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Life in Britain in the early 1980s

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  • Life in Britain in the early 1980s

    What was life in Britain like in the early 1980s compared with today? I wasn't around at the time but other folk here were, complete with real life memories of it.

  • #2
    There was a lot less PC back then. Black History Month and LGBT Pride Month were yet to even be thought up!

    Also, take into account that lots of people around 1980ish admired Enoch Powell and even thought he was the best PM we never had. The Monday Club was quite a prominent force in the Conservative Party back then.

    There was definitely more public support for the Royals.

    Not sure about the traffic. Drink driving was definitely more commonplace.

    Comment


    • #3
      Pretty grim Kajagoogoo type hair styles.

      The various makes of personal cassette players becoming smaller and actually compact.

      There were plenty more independent retailers knocking about and a few bargains to be had on some of the market stalls.....no ebay!
      Last edited by W1 Rover; 08-06-2021, 15:23.

      Comment


      • #4
        My memories of the early 1980s aren't that good as my memories seem to start around 1983 when I started Infant School, but there has been enough evidence from that era to make several observations on. In around 1981, there was the "1970s without the flares" concept - the 1970s had ended, but the mainstream 1980s as most people would associate it with had not yet started - I would say that 1983-1984 was when it actually started. Just like 1971 seemed to be the "1960s in colour", and 1991 was the "1980s without Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister". Obvious events from the early 1980s include Charles and Diana's Royal Wedding; Pope John Paul II visiting Britain; the assassination attempts on the Queen, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II; John Lennon's death; rioting in English cities, and Norman Tebbit telling young people to get on their bike in order to look for work.

        BBC 1 on Thursday evenings had two regular programmes which pinpoint life more than anything else back then: Top of the Pops and Tomorrow's World. The TOTP incumbents seem to be of the genre of Adam Ant, Shakin' Stevens; ABBA; Kim Wilde and others, while Tomorrow's World was an Opportunity Knocks for the Compact Disc, the Walkman and other gadgets. And of course, television changed so much what with the franchise round with ATV becoming Central and TVS replacing Southern, as well as the start of Channel 4 and Breakfast Television such as TV-am. Things changed a lot more from 1980 to 1985 rather than 1985 to 1990.

        I would choose the early 1980s compared to now - I wish that I had been born just after the end of the Second World War and so that I was in around my mid 30s in 1981 and enjoy life rather an be a pre-school child with very little memory of it. Life seemed to be more conservative (if not with a Capital C due to Thatcher), and the flares and all that went a couple of years previously - things being modernised and reformed at such a fast pace, and music, fashion and technology were three of those things that changed a lot - wear trousers or a shirt that you got from the John England catalogue two years previously and you would have stood out in the street if you walked down it. In addition to that, it did prove that you could have the best of both worlds - live modernised yet still keep traditional elements of life.

        At the same time, things were being modernised and that humanity was allowed to break out of its shell and move on towards the future - I believe that science fiction series such as Doctor Who, Star Wars and Buck Rogers were probably responsible for that, not to mention superheroes and characters lie that - the age of fantasy was very much alive and kicking which developed as the 1980s went along. Optimism was the keyword, leaving behind the embarrassment of the previous decade. Even the Milky Bar Kid abandoned his cowboy image to become a spaceman around this time as well!

        How many people (usually kids) used to pour the Kellogg's Corn Flakes into a bowl at 8.00 am on a weekday morning while listening to Mike Read on the radio in those "just before Breakfast Television" days, and Dad saying "get a move on or you'll be late for school"? A stereotypical British "first thing in the morning" scene in many early 1980s homes, mostly in the London area no doubt. The Pogo Patterson-era Grange Hill episodes provides a great philosophy of that era, no doubt.

        The 1980s were fascinating, even if one was a bit too young to enjoy them properly!

        I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
        There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
        I'm having so much fun
        My lucky number's one
        Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

        Comment


        • #5
          I have always thought of Political Correctness as being a late 1980s thing at the earliest rather than early 1980s - being more prominent during John Major's premiership. Was PC coined as early as the early 1980s? - I am certain that it wasn't used in Britain until around 1988.
          I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
          There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
          I'm having so much fun
          My lucky number's one
          Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by amethyst
            We didn't have binge drinking,I mean lads & lasses had a good time but not wrecked and clogging up A&E on the weekend
            Mmm, just me than?
            Ejector seat?...your jokin!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tex View Post

              Mmm, just me than?
              Yes, just you.
              I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
              There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
              I'm having so much fun
              My lucky number's one
              Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by amethyst

                was a pleasure to drive with more curtious drivers.
                Apart from drivers with trilby hats, and old ladies that seemed to be looking at the headlining when driving.
                never see them now thank god.

                still binge drank on weekends but never to the point of needing A and E.
                Drink driving was not as frowned upon , I never did but a few guys I knew did . A workmate had a brother in the local plod and was pulled over a few times, mentioned his brother and was let off, no questions.
                Another workmate was so hammered once (he told me) he had to pull over and throw up at the roadside.
                I served my apprenticeship in the early 80s near a busy rail yard and once I went into the local railway club at lunchtime. It was heaving with rail workers sitting at tables stacked with full pint glasses.

                Comment


                • #9
                  People also used to wear suits and ties to go shopping - I have seen photographs of men at least dressed like that taken by photographers around back then. Of course, they might have been on the way to or from work, or simply the fact that they had dressed for the occasion which still seemed to be the case, regarding making an extra effort, and I believe that some shops wouldn't even let them in past the front door unless they were dressed accordingly - very different from the "getting a bottle of milk at the local Tesco Express store while wearing pyjamas" thing from around ten years ago. One doesn't see that now. The days when Rumbelows and Rediffusion used to grace British High Streets.
                  I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                  There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                  I'm having so much fun
                  My lucky number's one
                  Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by W1 Rover View Post
                    There were plenty more independent retailers knocking about and a few bargains to be had on some of the market stalls.....no ebay!
                    Too right. It was a time when you could find independent Hi-Fi, car accessory, and DIY and hardware shops in every town along with more independent (and white British owned!) food shops.

