawn by Dennis Collins.

With the strip ailing, advertising artist/writer Maurice Dodd was brought in, replacing Ben Witham. The strip then thrived and, in October 1959, appeared in the national editions of the Daily Mirror.

Dennis Collins retired in 1983 and Maurice Dodd then produced The Perishers alone until 1992 when he went into partnership with illustrator Bill Mevin.

So, what was it all about?

The action revolved around a group of kids - go-cart building orphan Wellington; pushy May Queen wannabe Maisie; Maisie's nightmare of a brother, Baby Grumplin'; and moronic Marlon, the love of Maisie's life.

Wellington's dog, Boot, who believed that he was actually an 18th Century English nobleman, was also a major mover and shaker on The Perishers scene. Recurring characters included an Aldolf Hitler clone tortoise called Kilroy and a group of crabs in a rock pool, exalting over the annual appearance of "The Eyeballs In The Sky".

And then there was Tatty Oldbitt, the sailors' friend, and potty newshound BH (Calcutta) Failed. And what about Beryl Bogey (Urk! Urk! Urk!), Dirty McSquirty and those oddball insects?

The Perishers were quirky and fabulous.

I say "were" because, finally, in 2006, those "perishing kids" made their last appearance. I confess to shedding a few tears, 'cos I loved them very much. I always read the gang's latest exploits whilst I was having my breakfast and was rarely left un-amused. There were times when I'd still be having attacks of Perishers-induced giggles on the bus on the way to work - and it takes a lot to make me laugh before midday.

Two of the central purveyors of The Perishers - Maurice Dodd, who wrote the strip for almost fifty years, and Dennis Collins, who illustrated it for around 25 years, are no longer with us. Mr Dodd died in 2005 and Mr Collins in 1990.

In the strip above, which first appeared in 1967, Maisie, my favourite character, is discovering that real life isn't like the telly commercials!


A Million Housewives Every day

Pick Up a Tin of Beans and Say

Beanz Meanz Heinz!

The Authentic Perishers, THE site for The Perishers, is here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Barclaycard - "The New Kind of Money"...

Finding this advertisement for Barclaycard in a 1967 Readers Digest rather surprised me as the concept of "plastic money" had no real effect on me or my family until the mid-1980s.

It is worth taking a copy of the ad and enlarging it so that you can read the inset letter which contains such gems as:

Alright, you've been swamping me, for almost a year, with this fancy propaganda about how you 'make shopping simpler'.

So it would seem that the card had been around for almost a year by April 1967.


I was born in 1965, so don't remember 1967, but as a working class kid in the 1970s, I knew nobody who had a credit or debit card. In fact, round where I lived, not many people had bank accounts!

Every week, my step father would bring home his pay packet (he was paid in cash), put it on the kitchen table, and he and my mother would work out the finances for the week.

We knew about credit cards, they were advertised, but as a kid I never thought that I would have one. There was "Them" (those that did have them) and "Us" (those that did not have them) and the gulf seemed unbridgeable.

When I began work in the early 1980s, I, like my step father, was paid in cash and the whole of the office where I worked looked forward to Thursday when the pay packets were brought round.

Some years later, I changed employers and my new boss paid salaries directly into bank accounts. It was then that I opened an account and first met plastic money via a debit card.

I was considered very advanced and adventurous by most of my family.

And this was in the 1980s.

The 1960s were certainly ahead of their times on occasion!

1967: "Peace and Love? But Won't that Ruin the Carpet, Dear?"

The girl with the winklepickers and the panda eyes wants a groovy party. Mum wants to preserve her lounge carpet. How can both their interests be catered for?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lost In Space with Dr Smith and a Bubble Headed Booby...

Lost In Space was Dr Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris). The show began in the States in 1965 and was later shown in England.

Whether clashing with that "bubble headed booby" of a robot, or calming the space family Robinson with those tremendously comforting words, "Never fear, Smith is here!" the good doctor, who began as rather a sinister presence, soon became a classic comic character - fondly remembered to this day.

Miss Nugent gets an Eyeful!

The late Reg Smythe's famous creation Andy Capp made his debut in 1957 and is seen here in 1963, having his weekly dip in the tub in front of the telly. But who is "Miss Nugent"? You might know her better as Emily Bishop, wife of the late Ernest and long-time Coronation Street regular.

Miss Nugent was a shy spinister in the early 1960s - hence Florrie's concern!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Hippie Toaster...

