Saturday, 21 May 2022

70s Food

At the start of the seventies, my folks owned a newsagent so, as you can imagine, I formed a very close relationship with chocolate.
How many of these do you remember? I think Mars Bars, Twix and Kitkat are still my favourites, although nowadays, I only allow myself one piece on a Friday, because they have no calories on that day.

As I remember, we used to have a weekly delivery from the "pop man" who would bring every imaginable flavour - I remember Dandelion and Burdock being a favourite.
Set menus were much more common at home - a hang on from the fifties after rationing finally stopped. Fish on Friday - usually from the chippy, or occasionally a "Chinky do" - we made our own dim sum by ordering half a dozen dishes from the local Chinese restaurant. Sunday was traditionally a roast, even in the summer - I can remember lazing on the back lawn with a small glass of sherry while the joint roasted. Saturday saw dishes created from scratch using fresh ingredients – almost every recipe started with slicing an onion, and we had around a dozen different recipes we'd alternate. Quickest was bacon, onion and potato casserole, all the way through to a complex moussaka. Making a b├ęchamel sauce from scratch was a real skill.
On weekdays, we were more likely to open tinned vegtables with chops or a Fray Bentos pie - you opened the flat tin and the pale pastry rose to many times its thickness, turning golden brown.
So many things came in tins from peaches and pineapple to semolina and hot dog sausages. No such thing as sell-by dates, we had enough tins in the cupboard to outlast a siege, and you only chucked them away if the lid began to bulge. And only then after opening them to make sure they weren't still edible.

Those were the days! And yet, we had far fewer food allergies and eating disorders. The advent of Homepride cook-in sauces in 1974 meant one could do coq-au-vin or chicken in white wine sauce with very little prep. The early jars were a real treat, although we never understood the thing making them so tasty was a bunch of added salt and sugar.
Dinner parties: the fondue set was a must, along with cheese & pineapple hedgehogs, cheese straws, Twiglets, cocktail sausages, vol-au-vents and garlic mushrooms. No party was complete without a Quiche Lorraine (tomato and bacon), and people were inspired by holidays abroad - adding pizza, gazpacho and paella, and meals from Indian and Chinese restaurants, with Homepride helping to make chicken curry or sweet and sour pork.
Eating out.
Anyone who was there in the 70s will remember the classics: Prawn cocktail or Melon for starters, Mixed Grill or Steak, Black Forest gateau or lemon meringue pie. It was rare to find a vegetarian option, the attitude was "just don't eat the meat."

Saturday, 14 May 2022

1973 Top Thirteen

As you can tell by the long list of also rans, this was when I really began to develop a massive love affair with music - mostly the rockier side of pop with oodles of Queen, Bowie, ELO, Fleetwood Mac etc. Still hanging on to a stack of soul and a goodly amount of disco - what can I tell you?
I AM a dancer.

These are my top thirteen:
1) Stevie Wonder - Living for the city -11-1973
2) Wings - Live And Let Die - 06-1973
3) Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar - 02-1973
4) David Bowie - Sorrow - 10-73
5) Ike & Tina Turner - Nutbush City Limits - 10-1973
6) Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly With His Song - 03-1973
7) Bobby Goldsboro - Summer (The First Time) - 08-1973
8) David Essex - Rock On - 09-1973
9) The Isley Brothers - (Who's) That Lady - 10-1973
10) Barry Blue - (Dancing) On A Saturday Night - 08-1973
11) Lynsey De Paul - Won't Somebody Dance With Me - 10-1973
12) Hot Chocolate - Brother Louie - 05-1973
13) Billy Paul - Me And Mrs. Jones - 02-1973

