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Classic Comedy: Open All Hours: How to successfully manage a corner shop


WHEN it comes to running a corner shop there’s a few no-brainers – open-up on time, look after your customers, keep the shop clean and make a tidy profit.

Arkwright did all the above and more. He had a distinctive way of looking after his customers and knew how to maximise profit. His motto was ‘Get it in the till quick’ whilst making sure the deadly cash drawer didn’t crush his fingers.

Here we take a look at some tricks of the trade used by Arkwright to ensure the customers and cash kept rolling-in …


Know your customer and offer them the best most expensive

Arkwright certainly knew his customers. Regulars stepping into the shop for their usual would sometimes be offered a more expensive upgrade. Refusing the upgrade would lead to a long-winded sales pitch. The customer would either 1) endure the pitch and walk out with their usual purchase, or 2) buy the upgrade to avoid hassle and confrontation. The long-winded sales pitch is worth the effort and could result in an extra 10p in the till!


Leave the donkey work to someone else

The only times we saw beads of sweat on Arkwright’s face was when he had to shell out cash or got sight of nurse Gladys’ cleavage. Granville did all the running around which freed-up Arkwright to stand back and assess trends, customer behaviour and think about maximising profit. Getting someone else doing the donkey work sounds sensible.


Don’t throw anything away and be creative!

Imagine having a supply of tinned food with no labels on them. With no idea of the contents, it may be tempting to toss em’ in the bin. In Arkwright’s world, tossing anything away without receiving any cash is criminal. How about promoting the unnamed tins in a ‘Canned Surprise’ bingo? ‘What’s in the tin?’ –  ‘I don’t know, it could be anything … Rice pudding, Pears, Baked Beans, Soup … buy a few and find out’. Genius thinking brought to us by the one and only Arkwright.


Never let anyone entering the shop leave empty handed

Any potential customer leaving the corner shop empty handed is absolutely unacceptable to Arkwright. Someone popping into the shop to ask for directions – sell em’ a loaf of bread and a few slices of ham for their journey round the corner. When opportunity knocks, grab it with both hands and get money in the till!


A work life balance is essential

If it wasn’t for nurse Gladys the corner shop would be Arkwright’s only reason for living. Nurse Gladys was a welcome distraction and brought out the randy side of the money-grabbing shopkeeper. All work and no play is like waiting for paint to dry in a humid room … boring and never-ending.


Protect your assets

After spending lots of money making sure the shop is well stocked, the last thing you want is some thieving toe-rag swiping it away. Arkwright had a rifle for shooting thieves but the more sensible option is an alarm, CCTV or even a hungry guard dog. Your stock is your livelihood so keep it secure – no one is going to come into your shop if the shelves are as bare as a nudist resort!



The conclusion and recipe for success

Thinking of owning a corner shop? Keep the top-tips mentioned above in mind – learn from experience not by making elementary shopkeeping errors. Remember that cash is king and running a successful corner shop could mean ending up living like royalty.


Read about television, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years in the nostalgic book ‘Section N Underpass’. A fun and factual hardback that will have you in stitches whilst reminiscing about the 70s and 80s. A must-have for nostalgia fans. Read all about it and pre-order here: Enter the underpass

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Yesterday’s Drive: A brief review of car advertising in the 70s and 80s

BACK in the 70s and 80s, before driving-off, we’d pull the aerial up in order to get a radio reception. Once inside, we’d manually operate the choke and start the engine. After winding down the window and adjusting the wing mirror, a bit of strength was needed to turn the non-powered steering wheel.

Today’s cars are more reliable and there’s less faffing required to get moving, but there’s no mistaking the awe and beauty of some of the cars from back in the day. The car market has always been competitive and some of the advertising from yesterday-years go about taking their competitors apart in a sly and subtle manner.

In this short article, we’ll look at some of the cars advertising from yesterday-years – from the sexy to the all-out rip-speed beast.


A Sexy drive

Sexy is a matter of opinion but there were some cars where sexiness oozed from bumper to bumper. Their shape was unbelievably well-crafted and still turn heads when seen on streets today. Sexy could be served straight and undiluted or with a dash of adventure and sportiness.





The family drive

Having a car that could comfortably fit a family became a big boast. It was important that the passengers didn’t feel like a journey in the car was more like an endurance test rather than a pleasant experience. The Austin Allegro television advert boasted about having room for five, room to spare and room for long legs!