This Morphy Richards toaster is decorated with influential designer Mary Quant's daisy motif.

Groovy, as the hippies might have said.

Twentieth Century Words by John Ayto (Oxford, 1999), informs us that the term hippie/hippy emerged in the early 1950s - "originally a low-profile synonym of hipster (1941) - i.e. someone who is 'hip' or in touch with fashionable tastes - hippie suddenly made it into the big time in the mid 1960s".

The hippies, of course, preached Peace and Love.

Many hippies took mind expanding drugs.

Hippies were usually middle class at the very least - the working classes could not afford to "drop out".

Most hippies protested against war.

Most hippies wore weird clothes.

Many hippies liked to go to rock concerts in muddy fields.

Many hippies wore ethnic clothes.

Hippies were often into religion - but usually not Church of England or anything else their parents were into.

Some hippies liked to be hairy.

Most hippies loved bell bottoms and flared trousers.

Many hippies were very promiscuous.

Just about every hippie believed in the freedom of the individual.

Many hippies were incredibly earnest.

Nowadays some members of the hippie generation decry every generation that has followed, giving them labels such as "Generation X" and accusing them of being boring, conservative copyists. Many seem to believe that their generation invented youthful idealism.

Maybe the hippie generation could do with a refresher course in Peace and Love?

In the meantime, how about a nice slice of toast from a Mary Quant toaster to be going on with? Wholemeal, of course...

Women's Lib...

Gender issues were high on the agenda in the 1960s. Or perhaps that should be "Women's Issues" as the general perception of the time was that women were very much the underdogs and men had always been able to do exactly what they wanted (actually, as a kid and a teenager, I fought a battle royal with my mother who tried to force me into conforming to what I regarded as stereotypical "male" behaviour, but that's another story!).

The 60s saw the emergence of the Women's Liberation Movement, or Women's Lib, and (above) we see signs of its growing success in a newspaper ad from 1969.

1969 again: as traditionally male careers were opening up to women, so the new freedom began to spread to men, see the ad above - "More and more men are joining the nursing profession".

In the 1980s, there briefly emerged a new species - the "
Eighties Man" or "New Man". But this was later overshadowed by the emergence of the 1990s New Lad.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Johnnie and Fanny Cradock...

A 1967 advertisement for Phillips, featuring Fanny and Johnnie.

Rising to fame in shows like Kitchen Magic in the 1950s, TV cooks Fanny and Johnnie Cradock reigned supreme in the 1960s. Fanny was the most formidable woman to ever not don an apron (she didn’t need one) and commented: “I’m no Women’s Libber, I wouldn’t be such a clot!” She didn’t need to be a Women’s Libber. Fanny ate adversaries, male or female, for breakfast!

To watch Fanny and monocled husband Johnnie was to watch a great double act. He played the silly dodderer, she the domineering doyen of the kitchen, and they were compulsive viewing.

Fanny's food was exciting - including such bizarre offerings as blue eggs, and she helped dissolve the mood of post war austerity in the 50s with her lovely (often) French fare. Like many cooks of the time, Fanny believed that French cuisine was it.

But she also dealt with other things. The earliest reference I have yet found to prawn cocktail was in a 1962 episode of Coronation Street, when posh Annie Walker mentioned it. In 1967, Fanny Cradock wrote:

One of the most sordid little offerings is the ubiquitous Prawn Cocktail with a good old ground padding of lettuce cut with a knife and darkening at the edges, a tired prawn drooping disconsolately over the edge of the glass like a debutante at the end of her first ball and its opposite number - a piece of lemon tasting of the knife - clutching the opposite side of the rim like a seasick passenger against a taffrail during a rough Channel crossing. This kind of presentation almost certainly confirms that the mayonnaise will be that bottled stuff, further sharpened by bottled tomato sauce…

Fanny proceeded to give her own super-dupah Prawn Cocktail recipe. Little old me, being lower working class, did not even glimpse a Prawn Cocktail until the 1980s. And then it was the bog standard version - complete with bottled tomato sauce.

And I loved it - wolfed it down. Philistine!

Oh well...

Fanny marched through the 1960s, making numerous television series and writing several books. She entered the 70s as she had entered the 60s - as TV Cook Supreme. But then she came unstuck...

More here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Brief History of the Lava Lamp...

The history of the lava lamp began in a pub in Hampshire, England, with a very unusual egg timer.