And just bubbling under:
David Bowie - Life On Mars - 07-1973
Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Joybringer - 10-1973
Mott The Hoople - Roll Away The Stone - 12-1973
David Bowie - Drive-In Saturday - 04-1973
The Rolling Stones - Angie - 09-1973
The Sweet - Blockbuster - 01-1973
Nazareth - Bad Bad Boy - 08-1973
The Detroit Emeralds - Feel The Need In Me - 03-1973
Drifters - Like Sister And Brother - 09-1973
The Electric Light Orchestra - Roll Over Beethoven - 02-1973
Fleetwood Mac - Albatross - 06-1973
Stealer's Wheel - Stuck In The Middle With You - 06-1973
Focus - Sylvia - 02-1973
Status Quo - Caroline - 10-1973
Free - All Right Now - 08-1973
Paul McCartney & Wings - My Love - 04-1973
Roxy Music - Street Life - 12-1973
Carly Simon - You're So Vain - 01-1973
Leo Sayer - The Show Must Go On - 12-1973
The Sweet - Ballroom Blitz - 09-1973
10cc - Rubber Bullets - 06-1973
First Choice - Smarty Pants - 08-1973

Saturday, 7 May 2022

My 1970s Movies

Although back in 1970s UK, we called them films, not movies - but you know how much I love a little alliteration! When choosing my top three from each year, I based many of these films on my current tastes – pretty sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed Telly Savalas’ band of misfit soldiers at 10 years old. But heck, it had Clint Eastwood, as did many of my faves from the 70s.
You may think the following lists woefully incomplete, but the majority of others getting a mention were ones I’ve heard of – not necessarily the highest grossing or critically acclaimed. And you’ll notice a bunch of musicals and horror among the action and rom-coms.

1970 – Two Mules for Sister Sara, Kelly’s Heroes, MASH.
Airport, Love Story, The Aristocats, Ryan’s Daughter, Catch-22, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Railway Children.

1971 – Shaft, Dirty Harry, Get Carter.
Klute, Play Misty for Me, Duel, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Fiddler on the Roof, Diamonds Are Forever, Walkabout,
Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Beguiled, A Clockwork Orange.

1972 – Sleuth, What’s Up Doc, The Poseidon Adventure.
The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris, Silent Running, Cabaret, Frenzy, The Getaway, The Way of the Dragon, The Mechanic, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Deliverance.

1973 – Live and Let Die, The Sting, The Three Musketeers.
The Exorcist, Enter The Dragon, The Way We Were, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Day of the Jackal, Magnum Force, The Wicker Man, American Graffiti, High Plains Drifter, Papillon, Serpico, Paper Moon, A Touch of Class, Badlands.

1974 – Death Wish, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Blazing Saddles.
Murder on the Orient Express, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Towering Inferno, The Land That Time Forgot, The Great Gatsby, Confessions of a Window Cleaner, The Odessa File, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

1975 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Jaws, The Stepford Wives, The Man Who Would Be King, The Return of the Pink Panther, Tommy, Funny Lady, Shampoo, Rollerball, Three Days of the Condor, Rooster Cogburn, Shivers.

1976 – Carrie, Bugsy Malone, The Slipper and the Rose.
A Star is Born, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Eagle Has Landed, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Marathon Man, The Omen, Logan’s Run, King Kong, Rocky, Taxi Driver, All the President's Men.

1977 – Saturday Night Fever, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars.
Smokey and the Bandit, The Spy Who Loved Me, Goodbye Girl, A Bridge Too Far, The Hills Have Eyes. The Deep, The Gauntlet Annie Hall, Black Joy.

1978 – Grease, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Every Which Way but Loose.
Superman, Death on the Nile, Halloween, Blue Collar, Heaven Can Wait, The Wild Geese, Battlestar Galactica, Convoy, Coma, Damien: Omen II, The Boys from Brazil, The Deer Hunter, Midnight Express.

1979 – Alien, Life of Brian, Star Trek.
Mad Max, 10, Moonraker, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Amityville Horror, Escape from Alcatraz, Time After Time, Apocalypse Now, All That Jazz, Being There.

