It’s still fondly remembered! The song and dance choreography was pretty impressive. Whilst its unlikely the whole nation did the Shake ‘n’ Vac dance when vacuuming, the advert is one of those that’s planted deep in our minds and will stay rooted until we’re six-feet under!
The tale of the vacuum cleaner and the glass ashtray
What was the reason for the large headlamp at the front of the vacuum cleaner? If late night cleaning was on the agenda then maybe a handy feature? Or maybe the designers at Hoover thought of it as a warning to an innocent passer-by – ‘watch out Hoovers about – out the way or I’ll rip your feet off!’ Suggestions welcome please.
Also vacuum cleaners were not very featherweight back in the 70s and 80s so we’ve got to hand it to Jenny for pushing the hefty machine around whilst doing the Shake ‘n’ Vac’. A combination of pushing, dancing and singing probably meant poor Jenny collapsed on the sofa and nodded-off after filming the commercial!
The glass ashtray (sometimes full – The Royale Family comes to mind) taking centre stage on the coffee table is a reminder of how things were during the yester-years. Stale tobacco aroma engulfed us as we entered and clung to clothes for hours. And of course the smell drifted into the carpets too … Shake ‘n’ Vac to the rescue!
A fab performance by the original Shake ‘n’ Vac queen
Jenny packs in singing, shaking and dancing during the 30 second advert. Her enthusiasm for vacuuming was pretty amazing. She helped the producers of Shake ‘n’ Vac, Glade, shift millions of bottles. A dazzling performance ending with clean carpets and a fresh smelling room. As the curtains closed the audience continued singing ‘Do the Shake ‘n’ Vac and put the freshness back’.
Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date early December 2018. Get the rundown and pre-order your copy here: Section N Underpass
There was quite a queue of hardcore GH fans outside the studios – many of them dressed in true old-school style (‘Just say No’ t-shirts, full on GH uniforms, a gentleman wearing a Gripper Stebson t-shirt and many others sporting retro clothing). I call myself (and my business) Nostalgic Geek(s) but one chap pointed out that everyone at the event was in fact a Nostalgic Geek! I nodded my head in approval (hopefully the terminology won’t offend anyone reading this blog – be reassured, being a nostalgic geek is pretty groovy).
The conversations in the queue was what you’d expect from a group of GH fans – ‘Who’ll be here? Is Todd Carty coming? I wonder what the school dinner will be like?’
Like a rapid game of Snap, nostalgic topics began flowing during the queue discussion …
‘Why don’t we ever see white poo on the streets anymore?’
‘Remember going into the sweet shop and asking for ‘a quarter of sweets’? We didn’t know what ‘a quarter’ meant but we knew what it looked like!’
The topic of ‘THAT’ smell from the school canteen came up as we reminisced about the culinary delights of school dinners (sausages containing at least 45% gristle, grey and lumpy mash potato, vegetables that were over-cooked by about an hour all slapped onto a plate – a ladle of gravy providing the finishing touch – Bon appetit!)
As we entered the studio, the sound of the ‘On my radio’ by the Selecter pumped out of the speakers. The room was covered with GH posters and memorabilia – we had arrived!
The Good Grief Trust
So we’d forked out for this event and all the proceeds raised was going to The Good Grief Trust. The trust works towards bringing all bereavement support organisations under one umbrella – this enables the bereaved to find help and support quickly. The fact is all of us will be affected by bereavement during our lives. On a personal note, I wish I knew about the services available when family members passed away. It’s good to know that The Good Grief Trust are here to help anyone going through an emotionally challenging time. The Good Grief Trust is a fantastic, worthwhile trust.
Session 2: Friends reunited – a lesson on humility and amazing personal connections
There’s something special about GH. We all have our favourite characters, episodes and scenes (One of my faves is Fleur Taylor playing the role of Imelda Davis, stuffing fibreglass down another pupils back – crewl! Luckily her hands were free from skin-scratching material during this event) but what struck me about the day was there were no egos – we all seemed like friends who’d not seen each other for a while. The GH cast were just lovable, approachable and incredibly humble. Alison Bettles (who played Fay Lucas) told the attendees that she was surprised that anyone would want to come and see the cast – she was totally blown away by the amount of people that attended. Erkan Mustafa (who played Roland Browning) reiterated that the day was not about the cast, but about the fans – humility in action displayed by all the members of cast.
There was an amazing connection in the room. I’ve never met George Armstrong (Alan Humphries) prior to this event but I was with him when he hung out with Tucker during the Grange Hill years. I’d even walked with him during the time of high umemployment during the Tucker’s Luck days. I, like many other fans, could really connect with the characters. The connection was no more clearer at the mentions and tributes for Terry Sue-Patt (Benny Green). At every mention and tribute to Terry, I felt a deep sense of sorrow and sadness – many that attended this fantastic event was with Benny when he first walked into Grange Hill without school uniform in 1978.