The cars on the posh end of the spectrum

Cars that really cut the mustard. Many of them were sleek and had that ‘company car’ look. Owners of cars in this category were made a quiet statement or two … ‘I’m classy and I know it’ and ‘I’m not average’.



The practical drive

Estate cars ruled when it came to having an extra bit of room. A bit extra room for those bulky flick-lock suitcases or for transporting weighty furniture. The Volvo was seen as a robust, reliable, safety-first type of car. Practicality was paramount for the owners of cars in this category – can be summarised as being no nonsense cars  that won’t win any beauty contests but will do the job.


The all-out pedal to the metal cars

Practicality is left for dust when it came to these cars. Speed, speed and more speed was the only topic on the agenda. Drivers wanting to put pedal to the metal whilst making other motorists look like tiny dots in their rear view mirror. Today’s motoring  advertisements cannot mention speed, fast or any words indicating that the driver could outrun other cars (safety reasons and discourage potential speed demons) but back in the day this was not the case … broom broom screech eat my exhaust fumes!


Easy driving

Power steering, automatic choke, parking sensors, onboard warning lights, CD players, MP3 players, central locking, heated mirrors, adjustable mirrors, automatic front windows – all of these come as standard with our modern cars. The question of ‘What’s the furthest you’ve gone in that car?’ has disappeared from our motoring discussions – reliability has risen to impressively high standards. Whilst all these advancements are a huge leap forward to making driving easier and enjoyable, there’s no mistaking the beauty, fun and the nostalgic feeling when you see a Yesterday’s Drive on the street.



Read about the Ford Cortina, The Austin Allegro and Ambassador and the Ford Capri in the nostalgic book ‘Section N Underpass’. It’s a must-have for memories of the 70s and 80s. Pre-order your copy here: Enter the Underpass



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Classic television: Bullseye and Bully’s prize board



BULLSEYE was classic Sunday afternoon/early evening viewing in the 80s. Hosted by the charismatic Jim Bowen, it was a hit with the nation and is still being shown on the TV channel Challenge!

Not just darts but …

Loads of money

Wads of hard-cash being dished out was typical of the gameshow – Jim would often count out the banknotes during the interval. Bullseye was generous when it came to handing over the cash – instant and in your face!

The speedboats

Speedboats were a popular star prize but winning one could cause a bit of a problem if you suffered from sea-sickness or if the coast was 250 miles away. All’s not lost if you ended-up with an unwanted sleek, powerful boat … apparently a swap option was available … phew!

The Bully’s tankard

Jim would position the cash notes elegantly in the tankard with half-in and half-out. Contestants would walk away with the legionary steel tankard and proudly display it on their mantlepiece. A tankard and darts brings back memories of the days when professional darts players gulped-down serious amounts of beer between throws … maybe this can be reintroduced into the modern game to liven things up.



Bully’s prize board


Before we start, a couple of golden rules:

  1. Stay in the red and out of the black
  2. You get nothing for two in a bed

The prizes on the board were pretty impressive – here’s a few goodies that were up for grabs:

Innnn One … Dinner gone cold? This microwave oven will reheat it in no-time.

Innnn Two … You’ll be right on time with this pair of stylish gold plated watches.

Innn Three … Get rid of the guesswork and weigh accurately with these digital scales.

Innn Four … No birds or feathers in sight with these elegant nest of glass tables.

Innn Five … This motor powered bike will make outdoor leisure time enjoyable.

Innn Six … Keep your lawn neat and tidy with this lawnmower.

Innn Seven … You’ll be a step ahead with this latest, top of the range home computer.

Innn Eight … Knowledge is power – you’ll have both with this set of encyclopaedias.

And the prize for hitting the bullseye … No need to shift from the sofa to change channels … it’s a colour television with remote control!


Not too shabby if you throw your darts right

Lots of practice, a steady hand and a good general knowledge base stored in your head meant you could be quids-in and heading home with a van full of top-notch prizes. Whilst Brucie encouraged contestants to play their cards right, in Bullseye it was about throwing your darts right … keep in the red and out of the black … take your time and don’t rush … aim for the board and don’t let those darts stray!


