Alluring appeal of vinyl echoes glory days of the charts

Granted, it is certainly not considered as vital as it was 25 years ago. Back then we all sat glued to BBC Radio One on a Sunday evening – taping, yes taping (on a cassette), the top 10 – while Top Of The Pops was required viewing.

However, this week the Official UK Singles Chart celebrates its 60th anniversary which gave me an excuse to dig out some of my vinyl collection.

Not that I need much prompting.

The way we buy music these days has rendered the chart almost irrelevant but the grand old list – which first appeared in the pages of the New Musical Express (NME) on November 14, 1952 – continues.

It was the NME’s Percy Dickens who came up with the idea of a UK singles chart – based on the American Billboard listings.

He persuaded 52 record stores to report their sales figures and Al Martino’s ‘Here In My Heart’, a favourite of my nan and grandad as I recall, stole the top spot.

It’s difficult to explain to anyone who has grown up with CDs or the internet what we’ve lost in recent years now that the downloading of music is de rigueur.

But when I was growing up in the Eighties the UK singles chart was crucial – going in hand-in-hand with regular visits to Lotus Records or Mike Lloyd Music up Hanley.

In 2012 you can have a fantastic collection of music on a device the size of a mobile telephone.

But it can never beat that feeling of purchasing a record, admiring the artwork, reading the notes on the sleeve, and sticking it on a turntable to hear that unmistakable crackling before the music kicks in.

I still have all my singles. My first purchases were a real mixed bag – reflecting no particular musical style or taste.

They include, in no particular order: Status Quo’s Marguerita Time; Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a place on Earth; Slade’s My Oh My; Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl; and the Auf Wiedersehen Pet theme.

Once I got to college, however, I fell in with a crowd of rock music fans and my music collection became devoted to U.S. bands Bon Jovi, Guns n’ Roses, Poison, Whitesnake, Aerosmith.

Jovi were, and still are, my favourite band – and my record collection reflects that.

I began attending record fayres at places like the YMCA in Hanley and saving up to buy singles I didn’t have.

These included limited editions, picture discs, posterbags, gatefold sleeves, and singles including foil stickers and backstage passes – as well as imports from places like the U.S., Germany, Holland and Japan.

I 1989 I remember paying £20 for the Bon Jovi single Runaway, released in 1984. That was an awful lot of money to me back then.

And digging out the UK limited edition issue of Wanted Dead Or Alive, complete with silver foil stickers still in mint condition, still gives me a thrill.

My record collection became a great source of pride – something to show my mates – just like a complete Panini sticker album.

It’s not quite the same with a virtual record collection that exists only on an iPod or some such thing.

That’s perhaps why many people under the age of 30 view their music collection as something they can access rather than something they actually own.

The dominance of CDs was relatively short-lived and vinyl collectors like myself will point to the artwork and packaging of singles and albums which, in terms of their desirability, were often as important as the musical content of a purchase.

I’ve got many more albums on vinyl than I have singles but my singles collection reminds me of a time when the charts still mattered and when millions still paid attention to them.

Which brings me to my main Christmas present request this this year: A new record player, of course.

Pick up the Weekend Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia

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Homes are still where the heart is for estate agent Roger

