Fads and Fashions Of The 70s

Hold on tight and prepare to relive some of the quirky fads that kept us entertained throughout the decades (best keep a sick bag handy just in case - only kidding !)

The Trimfonetrimfone

Brrrrrpppp, Brrrrpppp.....Brrrppp,Brrrppp....... OK, so it loses a bit in translation, but that's what the trimphone sounded like. Before the privatisation of the British telephone system, the GPO as it was then known would only allow subscribers to rent telephones from them. The standard bulky ringer phones were fine for Mr & Mrs Average, but if you wanted a cool looking accessory for your batchelor pad, you shelled out and got one of these little beauties ! Well, all the smart dudes like Jason King had them on their coffee tables. Even the live ATV quiz The Golden Shot would show host Bob Monkhouse talking to contestants on a golden trimphone - I wonder if they got the GPO's permission to paint it ?

Always a bit of a late starter, I didn't subscribe to the phone service until 1981. So when the GPO Linesman offered me a chance to be a snob and pay the 10 pence extra per quarter, I jumped at the chance to have my own two-tone trimphone. However, visitors to the house were not impressed, associating it with Bob Monkhouse as opposed to Jason King. Yes I do remember The Golden Shot...... Invariably, older relatives could not get used to it's anarchic design and I would often return to the hallway to find the handset had been replaced cross ways, the loud howling tone wailing away in the speaker, the tone the GPO used to pass down the phone if you were naughty and left it off the hook. Also, there was a gang of birds around at the time who would delight in perching on my window sill at 5 am and doing an uncanny impersonation of a ringing trimphone - bastards !

Party Sevens

party 7Whether you were a 70's Party Organiser or a 70's Party Animal, your "do" wasn't complete without a few Party Sevens or Party Cans.

They were giant beer cans that held near enough a gallon of beer or lager.

The demise of the British Engineering Industry and the lack of new Engineering Apprentices has resulted in a whole new generation of young people unable to grasp the technicalities of opening a Party Can. The main skill involved piercing a hole in the can to pour the booze out of and finding the exact spot, 180 degrees further round the circumference to place the second hole to aid flow. (Remember that by the end of the night, the host's aiming accuracy will have been greatly impaired dependent on how many Party Sevens they have previously consumed).

Any Behavioural Psychology or Social Science/Anthropology students who have been asked to write a dissitation on the Party Can could gain a great amount of knowledge studying the habits of the consumer:-

1 The "I've Just Been On a Package Holiday To Benidorm" Guy -Will be holding the can at arms length and directing the jet of lager at his mouth from a distance. (Make sure you've plenty of kitchen tissue rolls handy).

2 Frustrated Circus Performer - Attempts to juggle bottles of Jubilee Stout whilst using two Party Sevens as makeshift stilts.

3 Technophobe - completely baffled by the above mentioned opening process. Likely to remain thirsty or go onto lemonade for the rest of the night.

4 Alcoholic Technophobe - Completely baffled, but will attempt to open Party Seven with teeth.

5 Aggressive Defender - has claimed a Party Seven for his own use and will fight anyone who challenges him for a glass full.

6 Eco Warrior - Insists on taking home the empty Party Sevens to put in the recycling bin.

7 Blue Peter Presenter Wannabee - Insists on taking home the empty Party Cans to make stylish wastebins or makeshift executive desk tidys.

Furry Dicedice

Such is the popularity of this feature, I have started to receive requests...well, one so far, but it's a start ! So, feel free to drop me a note with suggestions for future fads, but beware - you lay yourself open to Michael Extraction, even though I followed all the fads myself but am trying to kid you that I didn't : )

Seriously, I have never owned a pair of furry dice. There is nothing dangling from my rear view mirror apart from a lone cobweb. Anyone who has ever had a lift from me will tell you this is more a case of the need for good visability to avoid innocent pedestrians and road cones rather than snobbery.

Label or categorise furry dice owners ?...moi ? Let me just say that the following questionnaire will reveal all as it originates from a genuine official source...probably :-

Furry Dice Owner Survey

Name (Please Tick Appropriate)

Male:- Wayne_____ Stevo______ Gaz _____ Craig_____

Female:- Trace_____ Shaz____ Debs____

Model Of Cortina:- G___ GL___ GLX____

Other Make:- Mk1 Escort____ Vauxhall Viva _____ Bond Bug _____

Number of Go Faster Stripes _____ Number of Fake Rally Spotlights______

Please circle which sticker you have in the back window:-

"My Other Car Is A Porche", "Passion Waggon, Don't Laugh your Daughter's Inside",

"Save Gas, Fart In A Jar", "Windsurfers Do It Standing Up"

Male :- What do you look for in a woman ?