Enjoyed the blog? The book, Section N Underpass, celebrates advertising, leisure and entertainment from the 70s and 80s. Enjoy memorable straplines,  photos, sketches, facts and of course lots of fun! Release date: Early December 2018. Read more and pre-order your copy here: Enter the underpass


Missed last weeks’ instalment? Catch-up here as we revisited the classic Kellogg’s Bran Flakes adverts: Classic television adverts: Kellogg’s Bran Flakes … they’re tasty tasty very very tasty


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Classic television adverts: Kellogg’s Bran Flakes … they’re tasty tasty very very tasty

… but show ’em Kellogg’s Bran flakes thats a different matter, they’ll all reply:

They’re tasty tasty very very tasty

They’re very tasty



Being brutally honest, on paper the ‘very very tasty’ lyrics looks like something written by a five-year-old after watching Play School or You and Me (‘You and me, me and you. Lots and lots for you to do …). Who’d had thought that these simple repetitive words would become one of the most popular straplines in television advertising.


Totally mental!


Imagine enjoying a meal in a restaurant – the waiter/waitress approaches the table and asks if everything’s OK and you reply adamantly in a songful manner ‘It’s tasty tasty very very tasty, it’s very tasty’. Your reply could be interpreted as:

a) The food really is out of this world – totally exceptional!

b) You’re drunk!

c) You’re a bit weird – we’ll keep an eye on you and warn the other staff members to approach with caution.

The chances are that options b) and c) would be the most likely, but when it comes to Bran Flakes thats a different matter – option a) is widely accepted and you’re seen as normal and fun!


Success via lyrical madness 



There’s been a number of Bran Flake adverts throughout the 80s – all containing the mad but catchy ‘very very tasty’ chorus … but each new advert came with new lyrics that left us giggling and scratching our heads – here’s a few of them (bear in mind that the adverts are promoting breakfast cereal):


‘What about the weather – is it going to rain?’

‘I think you’ve caught an old boot ‘

‘How’d you scrub the floor deck?’

‘You know your worms off the hook’

‘How’d you like your eggs done’

‘Can you see the milkman?’

‘You ought to try some press-ups’

‘Everyone together, bend and stretch’

‘Let me feel your biceps’

‘I think there’s a crab by your toes’

‘You know you’ve got a wasp in your ear’


Up there with the best



The ‘very very tasty’ series of adverts share the podium with the likes of ‘Shake and vac and put the freshness back’, ‘The water in Majorca’ and ‘Will it be chips or jacket spuds?’. In terms of madness factor, ‘very very tasty’ wins hands-down. What’s ironic is the end of the 1982 advert when the waiter says ‘You know this could catch on’ … tasty tasty very very tasty …


Enjoyed the blog? The book, Section N Underpass, celebrates advertising, leisure and entertainment from the 70s and 80s. Enjoy memorable straplines,  photos, sketches, facts and of course lots of fun! Release date: December 2018. Read more and pre-order your copy here: Enter the underpass

Want more classic adverts? Check these out:

Do the Shake and Vac: Classic advert: Shake ‘n’ Vac with Jenny Logan

Will it be chips or jacket spuds? Classic TV advert: Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills … we hope it’s chips … we hope it’s chips it’s chips

The water in Majorca … Classic advert: From posh to cockney – The water in Majorca …


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Classic advert: From posh to cockney – The water in Majorca …




The water in Majorca don’t taste like how it ought ta

This 80s advert is another one of those that seems to stick in our minds forever.

First and foremost, the advert has nothing to do with the taste of water in Majorca … it’s about pronunciation, perfecting the cockney language and of course Heineken, the beer that refreshes the parts that other beers cannot reach.



 A brief rundown of the characters at the school of credibility






The frustrated cockney


He’s persistent – even though his patience is being stretched to breaking point he’s not giving up. His facial expression has the look of ‘Why can’t you get a grasp of this!’ and ‘It’s not that hard!’ He has the challenging task of transforming posh into cockney.


Del the assistant and unsung hero

IMG_0107 2

Del tells the struggling posh lady to get her ‘laughing gear around that’ as he hands her a can of Heineken. Notice how quick Del is out with the refreshments immediately after his boss makes the request – efficient, no-nonsense service from Del.