England had a World Cup-winning football team when Roger Follwell took his first steps towards a career in the property business.
Forty six years later and he is still enjoying his work and took time out to share his thoughts on the industry that has been his bread and butter and is now firmly a family affair for the 65-year-old.
Penkhull-born Roger started out by completing a five-year correspondence course with Louis Taylor in 1966.
In 1971, as a Chartered Surveyor, he began work as an associate partner with estate agency Henry Steele & Sons in the Mother Town.
He remained with the firm until it was bought out by Nationwide and, after working for the building society for a couple of years, went on to set up the company bearing his name in 1991.
Roger didn’t have to go solo. Indeed, he was offered a job with Nationwide in Nantwich but decided to stay in his native North Staffordshire – a patch he knew very well. It was a brave decision.
Roger said: “People think it’s tough now but they have short memories. It was very slow going for me at first back in the early Nineties, for example, because interest rates were at 14 or 15 per cent. Yes, it’s a difficult market now but I don’t think it is as bad as it was in 2008 when the tap was simply turned off and people just couldn’t get mortgages. We’re still selling properties and, if people are prepared to accept a low offer for their property then they can often put themselves into a good position to negotiate a decent price for the home they want.”
Of course, things are very different now than they were in the Seventies and Eighties when Roger was first making a name for himself in the business.
He said: “Back then I remember building societies would visit major employers such as Royal Doulton and Michelin and outline mortgage offers to first-time buyers.
“We would sell lots of properties in the Middleport area, for example, but many of those streets have now been demolished. A lot of the properties had become rented and sadly deteriorated over the years through lack of care.
“In the early Eighties you could pick up a mid-terrace property in Burslem for £3,500. Towards the end of the decade they were selling for between £5,000 and £7,000 – with similar properties in areas like the Westlands in Newcastle were selling for between £10,000 and £15,000. Then, of course, there was the huge explosion in property prices and that’s when building societies began buying up estate agencies left, right and centre.”
The internet had made a huge difference to Roger’s industry but he believes there are some things technology will never replace.
He said: “It’s great to be able to have all that information about properties and postcodes at your fingertips but, when it comes down to it, people want to sit down and talk things through because buying a home is a big deal.
“That’s where 40 years of experience and local knowledge comes in handy.”
Roger now employs a dozen staff at Follwell’s three offices in Stone, Market Drayton, and the Ironmarket in Newcastle and has enjoyed watching his sons Tom and John settle into the family business.
I asked him what would be the one piece of advice he would give to first-time buyers these days.
Roger said: “I would advise them to look for a modest, mid-terrace property in an area that still has good community spirit. You can still find those neighbourhoods – even though certain areas have been over-developed. I think North Staffordshire is a great place. I’m certainly very proud of it. I think that sometimes it takes a knocking but that’s mostly from outsiders. As I sit here in our offices overlooking the Queen’s Gardens I can’t help but feel lucky to be here.”

A warm welcome and fond memories of my first trip to States

It was with a mixture of fear and trepidation that I boarded American Airlines flight 55 from Manchester to Chicago. I had never travelled abroad on my own before and I had never been to America.

I passed the eight-hour flight chatting to Ollie, a second-year medical student at Keele University who told me he was visiting his girlfriend in Tennessee.

Tennessee? How things have changed. The furthest away any girlfriend of mine had ever lived was Tunstall.

Stepping off the plane at Chicago O’Hare was a daunting experience.

I had just over an hour to collect my luggage and catch a connecting flight to Indianapolis.

Of course, I hadn’t realised that O’Hare is the fourth busiest airport in the world and handles more than 66 million passengers each year.

The sheer size of it was what hit me – something which would be a recurring theme during my time in the States.

As I arrived at immigration a stern-looking bloke who was the spit of Poncherello out of CHiPs! (how are you on your Eighties TV trivia?) asked me whether my visit to the U.S. was for business or pleasure.

“Pleasure,” I replied.

“And what’s your pleasure?” he asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow.

“Playing Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu,” I replied, with utter sincerity.

“Oh,” said Poncherello.

Nothing quite ends a conversation like telling someone you’re attending a games convention.

It was sod’s law that my plane to Indy would be delayed but nothing could diminish my enthusiasm.

As I waited by the departure gate, soaking in the sights and sounds, a woman sat next to me, leaned over and said: “Excuse me. Would you like a hamburger?”

As chat-up lines go, it was a new one on me.

“I don’t know why but they gave me two,” she added – motioning inside a McDonald’s paper bag.

Well it would have been rude to refuse and for the next hour and a half I chatted to Pam – a 59-year-old psychologist.

She was so friendly and so interested in everything from the royal family and the Titanic to the Olympics that I actually enjoyed being delayed.

By the time we boarded the plane we had swapped business cards and she had invited me and my family to her farm in Nebraska where she and her husband breed horses.

That has certainly never happened to me while waiting for a PMT bus up Hanley.

Pam sort of set the tone, really. Almost everyone I met – with the notable exception of Poncherello (who, to be fair, is paid to be miserable) – was incredibly friendly. People of the south of England, please take note…

Take, for example, Herschel – my 70-year-old taxi driver.

He brought me up to speed on the trials and tribulations of the Indianapolis Colts American Football team and gave me the heads-up on their new quarterback.