A caring independent individual who will be your lifetime soulmate____ A blonde with a high sex drive who lives above an off-licence/liquor store_____ A woman who doesn't mind searching for the spanner whilst you fit a Weber carb to your Cortina____

Female:- What do you look for in a man ?

A caring independent individual who will be your lifetime soulmate____ A man with a big medallion___ Someone who apologises after breaking wind, instead of just laughing and holding your head under the bedclothes____

Please indicate which of the following you have in your home:-

A Merry Monk___ A working plastic model of Mannequin Pis___ A wooden donkey which dispenses a cigarette from it's rear when you lift the tail___ A Bay City Rollers fridge magnet ___ Fruit fridge magnets____Any fridge magnet____ A large painting of a nude couple and a swan by the seashore___ A sparklets soda syphon____

Describe the contents of your front garden, ie:- number of old matresses, scrap cars with wheels missing etc. 

Curly Perms keegan

Oh dear. In 1978, just as hair was getting shorter, punk/new wave fashion had taken over from the baggy trousers with 8 inch waistbands and platform shoes were back on Do Not Bring Out Until The Mid 90s shelf, the Anonymous Saint Of Glam inflicted it's last joke on the world - curly perms for blokes !

Of course, curly hair looked great on those with natural curly hair, but what were some of us thinking of, eh ?

They were quite controversial at the time, but soon the hardest guys from the hardest inner cities of Yorkshire would soon be off to the barbers shop for a perm before nipping along to the Batley Variety Club to boogie to the Bee Gees.

The strangest thing associated by this short lived craze is that NOBODY will admit to having had a curly perm, apart from England football manager Kevin Keegan who's perm was in place on his venture into pop music in the late 70s with Head Over Heels... is well documented.

Real Ale

OK, so it's taken as read these days that all the good pubs have handpumps on the bar, but any member of the Campaign For Real Ale will tell you that you had a fight on your hands to find anything but the gassy carbon-dioxide enhanced stuff until the 80s.

Northern Britain led the way on this, with all but the dodgiest bars offering a good selection of cloudy beers (that's how it should be you know) the head of which still laced the sides of the glass an hour after drinking. It was indeed an eye opener when in 1981, as a naive eighteen year old, I took my first trip to London and found handpumps were as rare as rocking horse waste. To make matters worse, I made the mistake of asking for a bag of crisps with a pint. I learned the hard way that Southerners don't like taking solids with meals !

Some of us even attempted brewing our own and the GlamGuru's own Exhibition Bitter, (3 pints and you make an exhibition of yourself) was always popular at parties. Many people threw it up to the sound of Duran Duran and Toni Basil. (And if the girl with the Rah-Rah skirt at the party in April 1982 is reading, please accept my apologies and I hope you got the stains off OK).

Of course, the essential fashion accessory of the 80s Yorkshire teenager who knew that beer wasn't just for breakfast, was a coat full of protest badges. Those of us who were running out of space for alemore badges welcomed the dual purpose ones that covered two campaigns, as the picture below from the GlamGuru's own collection shows.

GlamGuru (Strictly a glass of two of wine only these days !)


Space Invaders invaders

Somethings never change. I'm hopeless at computer games now and I have always been. Tele-tennis or the latest PC game, it makes no difference. I avoid them all.

Space Invaders was different. Back in 1981, all the pubs had a Space Invaders machine and I would invaribly head over to one after a few pints and get zapped by aliens. I think it must have been used as a guage to determine my level of intoxication as I wouldn't normally have dreamt of feeding coins into a machine when sober !


British Cars of the 70s ?

OK, so you're no doubt familiar with the old cliche about feeling older when policemen start to look younger. But what about the 90s selection of cars ? Can you tell a Ford Probe from a Mondeo ? Can you even distinguish them from a Rover ?

It seem so different from the 70s when an Austin A40 looked like an A40 and a Hillman Hunter looked like, well ... a Hillman Hunter !

Remember the Cortina when the Mark III brought a sporty look to the family wheels, only to return to the "wife and two kids" look by 1979 on release of the Mark IV. The demise of the Mark III was bad news to the makers of furry dice, although the model did get the recognition it deserved taking a lead role as DCI Gene Hunt's motor in the TV series Life On Mars.