In the 1940s, one Edward Craven-Walker walked into the aforementioned pub and saw a strikingly odd object on the counter behind the bar. It was a glass cocktail shaker containing some kind of mucus-like blob floating in liquid. Mr Craven-Walker made enquiries, and was told by the barman that the device was an egg timer. The 'blob' was actually a clump of solid wax in clear liquid.

How did this “time” your egg, wondered Mr Craven-Walker? The barman elaborated:

“You put the shaker in the boiling water with your egg, and as the boiling water cooks the egg it also melts the wax turning it into an amorphous blob of goo.”

When the wax floated to the top of the jar, the egg was done. Mr Craven-Walker was very impressed by what he saw and he began to wonder - could he turn the egg timer into a lamp with thicker oil that would form sculptural shapes? Would this be a viable commercial product?

The inventor of the blobby egg timer, somebody called Dunnet, was deceased, so Craven-Walker was able to patent the invention for himself. The Astro/Lava Lamp was finally released in 1963. Craven-Walker had spent fifteen years perfecting the design.

In the hippy-trippy Summer of Love in 1967, the lamp gained great popularity - mainly with trendies and people experimenting with mind-expanding drugs.

In the early 1970s, the lamp became deeply naff. It was seen on the serving hatch at Stan and Hilda Ogden’s in Coronation Street - a sure sign of its complete and utter non-trendiness, and then Mildred Roper acquired one in George & Mildred.

Oh dear! My mother, middle aged and with absolutely lousy taste, bought one and we spent the evenings trying to avoid looking at something that resembled a blob of orange liver in yellow bile floating up and down.

At our local pub, which was all plastic beaten copper tables and “genuine” olde Englishe horse brasses, a lava lamp suddenly appeared. Frumpy Nellie and Fred, the mine hosts, were thrilled with the thing and became a bit of a laughing stock amongst right-minded regulars.

Finally, the lava lamp’s fascination for (a minority of) 30 and 40-somethings evaporated, and by 1980 they were just about dead and gone.

C. 1988, the awful blobby shapes associated with lava lamps appeared in a couple of pop videos. The new drug culture of the Acid House/Rave era seemed happy to embrace a couple of icons from the original Summer of Love. The lava lamp was one, the Smiley Face was another. Not that 1988 seemed like a second Summer of Love to me. It was faster and more streetwise - “Right on one, matey!” but, as we moved into the 1990s, 1960s trends became more and more “in” and lava lamp sales boomed.

Apparently more lava lamps were sold in the 1990s than in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s combined.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Coronation Street Jigsaw Puzzle - Ena at Bay!

One of a series of jigsaw puzzles from c. 1963 featuring characters from Coronation Street. Note the street featured on the box, which is actually Archie Street, Ordsall - the original template for the Coronation Street architecture. English folklore has been greatly enriched by the addition of television soap opera characters like fearsome old dragon Ena Sharples and the glamorous and fiery Elsie Tanner.

The Street began on 9/12/1960, the creation of one Tony Warren, and continues to entertain a mass audience to this day.

The characters featured in this jigsaw have long departed. Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) left in 1980, and moved to Lytham St Anne's; Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol) died in the snug of the Rovers Return in 1964; Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) left to keep house for an old friend in 1976; Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) left in 1984 to live in Portugal with an old flame; and Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) died in a car crash in 1983.

Archie Street was demolished in 1971. More about that

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Boom Boom Boom Boom - Esso Blue!

This newspaper advertisement dates from November 1960. Joe, the Esso Blue Dealer was a great little creation, introduced in 1958.

I fondly recall the TV ad jingle - "Boom Boom Boom Boom - Esso Blue!" In the first ad, the dealer is seen answering the phone to a number of people wanting to speak to "Joe". The dealer replies that he's not Joe, he's the Esso Blue Dealer. 
At one point, a very sexy-sounding woman phones asking, of course, for Joe. Our dealer pal becomes tongue-tied, replying that he is the "Esso Blee Dooler". Joe himself then phones asking if there have been any calls for him. 

We later learned that the dealer was also called Joe.

According to legend, the "Esso Blee Dooler" line came about because the voice-over actor was late arriving at the recording session for a late 1950s ad at Dorland Advertising Ltd. Dorland executive Tony Solomon stepped forward, eager to get the sound balance right, and said: "Let me have a go at it." He then said "I'm your Esso Blee Dooler" instead of "Esso Blue Dealer", which caused great amusement amongst the staff looking on, and the "blooper" (as the Americans would have it) was scripted into the ad. 