Before lunch – attention to detail
Just because the cast were busy learning scripts and acting out fantastic storylines, they still had to squeeze in some proper education – they received three hours tutoring every day. They even had a chaperone, the lovely Grace. I had the privilege of meeting the 94-years young Grace just before lunch – a delightfully funny and humble lady. I got the feeling she kept the cast in line as I detected a no-nonsense vibe during our chat.
I’m sure there were mixed feelings when mentioned that we’d be provided with a school dinner. Whilst talking to some of the nostalgic geeks whilst queuing to enter the event, I told them about my torturous situation at primary school. Because I lived two minutes away from school and my mum worked part-time, I had the privilege of having lunch at home for the majority of seven years I spent at Harlesden Primary. There were times when mum was not able to provide a delicious hot meal at lunchtime due to changing shifts at work so school dinners stepped-in. The shift from home cooking to school dinners was like moving from a place a freedom to a torture camp – the nauseous aroma followed by dinner being slapped on the plate by serious looking dinner ladies in a no-nonsense stylee is an experience I’ll never forget. I was the child who’d sit staring at the plate whilst shifting the food around with my fork and once in a while hesitantly putting a morsel into my mouth – I was terrified to let any trickle down my oesophagus!
Was the GH 40th school dinner any better than the ones slapped on a plate during the 70s and 80s? Flipping heck it was a huge improvement! Sausages, mash, beans and gravy was on menu – the sausages were cooked to perfection and free from jaw-aching gristle – lump-free mash, tasty beans and gravy at the correct viscosity. I polished-off the pudding of cake and custard too!
The verdict: A massive fail! Far too good to be a traditional school dinner. Where was the mean-looking dinner lady keeping a watchful eye out for anyone not finishing off their dinner? Fail!
Final session, wrap-up and home time
The final session flew – there were more on-stage interviews, autographs, a raffle, lots more photographs and tucking into a slice of amazing cake.
It was a day of fun, laughs and friendships. I can imagine that many of us that attended had the GH theme tune spinning round and round in our heads and even humming it whilst leaving the iconic studios. We look forward with excitement to the Grange Hill 50th.
Grange Hill is featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass – a nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the 70s and 80s. Out now! Read all about it and order your copy here: Enter the Underpass
WHILST growing up during the yester-years, board games were a popular form of entertainment – games like Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Game of Life and Scrabble ruled and there was no sign of the Playstation and Xbox. It was normal to have a board game on the living room carpet with players rolling a dice, shifting their piece around the board whilst kneeling or sitting with legs crossed.
Innovation and staying power
Manufacturers of board games have kept the innovation going to ensure popular games don’t disappear to the board game scrapheap – I’ve lost count of the many versions of Monopoly currently on the market!
The game, Operation, is still on going strong. Trying to remove body parts from patient without anaesthetic would normally mean the end of the road for the surgeon (career-wise) and the poor patient – death! Luckily Operation was not so serious and very forgiving.
Below is a brief story of the complexities of removing body parts in the game of Operation (no one was harmed and no excessive blood loss occurred during the procedures)
The story begins …
THE PATIENT IS TERRIFIED and the surgeon has recently qualified – after years of rigorous study, exams, training and marathon hours, she’s qualified. Fiona Flump questions herself – is she up to the job? She saw the terrified look on the patients’ face. Words of reassurance spurted out her mouth and the patients’ heart rate stabilised. Now it’s time to back up those words of reassurance with action. Hopefully the patient will leave the operating table in a better state than he came in!
The procedure is simple – she’s removed spare ribs many times under watchful supervision but today there’s no supervision. She goes in slowly with the tweezers. The ribs is slightly off centre so she carefully moves it to the central position before the removal – a steady hand is a must as she goes in. The tweezers grip the ribs securely before being lifted out – success! Her reward – a relieved patient and £100!
Dr Flump knows there are more difficult procedures ahead. Below are the levels of difficulty for removing various parts of the body. These ratings are scribbled down on the wall of the staff toilets.
Technique: Pinch hold of the stem.
Pre-op advice: The adam’s apple challenge doesn’t diminish whether it’s a golden delicious or granny smith!
Difficulty level: 6/10
Technique: Get hold of the tip of the bone.
Pre-op advice: Unlike a genie in a bottle, you won’t get three wishes to have three chances of removal!
Difficulty level: 8/10
Technique: Insert tweezers between the broken centre and top half of heart.
Pre-op advice: A broken heart is fragile so handle with care. Advisable to ditch swigging the vodka during this procedure.
Difficulty level: 9/10
Technique: Grab the centre of the bone – dead simple!
After-care advice: After removing give your dog a treat – watch them chomp on the bone whilst wagging their tail.
Difficulty level: 4/10
Technique: Go straight for the tip of a rib!
Pre-op advice: This is a no nonsense removal … don’t make a meal out of it!
Difficulty level: 2/10
Butterflies in stomach
Technique: Just like flipping a coin … choose heads or tails?
Aftercare advice: You’ll be floating like a butterfly and evading the stinging bee after successful removal.