How many of us liked the look of the Austin Allegro saloon but had reservations about the estate version (let's face it, it looked like a sporty hearse, didn't it ??)



What about the foreign cars that disappeared into auto-oblivion after the close of the decade ? Own up - who had a Simca, or a Daf ? The flash medallion wearers amongst us may even have owned a Jensen Interceptor (not easy to get spares for at the local scrap joint). Then there was that solid German workhorse the Wartburg. Not noted for its' street credibility, it did save a guy I know from a hoard of drunken nightclub revellers who thought it would be a good idea to overturn the car whilst the occupant was sat minding his own business in the driving seat. Three of them gave up afeter five minutes leaving the remaining agressor clutching at his groin mumbling something about a hernia !

Despite owning something with electric windows these days, I still wonder what became of the orange Austin 1100 with the registration plate ERN 1E that looked so cool in the seafront at Morecambe in the early 70s.

ispyI-Spy Books

They stirred the inquiring mind of the 70's child, they were educational, they were very cheap.

I Spy books were the first examples of the self help & self education culture....probably. (Well it sounded good when I wrote it !). They didn't really tell you much about the subject the book covered, but the clues were there to find out yourself.

Points were awarded for each question and section completed in such I Spy Books as I Spy Car Number Plates, I Spy British Birds, I Spy Old Architecture etc. Realism didnt come into the I Spy series that often, so I Spy Good Places To Play Truant, I Spy My Big Brother's Collection of Porny Mags and I Spy Shops That Will Sell Us Ten Benson and Hedges were, to my knowledge never produced.

The excitement didn't stop there, oh no ! Once you had completed the book, you were able to post it off to Big Chief I Spy who would award you a certificate of achievment. Despite gaining several, they sadly did not get me into a reputable university to study Politics or Nuclear Physics,(though the Peace Studies lecturer was quite impressed !


Coloured Vinyl vinyl

1978 was a good or bad year for record collectors depending on how you viewed it ! No more boring black vinyl singles in plain white covers. Surely any single released this year wasn't even worth listening to if it wasn't on COLOURED VINYL !

The first specimen in my collection was a clear vinyl version of Foreigner's Cold As Ice - clear, just like ice..geddit ? I also remember buying The Dickies version of the theme to the popular 70's children's TV show Banana Splits in yellow. Not sure what happened to Cold As Ice, but I hesitate to say that The Dickies effort was eventally melted down to use as a plant pot !

Ones I missed included Alan Price's Just For You , in bright red and heart shaped and It Take's Two To Tango by Richard Myhill, black but myhillsquare - the hi-fi buffs who slept with their turntables had a hard time in 1978 !

Then coloured vinyl ceased to be fashionable and purist record collectors who just had to collect every version of the same single would have to wait some five or six years for the arrival of Frankie Goes To Hollywood to relieve their frustration.

Rude Novelties

Oeerrr Missus. Now this is a family page so I'm not going to dwell on monkthis subject in too much detail ! You've got to have been there at the time. Who remembers those delightful little novelties that friends and relatives brought back from holidays which you dare not exhibit. The working model of Mannekin Pis ? The Merry Monk (press his head down and see why he was merry !) ? The donkey which used to excrete cigarettes when its' tail was lifted ?

My relatives from Germany would often bring back the most sauciest examples including whiskey glasses that looked perfectly normal until they were filled with liquid where a naked figure would appear. They also brought over some very useful notepaper with an entwined naked couple in the act bearing the emblem Things To Do Today at the top of each page !

Then there were those items of questionable taste masquerading as, well, items not of questionable taste. Who knows someone with that famous painting of a naked couple and a swan by the beach ? Shall we tell them, or go down the cowardly road and tell them we'd love something like that on our wall (but that's not a hint !!) ?????


Music Centres

In these days of small, slick hi-fi products in fashionable black, it's hard to remember the days when teak was "in". To those of us who survived the late 60s and early 70s with a mono Dansette record player or an old radiogram which was basically a sideboard that someone bunged a radio and turntable into, the music centre was sheer luxury, if not due to the fact you could move the speakers to acheive the stereo effect instead of having to sit within two feet of the radiogram.

Perhaps its most important feature was the built in cassette deck, allowing the owner to record directly from the radio or turntable, eliminating the old microphone-to-speaker recording technique which would always faithfully reproduce the background noise, traffic, family members singing along etc, before the main source.

There were differing operational procedures for the music centre which sorted out the hi-fi experts from the unfashionable who often gave the game away by refering to the gramophone : ). So to be cool, the following were essential guidelines:-

DON'T: - Play records with the clear plastic cover down. Despite it actually preventing dust falling on the vinyl, it just doesn't look cool.