The ad's jingle is etched on my mind. I first heard it as a tiny, tiny tot in the mid-to-late 1960s and the ads went on until some point in the 1970s (post-1973, but I don't have an exact year), when the Esso Blue Dealer sadly took his leave.

I wonder what he's doing now? 

I wonder if he still gets tongue-tied? 

I wonder if I should see a doctor?

A late 1960s Esso Blue badge.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yeast-Vite Pick-Me-Up...

Here's a 1960s packet of Yeast-Vite.

These little pick-me-up pills were highly popular right from the time of their debut around the 1920s. My grandmother swore by them, and was never without a packet in her handbag.

Yeast-Vite is still available today.

Friday, October 13, 2006

1969: David Bowie and The Stylophone...

The Dubreq Stylophone, a miniature electronic musical instrument, invented in 1967 by one Brian Jarvis, consisted of a metal keyboard that was played by touching it with a stylus.

David Bowie used a Stylophone on his 1969 hit Space Oddity and Rolf Harris advertised them.

How exciting! A great deal of fuss has been made of the Stylophone on 1970s nostalgia shows and websites (70s? It was actually first available in the 60s!) but that, in my opinion, simply shows desperation to glitz the 70s up.

The only person I ever knew that owned a stylophone was my dear old gran, who had just got rid of her piano to make more space.

Sadly, she found the Stylophone no substitute.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

1968 And 1969: The Space Hopper In Britain...

From Mettoy - Our wonderful orange friend...

Here is an ad for toys, including the space hopper (or SPACEHOPPER, as it is written in the ad!) from the Cambridge Evening News, England, 1969. Click on the illustration for a closer look...

Due to a faintly tedious tendency to hype the 1970s, both the BBC's "I Love 1970s" website and the Toy Retailers website state that the hopper arrived in Britain in 1971. However, the advertisement you are looking at is real, dates from 1969, and describes the Hopper as a "trend"...

For doubting Thomases, here is the date of the ad - 14 November, 1969, and I would be happy to provide photocopies of the entire newspaper to anybody who cares to examine the matter further - simply go to my profile for the e-mail address.

This British Toy Fair brochure from January 1969 features the space hopper, too (see page illustration on the right).

The Miller's Guide Collecting The 1960s by Madeleine Marsh also lists the space hopper as a late 1960s item.

As early as 1967 something called the "bouncing egg", a space hopper-type toy, was at toy fairs in England. The Science and Society galleries contain an excellent picture from April 1967 (featured above), labelled "12 year old Matthew Redmond entertaining people on Stockport Road with his ‘Bouncing Egg’ from the toy fair".

Copyright SSPL/Manchester Daily Express - not to be reproduced without permission.

The space hopper as we know it today, complete with its distinctive face, came into being around 1968. In January 1969 the modern space hopper was at Brighton Toy Fair in England, and then in toyshops. See illustration below for a round-up of the hopper state-of-play in England and the USA in 1969.

Hopping mad in 1969... the Space Hopper, complete with its highly distinctive face is in England, UK; the Hoppity Hop and Ride-A-Roo are rampant in the Christmas 1969 Sears and Montgomery Wards mail order catalogues in America.

If you are interested in pop culture, check out your local newspaper archive (I found the 1969 space hopper ad in mine). Advertisements for clothes and toys and articles on fads and fashions provide valuable pointers as to what was "hot and what was not" way back then.

Do not, under any circumstances, take the word of the BBC's I Love 1970s, I Love 1980s, or I Love 1990s sites or TV programmes. The BBC's tendency to hype the 1970s ruined the I Love... venture and has infected other sites, like the Toy Retailers.
A few years ago, the Toy Retailers site was listing klackers (or klick-klacks) as the "undoubted" toy craze of 1971 - which I'm pretty sure is correct.

In the wake of I Love The 1970s, the Toy Retailers 1971 on-line information was altered to declare the space hopper "Craze Of The Year" - which is completely untrue as the Toy Retailers Association has NEVER made a "Craze of The Year" award and, besides that fact, the space hopper, although still quite popular, was old news by then!

The Hopper was fun, and threw up a lovely echo as I bounced down the path at the side of my gran's house...

Happy days!