Difficulty level: 5/10
Technique: Just pluck it out!
Pre-op advice: If you can’t successfully complete this routine procedure … resign!
Difficulty level: 1/10
Technique: Into the jigsaw-like area with the tweezers.
Pre-op advice: You’ll find out which side of your bread is buttered if you mess up this procedure!
Difficulty level: 5
Technique: Clutching the leg is recommended.
Pre-op advice: It will be tempting to slap a 50p each way bet on this removal, but remember … no gambling in the operating theatre!
Difficulty level: 8/10
Water on the knee
Technique: How else would you pick up a bucket? Get hold of the handle!
Aftercare advice: Throw the bucket of water at your colleagues in operating theatre – it will stop them dozing off!
Difficulty level: 5/10
Anklebone connected to the knee bone
Pre-op advice: Warn the patient before the procedure that the chance of the success is one in a million!
Difficulty level: 10/10
Technique: Get hold of the centre of the wrench.
Aftercare advice: Take the wrench home and mend that leaky sink. Alternatively it’s a good threatening tool to regain an unpaid loan!
Difficulty level: 3/10
Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic look back at the popular board game Monopoly and the Vic 20 home computer is featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date early December 2018. Get the rundown and pre-order your copy here: Enter the Section N Underpass
WHEN considering renting there are some basic requirements that are must haves – affordability, cleanliness, safety, privacy and location are usually top of the list.
The ideal landlord
It’s reassuring to have a fair and honest landlord – a landlord who charges fair rent – someone who puts their tenants first, makes sure the property is kept in top nick and respects privacy.
The ‘do-what-I-want’ landlord
Step-up Mr Rigsby – the ultimate loose-cannon landlord. Money-grabbing, rude and unreliable. He was also sneaky, fast-talking, quick-witted, chaser of Miss Jones and hater of men with long hair!
I’m sure Rigsby never bothered to hand-over a contract stating the rules and regulations to his tenants – if he did, it could possibly look something like this:
1. I, Rigsby, am the owner of this prestigious house. I will collect rent on a weekly basis. Failure to pay will result in instant eviction. This does not apply to any species of the female variety whom are single.
2. I, Rigsby, will maintain the house and ensure all major repairs are carried out in an untimely manner.
3. The tenant (s) must not entertain guests of the opposite sex within the house. Any tenant (s) found violating this rule will face eviction.
4. I, Rigsby, am the guardian of Vienna, the cat. Vienna has the right to roam around any room that is occupied by the tenant(s). Vienna has rights that exceed those of the tenant(s).
5. All rooms are fully furnished with high quality furniture. Any damage to the furniture must be fully paid for in cash – this can either be paid immediately or added onto the weekly rent (if paying in instalments added onto the weekly rent, interest fees will apply. Interest fees vary depending on the general mood of the landlord)
6. I, Rigsby, have authority to enter the room of any tenant(s) at any time without prior warning.
7. I, Rigsby, have the right to squeeze-in an additional tenant or tenants into an existing room that is currently occupied.
8. I, Rigsby, will ensure that the prestigious building is kept free from defects such as rising damp.
Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date November 2018. Get the rundown and pre-order your copy here: Enter Section N Underpass
AS a new school term is about to begin, teachers have the challenge of encouraging pupils to pull themselves together and shake off the summer holiday hangover. Many pupils eventually get back into the school routine without too much fuss.
Things were a bit different during yester-years – tough punishment was on the agenda for pupils who continued to slack after the summer break.
School discipline – it was sometimes harsh and undeserved. Here are six common ways teachers kept us in line.
Punishment by boredom. ‘I will not talk in class. I will not talk in class. I will not talk in class … I will do my homework… I will do my homework… I will do my homework … I will not throw things at other pupils… I will not throw things at other pupils… I will not throw things at other pupils’.
Stand in the corner and face the wall!
Punishment by boredom and isolation. A blank canvass is ideal for an artist but useless if you’re just standing there staring at it! Your nose is almost kissing the wall and your eyes go blurry. You’ve been ordered not to turn-round until told.
I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap!
You were unaware of the teacher behind you when the naughty word slipped out your mouth. You’re dragged to the toilets where the most scuffed and grubby bar of soap in shoved in your mouth – harsh!
Hit with the blackboard eraser
The teacher is scribbling away on the board. Whilst their back is turned, you have a giggle with and natter to your mate. What you didn’t know is that the teacher has eyes in the back of their head. The eraser is launched and hit it’s intended target …you!
The ear twister
The offence you committed was minor – you’d forgotten the name of the capital city of Brazil even though the teacher had mentioned it two minutes earlier. A twist of the ear meant you’ll never forget the city of Brasilia!
You’ve been involved in a playground punch-up. After being dragged to headmasters office for interrogation, it’s time to take your punishment. The swish sound of the cane before connecting with your hand or backside was terrifying!
A story of the deadly board eraser is featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Release date November 2018.