                    There were fewer eateries as well. A choice of the local chippy or the Chinese takeaway. Eating out took place at pubs and hotels or 'British' style restaurants.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Richard1978
                      That's a bit naive if you consider the Brixton & Broadwater Farm riots happened, which shows how much progress has been made, or do you prefer whole neighbourhoods being trashed as it's the only way for minorities to get their voices heard?
                      The first riot was St. Pauls (Bristol) in April 1980. The Brixton riots took place a year later in April 1981. They were followed shortly by Toxteth (Liverpool), Chapeltown (Leeds), Moss Side (Manchester), and Handsworth (Birmingham) in July 1981.

                      My mother (who has studied politics and economics) found it intriguing, and worrying, that all of the riots were carried out by black Caribbean people, but not south Asian, Chinese, Arab / Middle East, or even black African people. No riots took place in areas with a high proportion of south Asians but few black Caribbeans – such as Bradford, Blackburn, Leicester, or Tower Hamlets despite significant levels of poverty and racism there. The only notable exception was the Southall riot of April 1979, but that was caused by the National Front deciding to hold an election meeting in the town hall.

                      My mother mentioned this phenomenon of the riots being confined to one specific ethnic group a few times during debates in PHSE and RS lessons at secondary school, which raised questions whether they really were a result of poverty and racism, or whether it was the result of some deeper reason endemic to the black Caribbean community that was not prevalent within other ethnic minority communities.

                      A particular cause for concern was the way that the race relations community used the term (political) black to describe all ethnic minorities during the 1980s. I have previously mentioned this:

                      https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...lack-community

                      It had the effect of obscuring the differences between different ethnic and religious groups, resulting in much confusion and the difficulties in addressing the needs of particular communities.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                        In around 1981, there was the "1970s without the flares" concept - the 1970s had ended, but the mainstream 1980s as most people would associate it with had not yet started - I would say that 1983-1984 was when it actually started.
                        There is definitely some truth to this. The Conservative government got off to a slow start policy wise. In their first term they just tinkered around here and there with very little in the way of any radical changes. There was even pressure for Margaret Thatcher to resign as PM from her own party for not being proactive enough. It was only after the 1983 general election did their economic reforms go into action, and the 80s really start.

                        Digital technology was starting to enter the mainstream during the early 1980s with home and school computers, along with concerns that computers in offices and factories will further add to the already rising level of unemployment, but it only came into full force after the 1983 general election.

                        The video recorder boom also took place during this time and video shops popped up on every street.

                        British Leyland made bad cars. The Mk2 Vauxhall Cavalier became one of the most popular company cars and demolished the idea that fleet buyers would only buy RWD cars, ultimately leading to the demise of Morris as a division in BL.





                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The banks were in the process of installing cash machines. If a bank did not have a cash machine then customers could only withdraw cash when the bank was open.

                          Some banks charged customers who withdrew or deposited cash at a different branch of the same bank.

                          Cash payments were far more common in the 1980s than they are now. Hundreds of thousands of workers were even paid their wages in cash in brown envelopes.

                          The introduction of the 20p and 1 coins, and the withdrawal of the 1/2p coin. Currency wasn't fully decimal as shillings and florins were still in circulation with the values of 5p and 10p respectively.

                          The last commemoration crowns with a face value of 25p were issued in 1981 for Charles and Diana's wedding. Subsequent commemoration coins have a face value of 5.

                          People paid for things in shops with cheques. Debit cards did not exist until 1987.

                          Shops and other places that accepted credit cards often advertised it with huge Access and Visa signs. A wax rubbing was made of the card, then at the end of the day the slips would be posted to the credit card company for processing.

                          https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...bbing-machines

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Arran View Post

                            There is definitely some truth to this. The Conservative government got off to a slow start policy wise. In their first term they just tinkered around here and there with very little in the way of any radical changes. There was even pressure for Margaret Thatcher to resign as PM from her own party for not being proactive enough. It was only after the 1983 general election did their economic reforms go into action, and the 80s really start.

                            Digital technology was starting to enter the mainstream during the early 1980s with home and school computers, along with concerns that computers in offices and factories will further add to the already rising level of unemployment, but it only came into full force after the 1983 general election.

                            The video recorder boom also took place during this time and video shops popped up on every street.

                            British Leyland made bad cars. The Mk2 Vauxhall Cavalier became one of the most popular company cars and demolished the idea that fleet buyers would only buy RWD cars, ultimately leading to the demise of Morris as a division in BL.
                            Certainly by the mid 1980s game shows like Play Your Cards Right and 3-2-1 were offering home computers as prizes, of course a whole decade away from the internet, and the latter was even offering a satellite TV system with a dish so big that it made the TV set look tiny in comparison.

                            I know that TV rental shops were still around at the end of the 1980s as my family were late in getting a VCR (in 1989) and the very first videotape that we used was a Granada Rental brand.
                            I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                            There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                            I'm having so much fun
                            My lucky number's one
                            Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by George 1978 View Post

                              Yes, just you.
                              Here's the thing George, I'm a Salford lad born and bred and after 62 years i'm still living in Salford now, getting hammered was a right of passage as it was in many northern towns.I never once ended up in A&E but i had a bloody good time avoiding it, with maturity comes wisdom but at least i can say i made some memories.
                              Ejector seat?...your jokin!

                              Comment

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