The lost relics of an end-of-the-century childhood

May 20, 2014


It occurred to me this week, as I watched my toddler watch a video on-demand on a iPad when the programme she really wanted to see wasn’t on one of the huge selection of dedicated kid’s TV channels available, that there’s so much about her childhood that is different. Specifically, so much that’s different from my own childhood.

I know this is completely natural and happens each generation, but when I thought about it there were many things that sprang to mind that have changed, rebranded, died-out, or been rendered obsolete by technological advances.

And, as a result, there is so much that Eliza won’t have a clue about; things that will be as culturally relevant to her as a gramophone was to us growing up.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so these are a particular set of memories from a end-of-the-century childhood. Things that were so relevant at the time, but not any more. Total nostalgic indulgence – of course – but how many do you remember?

1) Waiting till 6pm to use the phone

2) Phones that had cords…

3) …and having to stretch the phone cord all the way into the other room (for fear that your mum might hear your highly confidential chat about who was snogging who, and what was in that week’s Just 17)

4) And on that note, Just 17, Mizz, Bliss, and More

5) Reading magazines and wanting desperately to go to this amazing sounding shop you’d never heard of; H&M

6) Only two hours of children’s TV in the evening, sandwiched in between gameshows and Neighbours

7) Apart from in the holidays of course, when you could watch Why Don’t You in the morning

8) And the big event that was Saturday morning TV

9) Ant and Dec as PJ and Duncan (and THAT episode with the paintball)

10) Edd the Duck, Wilson the Butler, all the presenting Andys, the Broom Cupboard, Gordon the Gopher, pre-silver fox Philip Schofield

11) Marathon and Opal Fruits

12) Computers that you couldn’t carry anywhere, that didn’t have the internet *shocker*

13) Super low-budget 80’s kids TV like Moondial, Dark Towers and Geordie Racer

14) Heather Shimmer, Dewberry, Fuzzy Peach

15) Not being able to text someone to tell them you were running late, not having a phone to look at if the person you were meeting was running late

16) Taping things from the TV onto giant video cassettes that you spent forever FF and RW to get to the right point

17) The hysterical horror of someone accidentally taping over your favourite tape

18) Taping the Top 40 off the radio onto a cassette tape, that you played on your very bulky Walkman with the big headphones, that always needed new AA batteries

19) The excitement of finding out what record was number 1 at 6.55 on a Sunday night

20) And it always being Bryan Adams who was at the top of the charts with ‘Everything I Do’ for approximately the entire decade

You know it’s true…x.


  • Mia

    May 20, 2014 at 7:24 am

    So true! 4 channels on the TV, then getting channel 5 (and subsequently realising it was crap). TV was analogue. Now it doesn’t broadcast on analogue waves. MENTAL.

    1. gillian

      June 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      YES! Seriously, what did we do with four channels? We were so excited about Channel 5, I can remember the Spice Girls opener. And it was so disappointing x.

  • Claire Diary of the Evans-Crittens

    May 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Such a great nostalgic post. It gave me goosebumps and maybe a few little tears to realise that someone living elsewhere went through every single same experience that I did! 🙂 Can’t believe we could only buy singles and albums from Woolies, I love how we all have a bigger influence into what gets into the charts nowadays. After recording the songs off the charts, if those lyrics didn’t happen to be in Smash hits then I would write and rewind and write down all the lyrics. The ages before Google! Thanks for reminding me! Claire x

    1. gillian

      June 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      I’d forogtten all about that! We used to hang out in Woolies looking at all the singles (and then have pick n’ mix). And yes, spend AGES doing the rewind thing to get the lyrics. Glad you liked xx

  • Circus Queen

    May 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Yep. I can nod to the sentiment of this. My cultural sign posts are different, though, because I didn’t grow up here. In fact, I grew up never imagining that I could wind up living anywhere that wasn’t Trinidad and Tobago. It’s so weird to think that my daughters are British and that their childhood is COMPLETELY different to mine!

  • fritha

    May 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I can relate to the phone ones and the recording the top 40 off the radio! That was so fun, I used to be so excited about that every sunday!! x

  • brummymummyof2

    May 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Argh! Moondial!!! I bloody loved that show. But was it scary? Why do I think it was scary. Oh the 90s how I miss you. Once I got a question answered on Going Live by Jason Donovan. Don’t be jel x

    1. gillian

      June 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      It WAS scary! I saw a clip on YouTube and it seemed terrifying (although slightly lower budget than I remembered). SO jealous on all accounts about your Going Live question. I bet you were a total celebrity at school! x

  • Eleanor (thebristolparent)

    May 20, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    some things that still make me laugh now if I look at them on YouTube – Round The Twist, anything with Trevor and Simon in it (Singing Corner, Don and Dougie Draper the dry cleaners), Wonky Donkey and the Pikachu song. And I was pretty far into my teens by that time.

  • Jess @ Along Came Cherry

    May 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    It is crazy how different our lives were to our kids growing up now! I can remember making three-way calls every night! And an Australian programme with a girl called Marmalade! And I used to love listening to the top ten on a sunday night, it was always when my dad was driving us back to my mums after the weekend! x

  • Swazi

    May 20, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    No. 14 – totally !!

    Yes I remember it all – mostly fondly…

    1. gillian

      June 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Yay! Glad it’s not just me 🙂 x

  • Polly

    May 20, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    blast from the past! I used to treasure my cassette tapes that I had, and my giant walkman!!

  • kate

    May 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    All of them. Totally! Making me realise that I am not actually 16 any more (more than twice that!) even though I still feel it… aaahhh nostalgia

  • Kelly

    May 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I remember the 80s and 90s I used to tape the top 40,also used record music videos from mtv lol,loved watching Saturday morning tv my favourite show was Sabrina the teenage witch.

  • Kerrie McGiveron

    May 20, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    These are all true and this was my childhood. Except me and my friend Rachel used to buy More magazine and laugh at all the rude words – it was properly shocking back then before the days of universal internet! x

  • laura redburn

    May 20, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    such a blast of nostalgia! haha, when we taped the top 40 we’d pretend to ‘dj’ before each song introducing it hahah. also, still call ‘starbursts’ opal fruits ..they’ll always be opal fruits.

  • Victoria

    May 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    This piece is amazing – bang on! It was a simpler time… I’d add:

    – having the phone no “081 811 8181” ingrained into your psyche (you’re singing it now, aren’t you)
    – thinking the presenters on the O-Zone were oh-so-cool and edgy
    – spending Saturdays doing the Woolies/Our Price/HMV holy trinity to find the cheapest place to buy your chosen CD single of the week (but having to buy more than one as every pop single seemed to be released in two part ‘collector edition’ formats)

  • Charlotte

    May 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Moondial! Weirdly, I was thinking of this just the other day. See also Dark Season

    Andy Crane was my first ever crush. I’m not sure if I should admit that.

  • Laura

    May 21, 2014 at 1:24 am

    This post really made me smile and think of my teenage years in South Africa – we used to get UK teen magazines about 6 months later than you (as well as movies and shows) I still remember being excited to pick them up.

    Laura x

  • The One-Handed Cook

    May 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I LOVE this post. Every single ‘lost relic’ rings true, and I’d even forgotten about not using the phone until after 6pm. Seems so quaint now. Oh, and I still call them Opal Fruits!

  • Globalmouse

    May 22, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    YES!!! And oh my god….waiting until 6pm to use the phone!!! I totally forgot about that!

  • PhotoPuddle

    May 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Nodded the whole way through this post. Love it!

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