Hands up if you remember trying to get into an X-rated (18+) film when you’re only thirteen. For me, that was Enter the Dragon and, guess what? My (strict) mum and dad took me to see it!
The old film ratings changed on 1st July 1970, with the A rating going from 11+ to 8+, an extra level AA for 14+ and the X rating going up from 16+ to 18+.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

1972 Top Thirteen

In 1972 (aged 12) music took on even more importance as I discovered boys, plastering my walls with posters of teen idols like Donny Osmond and David Cassidy.
I remember factions in the playground - you were either Osmonds or Jacksons, and through them, I discovered Soul.
In general, my favourite music took on a much more grown-up feel, heavily influenced by David Bowie and screaming rock guitars.

These are my top thirteen:
1) Python Lee Jackson – In A Broken Dream – 10-72
2) Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes – 08-72
3) Argent – Hold Your Head Up – 03-72
4) Nilsson – Without You – 02-72
5) America – Horse With No Name – 01-72
6) Elton John – Rocket Man – 05-72
7) Michael Jackson – Ben – 12-72
8) Peter Skellern – You're A Lady – 10-72
9) Alice Cooper – School's Out – 07-72
10) Doobie Brothers – Listen to the Music – 11-72
11) The Chi-Lites – Have You Seen Her? – 02-72
12) David Cassidy – How Can I Be Sure? – 09-72
13) Hurricane Smith - Oh Babe What Would You Say? – 05-72

And just bubbling under:
David Bowie – Starman – 08-72
The Stylistics – Betcha by Golly Wow – 02-72
The Chiffons – Sweet Talkin' Guy – 04-72
Derek and The Dominoes – Layla – 08-72
Elvis Presley – I Just Can't Help Believing – 01-72
The Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack – 11-72
Labi Siffre – Crying Laughing Loving Lying – 04-72
Family – Burlesque – 11-72
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade Of Pale – 06-72
The Carpenters – Goodbye To Love – 10-72
Bread – Baby I'm A Want You – 02-72
Gilbert O'Sullivan – Clair – 10-72
Slade – Look Wot You Dun – 02-72

Hi to everyone who remembers tuning into radio one every Sunday teatime, we had a round-up of the charts, and a run-down of the top ten in a Radio 1 show called Pick of the Pops. Until 24 September 1972, it was presented by the fabulous Alan "Fluff" Freeman. The following week it changed as Tom Browne, with his distinctive cultured voice, took over with his new style Sunday evening Chart rundown, called 'Solid Gold Sixty' broadcast from 4pm-7pm. The show counted down the week's Top 60 best-selling singles chart with the last hour featuring the Top 20, also carried by Radio 2 Long Wave and VHF. Solid Gold Sixty ran for 18 months until March 1974 leaving Tom to present a shorter Top Twenty show on Sundays from 6pm - 7pm. Tom presented this show until March 1978 when he was replaced by Simon Bates.

I'd love to hear your Pick of the Pops memories.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

1970s Women’s Fashions

In researching this, I came across an article suggesting the 70s was “one of the most stylish decades of all time.” Make of that what you will. It certainly had a massive variety, taking us from the 60s extremes of chic mini-skirts and long hippy beads and dreds, all the way through to the anti-fashions of grungy punk in 1979.

The early 70 saw lots of bare midriffs as frilly crop-tops accompanied tight denim, leather or matching fabric trousers, all suitably flared from either the knees or thighs. I had a pair of pale purple, brushed-denim flares with big brown buttons all the way from knee to floor, and I remember wearing them until they fell apart and mum chucked them out. Bell bottoms or Oxford bags, trouser legs used a lot of material. In contrast, women’s tops became skimpier as tight-fitting halter-necks and boob-tubes became all the rage, firstly in discos, then in general wear.

By the middle of the decade, the mini-skirts and hot pants gave way to midi- and maxi-dresses, kaftans with lots of ruching, ruffles and Laura Ashley prints. We had every conceivable type of jumpsuit from crazy, open-fronted crochet to cool cotton for the beach, and the one I remember was short-sleeved, zip-fronted in functional denim-look polyester, but it was a nightmare trying to pee if the pub had an outside loo!
More women had office-based careers, and wrap dresses offered a professional appearance in the office, which could then be dressed up for an evening on the town immediately after work. Trousers became increasingly acceptable for both formal and work wear for women, and trouser suits became less form-fitting and feminine. Blouses went for a more masculine styling, adopting the long, sharp-pointed collars, mostly in plain colours. Brown was the stand-out colour of the decade, teamed with yellow, orange and/or turquoise. What were we thinking?