This was to come in handy the next day when I toured the impressive Lucas Oil Stadium – the 63,000 seater home of the Colts which comes complete with a retractable roof and artificial turf.

I learned that the Colts had only won two games last year and their fans had endured a torrid time.

As a Vale fan I could empathise and I adopted the Colts there and then.

That is where any similarities between the Hoosier state’s finest and the Valiants ended, however.

In light of their terrible season, the Colts were given the first NFL ‘draft’ pick this year – allowing them to choose from the cream of the crop of young players coming out of colleges and universities.

As a result, they picked up Andrew Luck – the best young quarter back in the country – for nowt, on account of how bad they were last season.

It’s the equivalent of the worst team in the Premier League being given first dibs on the best teenage footballer in England – irrespective of how much money Manchester City or Chelsea wave in his direction. Can you imagine?

Having ticked off a top-flight football stadium, a visit to a genuine diner was next on my list.

I finally settled for Johnny Rockets and enjoyed chilli beef sandwiches and a strawberry milkshake at the bar while throwing money into my own personal five cent jukebox.

Eat your heart out, Fonzie.

It was while walking around Indy that I realised that everything in the U.S. is BIG – from the blocks and the skyscrapers to the vehicles.

I was told that Indianapolis is a relatively modest, mid-western U.S. city, so Lord only knows what the really big ones are like.

Then there are the people.

We think we have an obesity problem over here but I can tell you it is nothing compared to the epidemic America is facing.

I was genuinely gobsmacked at the sheer girth of some of the folks waddling down the street and how many of the people were grossly overweight. It made me think long and hard about portion-sizes and the kinds of food I shovel down.

Not that I had much time to eat.

I had booked myself in for four solid days at Gen Con – the world’s largest gaming convention – showcasing tabletop games, board games, card and computer games.

Yours truly and 40,000-plus other geeks met authors, game-designers and artists, play-tested new games and took part in competitions.

I actually won the blue riband event – the Cthulhu Masters tournament – a horror roleplaying game based on the writings of American author H.P. Lovecraft.

It was a special moment and the perfect end to my first Gen Con Indy. I was taking home a trophy which had never before left the U.S.

Yours truly being presented with the Cthulhu Masters brain case trophy at Gen Con 2012.

Yours truly being presented with the Cthulhu Masters brain case trophy at Gen Con 2012.

When I arrived at customs at Indianapolis airport I wondered how I would explain the large, heavy rubber-plastic brain I was carrying in my hand luggage to the nice men with guns.

Sure enough, when my backpack went through the scanner one of them said: “Sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to step this way. You have something organic in your luggage. Can you tell me what it is?”

“It’s my trophy for winning the Cthulhu Masters tournament at Gen Con,” I replied, nervously.

The customs man gingerly removed the brain case from my rucksack. “Joe, come look at this!” he shouted, beckoning his buddy over.

He then turned to me and exclaimed: “Dude, that is awesome!”

“I know,” I said, with a very relieved smile.

