CHRISTMAS 1976. Flicking through the faded Christmas edition of Radio Times brings back so many memories. The magazine had been carefully kept in a plastic sleeve to ensure optimum preservation. Owning a precious 41 year old magazine means handling with care – making sure my fingers are free from marmalade and excessive moisturizer. I’ve done a good job so far – the only major damage is on the back page where an advert for After Eight appears (the sticky tape had been in close proximity). In general, the magazine is in pretty good nick.
What sort of things whetted our appetite in 1976? Where did we splash the cash?
Aerials – we spent our money on car aerials according to the Halfords advert. ‘Does my car have an aerial attached?’ I’ve seen them on Uber’s but to be absolutely certain I looked out the window at my car. Sure enough my car has an aerial – on the front of the roof standing at a 40-degree angle. Back in the 70s, many cars had the aerials positioned on the front end of the car (close to the bonnet) – they had to be manually pulled up so the radio would operate. I may have dreamt this, but I’m sure I’ve seen some metal clothes hangers used as replacement aerials back in the 70s?
Cassettes – we spent our money on cassettes! I’d call them tapes and I had loads of them. There were so many TV adverts urging us to buy their brand … TDK, BASF, AGFA, Memorex (Is it live or is it Memorex?), Maxell and many more. Tapes were popular. They were essential for recording the top 40 (portable radio on, hitting play & record on the cassette player then complete silence whilst the tunes recorded – hopefully no coughing or sneezing fits would be encountered and playback would be pretty decent). Today I don’t own one single tape. I do have a cassette player hidden in the loft, but I can’t be bothered to stumble over a load of loft insulation to get it.
We loved splashing out on booze back in 1976 and I can confidently say, 41 years on, nothing has changed! Haig whisky, Gordon’s dry gin, Courvoisier cognac, Harveys Bristol Cream, Bell’s whisky and Mackinlay’s whisky all had decent sized advertising in this edition. At Christmas in 1976 our drinks storage area (the cupboard under the stairs, also the home of the 50p gas meter) had 24 bottles of Babycham and 24 bottles of Snowball. Being a mere 6 years old, my limit was a few sips of Babycham. The real, strong, grown up stuff was kept in living room cabinet – Buckfast wine, vodka and dark rum. Christmas 2017 and we’re still splashing out on lashings of booze!
1976 – a time when the only 3 TV channels existed – BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. The Radio times would have listings for only the BBC and radio channels – you’d have to purchase the TV Times to get a glimpse of the festive schedule on ITV. Today I splashed out on the 2017 Christmas edition of Radio Times. Cost comparison – 22p in 1976 – £4.50 in 2017. Adverts for car aerials and cassettes – none! Adverts for booze – none! Our aerials, cassettes and alcohol have been replaced with adverts for Netflix, amazon prime and Olay. There’s a few more ads for furniture too (exit MFI – enter Furniture Village and DFS). The 1976 edition has just slipped off my cluttered desk and landed near the waste paper bin. The 2017 Christmas edition still sits securely on the desk – could it be a sign? Maybe it’s a sign that I need to ditch the booze this Christmas and instead kick back in the sofa, order a amazon fire TV stick and pay more attention to my complexion!