The posh lady




She’s trying her best but it’s just not good enough. You can’t fault her attentiveness and effort, but a bit like a hamster on a wheel, she’s stuck in the starting position and going nowhere. ‘Ohh golly!’ is her surprised response after being handed a can of beer. Taking the first gulp in a rather unlady-like-fashion results in the massive shift away from posh to cockney. The second gulp ensures that any residue of poshness is thoroughly flushed away. She’s gone from ‘The water in Majorca doesn’t taste like what it ought to‘ to ‘The worter in Majorca don’t taste like how it ought ta’ – her pronunciation is bang-on and cor blimey she’s cracked it! Her next stop … maybe a ball and chalk to the battlecruiser to ‘ave a few pints and a laugh n a joke.


Enjoyed da blog? Eastender Scott Manning talks about British Telecom, Busby and phonecards in the new nostalgic book Section N Underpass (available November 2018). Get da rundown and pre-order your copy here: Enter the Underpass




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Section N Underpass: the unexpected journey back to the 70s & 80s

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Carlton Krane arrives in the living room of his new home courtesy of an unexpected detour into the Section N Underpass.
The multi-coloured carpets, hypnotic-patterned wallpaper and the Cortina in the garage indicate a reversal of time.
Drawn to the utility room by the swirling sound of the twin-tub washing machine, he discovers a shoebox full of typewritten documents – documents containing details of advertising, leisure, lifestyle and entertainment from yester-years. Section N Underpass – the ‘N’ stands for Nostalgia – existing in the past… a reality! Tag-along with Carlton Krane whilst enjoying nostalgic straplines, stories, facts, photos and sketches.
Section N Underpass is full-on nostalgia without lumps, fat or gristle – guaranteed! Every page will make you smile, giggle or laugh out loud. A must read for anyone who enjoys regular trips back down memory lane.
Release date: Late November/Early December 2018.

Pre-order your copy here: Enter the Section N Underpass

Here’s a peek at what’s inside:

1. The Freeman Hardy Willis Shoebox 


2. Mr Kipling: The Master Baker And The Tale Of Sandra The Nosey Parker! 


3. Making And Consuming Angel Delight By Mrs Dolly Enright 


4. Cadbury’s Milk Tray… All Because The Lady Loves Milk Tray 


5. Lucozade – In Sickness And Health – Enthusiastic Advice From General Practitioner Davis J Daniels 


6. Wall’s Ice Cream Keeping Cool During The Scorching Summer 


7. Beanz Meanz Heinz 


8. Grandstand Or World Of Sport? Sport Rules On Saturday Afternoon 


9. How To Win At Monopoly The Cheat Sheet 


10 Smash Hits: Lester Drake Talks To The Bitch With The Notepad 


11 The Name Is Vic Held Captive By The Vic 20 Home Computer 


12. The Raleigh Chopper: Stretching The Imagination 


13. Ready Brek Central Heating For Harry 


14. My Preferred Choice Of Weapon By Mrs J. Hastings 


15. Ian’s Survival Plan Whilst at Grange Hill


16. The Allegro, The Ambassador, Sel The Mechanic And Castrol Motor Oil 


17. The Ford Capri: A Short Tale Of A Regretful Taxi Driver


18. The Green Cross Code Man – The Helpless Gent

19. John Stoneyleigh-Smith Is The Voice Of Access – Your Flexible Friend


20. A Brief History Of British Telecom Told By Eastender Scott Manning  


21. Matey To The Rescue 


22. The Big Clean-Up With Judy Jacobson


23. Brut Aftershave – Homme De France With Attitude 


24. Maxwell House Coffee

Pre-order your copy here: Enter the Section N Underpass


Section N Underpass Cover



Are you a lover of nostalgia? Take a look at the five popular blogs published in 2018

  1. Can you believe the iconic children’s TV programme Grange Hill is 40 years old this year?  Read out the Grange Hill 40: Friends Reunited – the return of the Nostalgic Geeks
  2. Remember the Shake ‘n’ Vac advert on television? Read about it here: Classic advert: Shake ‘n’ Vac with Jenny Logan
  3. Whilst we’re on the advertising trail, do you remember the Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills adverts with the singing workmen? Classic TV advert: Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills … we hope it’s chips … we hope it’s chips it’s chips
  4. How’s your cockney rhyming slang? Practice here as we take a closer look at the classic television advert for Heineken: Classic advert: From posh to cockney – The water in Majorca …
  5. Remember the days when cars had no electric windows or power steering and the radio and tape cassette were the only entertainment options? Check out some fantastic retro car advertising here: Yesterday’s Drive: A brief review of car advertising in the 70s and 80s


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Classic TV advert: Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills … we hope it’s chips … we hope it’s chips it’s chips

AFTER a day’s work, the workmen in the van sing about what would be a nice accompaniment to a steakhouse grill …

Will it be chips or jacket spuds

Will it be salad or frozen peas

Two others join in with:

Will it be mushrooms

Quickly followed by:

Fried onion rings

And all together now:

You’ll have to wait and see!