The late 70s saw Glam Rock/Disco overtaken by Punk Rock and the OTT spangles and sequins turned to torn denim and lace held together with safety pins. Black leather trousers/skirt formed the basis of many outfits, often teamed with leopard print or tartan.

I haven't mentioned hair and makup, as that's coming in a later article, as are men's fashions. If you have a particular 70's clothing memory, please share in a comment below.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Pre-order Chloe’s Chaos

You have until 22nd April to pre-order Chloe’s Chaos the second in the Calamity Chicks (70s Sweethearts) series at the bargain price of £2.22/$2.99.

The third book, Linda’s Lament is also up for pre-order.

If Tina’s story is the question, Chloe’s story is the answer to why so many of these endearing characters acted the way they did. I had a total blast writing it: despite having a second dose of COVID, it took a mere 26 days, the words just falling over themselves to hit the page.

I know many writers say their latest story is their favourite, but this is definitely in my all-time top three – I never expected Chloe to be such fun when I first met her as Tina’s friend.

Quite where the pseudo-autistic skater-guy, gentle-giant hairy biker and psychotic millionaire-stalker appeared from is a mystery. But when Chloe turned out to be the spitting image of Stevie Nicks, it all came together perfectly.

Tina’s Torment, the prequel to this, was the second full story I’d ever written (back in the nineties), with the working title Dubious Revenge and, trust me, I thought it was pretty awesome in my naivety. Couldn’t be further from the truth – chock-a-block full of every rookie writer’s frequent offenders – way too much passive telling, pages of elaborate description, unrealistic dialogue – every sin in the book!
After a bunch of fabulous authors had pointed out these flaws, it first saw the light of day as Tina’s Dilemma in 2014, as part of an anthology of medium-length novellas, published as Triple Jeopardy under my pseudonym Rowanna Green.
Having written/published 30 stories in between, I’ve added in a couple of sub plots and reinstated all the 70’s music a strict editor told me to remove. Now it’s a much more immersive experience, and I’m thrilled to spend more time in this time period, getting to know these lads and lasses even better.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

1971 Top Thirteen

Just a quickie this week because we’ve family coming which means 3 month's-worth of cleaning – we haven’t seen them since New Year.
Still a lot of bubble gum along with several proper classics from Labi Siffre, Diana Ross, Cher and Rod Stewart.
The likes of the Sweet and T Rex heralded the start of glam rock, and I was totally knocked out by Slade’s Coz I Luv You. Still one of my all-time faves and I’m proud to say I saw them live three times – the original good-time band.

1) Slade – Coz I Luv You – 11-71
2) Labi Siffre – It Must Be Love – 12-71
3) Diana Ross – I'm Still Waiting – 08-71
4) Cher – Gipsies Tramps and Thieves – 11-71
5) Rod Stewart – Maggie May – 09-71
6) Peter Noone – Oh You Pretty Things – 06-71
7) Isaac Hayes – Theme From 'Shaft' – 12-71
8) The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar – 05-71
9) The Congregation – Softly Whispering I Love You – 12-71
10) The Sweet - Funny Funny - 04-71
11) Lobo – Me And You And A Dog Named Boo – 07-71
12) The Mixtures – The Pushbike Song – 01-71
13) Redbone – Witch Queen Of New Orleans – 10-71

And a few which deserve an honorary mention:
Curved Air – Back Street Luv – 09-71
George Harrison – My Sweet Lord – 01-71
The Fortunes – Freedom Come Freedom Go – 10-71
Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline – 02-71
Dawn – Knock Three Times – 05-71
The Tams – Hey Girl Don't Bother Me – 08-71
Andy Williams – (Where Do I Begin) Love Story – 04-71
The New Seekers – I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing – 12-71