Read my Personally Speaking columns every Tuesday in The Sentinel

A golden decade for Team GB’s Olympic athletes

Believe it or not there was a time when people in the UK could choose whether or not they wanted to watch the Olympic Games.
It was a more innocent age when not being interested in handball, beach volleyball and synchronised diving wasn’t punishable by incarceration in the Tower of London.
It was a time when seeing Olympic athletes perform on telly in glorious colour was a relative novelty and BBC employees had the freedom to criticise stuff as they saw fit.
It was a period when we weren’t brow-beaten into repeating the mantra that sports we’ve never heard of are all wonderful and exciting just because it has almost bankrupt the nation to stage an Olympics.
That decade was the 1980s when colour TVs which were becoming a fixture in most homes turned some British Olympians into household names.
The Moscow summer Olympics of 1980 was the games that made baldness cool as swimmer Duncan Goodhew scooped gold in the 100m breaststroke and bronze in the 4x100m medley relay.
At the same games, which was boycotted by many countries including the U.S., Japan, China and West Germany because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, Scottish sprinter Allan Wells won gold in the 100 metres in a photo finish. He was pipped to silver in the 200m by just 0.2 seconds.
It was in Moscow that decathlete Daley Thompson announced his arrival on the world stage by taking top spot on the podium – a feat he then repeated four years later in Los Angeles.
The 1980 games saw current London 2012 supremo Lord Sebastian Coe, beaten into second place by his great rival Steve Ovett in the 800 metres – his speciality.
However, Seb hit back in the 1500m race to take gold, while Ovett had to settle for bronze. Coe replicated his achievements over both distances at the next Olympics in LA.
Those games in the City of Angels marked another golden period for British athletics when Tyneside’s Steve Cram – the ‘Jarrow Arrow’ – completed a one, two, three for us when he nabbed the silver in that infamous 1500 metres.
It was a race which was so thrilling that even I, a 12-year-old asthmatic and the laughing stock of Holden Lane High’s cross country course, was enthralled.
That year also saw Tessa Sanderson become the first black British woman win gold in the javelin. She went on to represent Britain at no less than six Olympics.
Meanwhile, her close rival Fatima Whitbread, whose personal story of triumph over adversity was as inspirational a tale as you could hear in sport, won hearts and minds when she scooped bronze at LA and followed this up with a silver medal four years later in Seoul.
Hockey forward Sean Kerly sealed a bronze medal for the GB men’s team with his winner against Australia in the Los Angeles games and went on to be the Aussie’s bogeyman again in 1988 when he scored a hat-trick against them in the semi-final.
Believe it or not, 1984 was the year that a young Steve Redgrave won the first of his five Olympic gold medals for rowing.
Little did we know back then that he would go on to become Britain’s greatest ever Olympian.
Swimmer Adrian Moorhouse had been expected to win gold in LA in the breaststroke but finished a disappointing fourth. Happily he made up for it four years later by winning gold in the 100m race.
My final Eighties Olympic household name will be no stranger to Sentinel readers.
Former policeman and Cobridge newsagent Imran Sherwani scored two goals and set up the third in Team GB’s demolition of West Germany in the final at Seoul.
It prompted one of the best bits of Olympics commentary ever by the BBC’s Barry Davies whose enthusiasm led him to ask the question: “Where were the Germans? And, frankly, who cares?”
All in all the Eighties was a great Olympic decade for Britain – before the time when the games themselves became the huge corporate monster that they are today.

Boy racers, super-cars… and THAT invention


For a teenager in 2011, passing his or her driving test is the least of their problems.

Even if they can take off the L plates the chances are they won’t be able to afford the insurance to enable them to drive because it will resemble a telephone number more than a quote.

This wasn’t always the case, however. Back in the Eighties, insuring your little runaround for a few hundred quid put millions of us on the road to motoring independence.

For yours truly it was a case of making do with a canary yellow Austin Metro. I kid you not. (At least the stereo was decent – graphic equaliser I’ll have you know).

My car may not have had the cool of David Hasslehoff’s black Pontiac Trans Am or packed the punch of Michael J. Fox’s silver Delorean time machine but then again I was only driving from Sneyd Green to Norton.

For many of us, the likes of the Nissan Micra – the car I learned in – were an essential tool to get us from A to B.

But for others, their cars became an obsession – a source of immense pride and a toy in a game of one-upmanship with like-minded mates.

For such people the decade of decadence equalled spoilers, body kits, suspension modifications, tinted windows and alloy wheels.

They were the boy racers and the Eighties was made for them.

I can still recall one such group – the engines of their Ford Escort XR3is purring outside the kebab shop in Glass Street, Hanley, (boy racer alley, as we knew it) after nightclub closing time.

It seems I’m not the only one who immediately associates Eighties cars with this phenomenon, either.

John Swift worked for The Sentinel for 16 years and for much of that time was this newspaper’s motoring correspondent – scooping the Guild of Motor Writers’ Regional Journalist Of The Year Award no less than five times.

His dad ran Byatt’s car dealership in Victoria Road, Fenton, and had raced Jaguar sports cars in the Fifties.

No wonder John became a passionate and knowledgeable ‘petrol head’, I think the phrase is these days.

I asked John what immediately springs to mind with regard to motoring when someone says the Eighties to him.

He said: “It was the decade of boy racers. It was a case of ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ – and that applied to cars too.