DON'T:- Use the autochanger spindle. Use the short one that requires you to get out of your chair every few minutes to change the side. This shouldn't matter - what are you doing playing singles on it anyway ? Next thing you'll be playing 78s. Tsk !

DO:- Speak authoritively about your diamond stylus and hope that a real hi-fi buff doesn't visit and ask you if it's got a belt drive or if you've got woofers and tweeters in your speakers.

The music centre can still be found in some second hand stores and car boot sales. Maybe they will experience a revival - just try to find a system with a turntable in the current shops !



Those of us that reside in the UK may remember the days before privatisation of the British telephone system, when it was attached to the mail system and known as the GPO, or Post Office Telephones. In the days before the commercial information services such as astological prediction lines and the "Sexy Sandra" type phone lines, the GPO provided a small selection of subscriber info services.

For those that found the speaking clock and weather line a little boring, pop fans of the day could dial 16 and listen to Dial-a-Disc. I can't recall whether they changed the song daily or weekly, but whatever - the same disc would be repeated all day and it was left to a GPO operator to make the recorded announcement between plays. Annie Nightingale and Tony Blackburn the operators weren't, but it provided an additional source of music, probably exclusively to those people at work sneaking a free call or two at their employer's expense !

Privatisation in the mid 80s would result in a more commercial approach with a kind of hip top 10 programme linked by a DJ. It underwent a name change too, although to something instantly forgetable


Pop Cover Version LP's


Although the market of today is awash with compilation albums,
the Now That's What I Call Music 27's and the Dance Heat - The
Second Fire
types were in short supply in the early 1970's. For
the 70's youngster (or the just-generally-tight-with-money person) an alternative to the compilation albums existed in the form of budget LP's with recent hits covered by session artists.

No 90's style arty-farty advertising concepts were employed by the record companies back in the 70's, the marketing bods going with album titles such as Top Of The Pops and Hit Parade.

Some of the tracks were almost indistinguishable from the original, not surprising as quality session musicians would often do the job well. Elton John also reputably performed as a ghost
singer on some of the tracks in the early days of the albums.

However, high quality material wasn't universal as the version I once heard of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, covered by a female vocalist with a range about five octaves below Kate's,
goes to prove.

Most of my early anatomy/biology education was delivered courtesy of the front cover of these albums. I was 18 before I discovered that not every woman wears hot pants !

Space Hoppers


As a kid, I never owned a space hopper and I must admit I never harboured a desire for one. It's only now that this huge rubber satsuma has started to intrigue me. For a start, how did they inflate ? Did they inflate, or did you have to carry them out of the toy shop and stick it on the back seat of the Hillman Avenger with it's evil smile aimed at the drivers behind ? Did they ever go bang ? When the kids grew up and lost interest in them in favour of Les from the Bay City Rollers, how were they disposed of in an enviromentally friendly way ? Would the dustbin men take them without asking for a tip ? How come that kids could bounce up and down the avenue in them, yet all I could manage was a few minutes worth of bouncing on the spot ?

8 Track Cartridge Players

These continuous loops of tape enclosed in plastic which were seen in any Ford Cortina that was a... er...Ford Cortina did not die when car cassette players became popular, ooo no !

Who cares that you could only fast forward the 8 track cartridge at double speed if you had a really posh player, or the fact that it would often change channels and play a different song if your car went over a bump in the road - they looked good. Seeing a nice selection of cart goodies in the motorway service cafe is something I miss and I remember looking enviously at the mains version of the player/recorder in the teak cabinet at the home of a neighbour. Of course, real cool dudes had the space age chic style player.

Anyway, you may not be able to find anything more than the odd James Last or Bert Kempfaert 8 track in the second hand shops of Britain, but elsewhere cartridge addicts keep the 8 track state of mind alive. If you feel like a trip down 70s 8 Track memory lane, stop off at 8 Track Heaven today !


The Stylophone

David Bowie may have used this instrument for one note on Space Oddity and Chicory Tip sounded like they had the mains powered deluxe model on some of their hits, but this forerunner to home keyboards didn't last too long, despite celebrity endorsement from Rolf Harris.

On the introductory record that came with your stylophone, Rolf introduced you to it's many sounds (Normal & Vibrato) and to a stylophone orchestra that had formed and produced a catchy, up- tempo version of A Whiter Shade of Pale.