A brief tale featuring the driver, the choir and the steakhouse grill

The Driver


The poor driver looks totally fed-up when the first workman breaks out into pre-dinner-time song. He shakes his head and his face has the look of ‘Not again – I hear this every evening … why can’t you just bloody-well wait til you get home to find out?’ The whole shebang has got that broken record feeling. The driver just wants to put his foot down and dump his colleagues off ASAP!


The colleagues (the dinnertime choir)

Make no mistake these men have been practicing for a decent length of time (probably every evening for the last 18 months – same time and place to the annoyance of the driver). The first two lines of the song effortlessly rolls off the tongue and the timing of the others joining in is impeccable!


The Steakhouse Grill

Pure ground beef that looks like a steak and cooks like a steak. It’s what the men have been craving. There was no doubt the steakhouse grill would be on the on the plate but what would partner-up with it? The men were hoping that chips would beat-off competition from jacket spuds, salad, mushrooms, fried onion rings and frozen peas. The final question on the advert is ‘What will you give your old man with his steakhouse grill?’ – 80s advertising.


The end?


The driver has had enough – he slams his foot down on the accelerator pedal and goes around bends and corners like a drunk Formula 1 driver. The choir in the van are thrown around like puppets and the dinnertime song is replace by shrieks and bumps. He then drops-off his colleagues one-by-one by – a loud screech of the wheels is heard as he reaches each drop-off point. As each colleague stumbles out the van (battered and bruised), the driver sings ‘Will it be chips or jacket spuds …’



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 hereSection N Underpass

Missed last weeks blog? Catch up with with another classic advert here: Classic advert: Shake ‘n’ Vac with Jenny Logan

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Classic advert: Shake ‘n’ Vac with Jenny Logan



DO the shake ‘n’ Vac and put the freshness back,

do the shake ‘n’ vac and put the freshness back.

When your carpets smell fresh, your room does too

So every time you vacuum, remember what to do.


Classic advertising

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!


Jenny 2



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


Missed last weeks blog? Catch up on the happenings at Grange Hill here: Grange Hill 40: Friends Reunited – the return of the Nostalgic Geeks


Finally don’t forget the check out the Shake ‘n’ Vac advert here: Original Shake ‘n’ Vac

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Grange Hill 40: Friends Reunited – the return of the Nostalgic Geeks



The place: The iconic Elstree studios

When: A comfortably warm Mid-September weekend

The cause: The Good Grief Trust


Register and assembly

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 delightful duo: Lucinda Duckett (Ann Wilson) and Abigail Brown (Judy Preston)




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

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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.

Q&A session in full swing. George Armstrong (Alan Humphries), Donald Waugh (Hughsie), Linda Slater (Susi McMahon), Lucinda Duckett (Ann Wilson), Abigail Brown (Judy Preston), Michelle Herbert (Trisha Yates)


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.


Lunch time!

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.

Tucker’s jacket!


The amazing cake made by Karen’s Cakes


Want the next retrohen instalment straight to your inbox? (Every Saturday) Send ‘YES’ to


Enjoyed the blog? 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 yester-years. Release date late November/early December 2018. Read all about it and pre-order your copy here: Enter the Underpass

Section N Underpass Cover


Want more Grange Hill? Check out the blog here: Re-opening of Grange Hill?


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The Operation Game: A brief tale regarding the complexities of removing body parts



Original retro gaming?

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.


Adam’s Apple

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


Broken Heart

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


Funny bone

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


Spare ribs

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


Writer’s cramp

Technique: Just pluck it out!

Pre-op advice: If you can’t successfully complete this routine procedure … resign!

Difficulty level: 1/10


Bread basket

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


Charlie horse

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

Technique: None!

Pre-op advice: Warn the patient before the procedure that the chance of the success is one in a million!

Difficulty level: 10/10


Wrenched ankle

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

Section N Underpass Cover



Keep enjoying the nostalgia!

Check out some memories of the Vic 20 here: Nostalgic computer memory: The Vic 20