The idea was to introduce kids to music. The reality, in my case, was that after a while you got bored with reading the "How to Learn Scales" and began experimenting with switching the power off and on between notes or placing the pen half way down your tongue and touching the keyboard with the tip of your tongue to make noises which resembled a duck breaking wind.


Power Cuts

Our friends overseas will be stumped with this one, but those of us from the UK remember them, don't we ?

OK, it wasn't a fad as such. In the early 70s, Britain was not having the best of times. Without getting into politics and the rights and wrongs of the situation, basically there was quite a bit of disillusionment in the country. The economic crisis led to a three day working week and as a result, domestic electricity supplies would cut off without warning.

Candle shops had a boom time and I'm sure the owners would have all bought their own Rolls Royce Silver Clouds - if they could find any petrol station that wasn't operating a rationing system.

As a nine year old in 1972, I began to resent being unable to watch TV and I hated the smell of candle wax, though I did devise interesting games to keep myself amused like "Going to Bed Early", "Watching the Neighbours' Candles Flickering In The Window" and "Counting How Much Airplay Chicory Tip Gets On The Radio" and "Trying to Decipher The Meaning Behind T-Rex's Telegram Sam".

It didn't last too long and we would have to wait until 1978/9 for something similar in the form of the famous Winter Of Discontent. For the school kids of the time, this translated as "How come everyone is on strike except the teachers ?".

Soda Syphons


The past few years have seen an increase of interest in 60s/70s instrumental music - I believe it's called Elevator Music in the States. It has been another string to the record companies bow as they revive old tracks and release them under the hip term Loungecore.

So what has this got to do with the soda syphon ? Well, the Loungecore CD covers usually feature a Jason King lookalike serving a cocktail to some young model type in a bathchelor pad complete with lava lamp and brightly coloured soda syphon.

The idea was to fit a tiny Co2 capsule in the top and fizzy water would squirt out at high pressure into your spirit glass.

Am I the only one who has never seen one in everyday use ? Granted, the soda syphon's contribution to 60s and 70s comedy is unquestionable as Goldie Hawn clones would always end up being on the receiving end of a squirt down the front of their blouses (how politically correct we all were in those days, eh ?). The children's version would see Flegal, Bingo or whatever his name was (you know, the dog with the fireman's hat) from Banana Splits chasing everyone around the room, soda syphon primed, like some mad serial practical joker.

Could it be that they were created exclusively for situation comedies or Brian Rix stage farces, or has the fact that I and most of the people I associate with wouldn't dream of diluting good whiskey (or bad whiskey come to that) with water, sparkling or otherwise ?

Tip:- If you ever hear rumours of a soda syphon revival, let me know and I'll go round all the Sunday morning car boot sales and buy them up - there's one on every stall !


Super 8mm Films

It seems nearly everyone these days owns a video camcorder, but I wonder how many of the current owners remember the days of Super 8 film - or Home Movie Making ?8mm film became popular in the 60s in it's varying formats, but by the 70s, quite a number of people were won over by the simplicity of Super 8mm. No swapping film reels over anymore, now film making could be as simple as popping a sealed cartridge into your cine camera and pressing the start button.On a good day, with the wind blowing in the right direction, a good 4 minutes worth of film could be shot with one cartridge. Sound ? You must be joking John ! That's the whole point of Super 8. Moving pictures and your own imagination and commentary as you playback the film on your projector and shout the description of exactly what Little Johnnie is doing above the noise of the projector's motor. Actually, there were cameras with sound available, but that was just for the smart a***s ! (OK, bitterness creeping in here - I could only afford a silent camera !).Some of us were not content to have our creativity stifled by filming family events and moved into production of real movies (never call them HOME moves !!) which could be anything from "The Day The Earth Shook" (and how it looked from our garden - special effects like left camera shake, alternating with right camera shake an essential skill) to documentaries - "Day In The Life Of A Ball Bearing Manufacturer" and "Skipton Gala - The Movie".As the 80s unfolded, video with it's sound, long record time and instant playback would make 8mm film something for die hard enthusiasts only and would prove that when camcorder owners had so much spare time to full on their video tape, they would film anything.Like most items from the 70s that were dismissed as cranky in the 80s, Super 8 is making a comeback with pop video makers and some feature film makers using the format in an "artistic" manner. Kodak are still producing Super 8 film stock and websites are now appearing to support the interests of those of us (me included) who fancy digging out their old cine camera again !.

Stars Of The 70s

Posted by webmasterneo on 01 June 2007 under Downloads



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