“In many ways the 1950s can be considered the halcyon days on the bike industry because, back then, people couldn’t afford cars. It was a case of walk, catch the bus – or buy a bike or scooter.

“By the Eighties cars were far more affordable and manufacturers began targeting younger drivers.

“The problem was, however, that there were almost as many crashes as there was suped-up cars – basically because these young people didn’t have the skills or experience to handle the vehicles they were driving.”

Understandably, insurance companies got fed up of shelling out for these accidents and that’s one of the reasons why new drivers these days are facing such astronomical premiums.

John’s answer? A graduated driving licence which restricts young people to learn and then drive less powerful motor cars – which their limited skills and experience can cope with – before they progress to more powerful motors.

Of course, there was more to motoring in the Eighties than white baseball caps and sound systems which made your ears bleed.

Who could forget the infamous Sinclair C5 electric car which was set to revolutionise urban transport?

In the end it became the subject of ridicule and was a commercial disaster – not least because it asked drivers whose heads were at the height of a lorry’s wheel nuts to take their life, literally, in their hands.

The C5 aside, many of the vehicles from the Eighties were firm family favourites and first loves of drivers which have more than stood the test of time.

Such motors included the Peugeot 205, which John describes as “a fantastic little car” and earned the title ‘Car Of The Decade’ from Car Magazine in 1990.

But beyond the reach of most mortals were the super cars – so expensive that the only time many of us ever saw them was on telly or being driven by a City boy wearing red braces.

These included the Lotus Esprit, the Porsche 911 and the fearsome Ferrari Testarossa which John had the pleasure of test driving.

He said: “I remember it was pretty quick. The styling was certainly of its time – very bold and really made a statement.”

For the record, John’s first car in the mid-Eighties was a B reg Vauxhall Nova and he can still remember the number plate.

He is equally nostalgic about his favourite car of the decade – the Ferrari 328 GTB

John said: “I remember it very fondly because it was the first time I’d ever driven a Ferrari.

“I took it on one of my test routes – along the A34 towards Stone, up Bury Bank and towards Eccleshall. It was fabulous.”

I asked John to gaze into his crystal ball and tell us what motoring in the UK might look like in another quarter of a century.

He said: “The old combustion engine still has a lot to offer in terms of its development potential. However, the manufacturers now have a real incentive to try to produce vehicles that run on alternative sources of fuel.

“There have been many years of unrestricted growth in car usage and I expect this to change.

“I think we will see a lot more battery-powered cars and hybrids.

“If more roads are built I expect them to be toll roads as we attempt to create workable public transport systems.”

Pick up a copy of the Weekend Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia

Forget downloads: I remember when music still mattered

The government has announced a major shake-up of copyright laws.
Finally, the Digital Econony Act will make it legal to copy music and films to a computer, iPod or similar device.
It won’t affect me one bit, of course, and I dare say I’m not alone.
I have never downloaded a tune or a movie and I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I am a complete techno-phobe. I resisted email like an absolute Luddite. I don’t have an iPod or an iPad for that matter. My mobile telephone is basic, to say the least.
I can barely set the video (sorry) DVD recorder – which is just the way I like it, to be honest.
Back in July 2006 I said goodbye to an old friend – someone many of us grew up with.
After 42 years Top Of The Pops (TOTP) disappeared from our TV screens with little more than a whimper.
Ratings had been on the slide for some time and what killed TOTP wasn’t the advent of the compact disc.
It wasn’t even the sparklingly charismatic presenting duo of Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates. No, honestly, it wasn’t.
What did for TOTP in the end was the internet which meant that people were finding new ways to access the music they liked.
Suddenly, the charts didn’t matter anymore.
Not only could people download albums and singles by their favourite artists but websites which gave new acts the chance to shine were springing up all over the place.
Performers whose music had only ever been heard via the internet became overnight sensations.
Without such websites like MySpace then artists like the Arctic Monkey and Lily Allen would perhaps never have been discovered.
Even so, I reckon the internet has actually done more damage than good to the music industry.
Apart from anything else, I can never forgive it for putting the final nail in the coffin of the charts.
I can’t be the only one who misses their weekly fix of movers and new entries.
Surely I’m not alone in wishing that the old-fashioned way of monitoring the music scene was still available.
In its halcyon days TOTP had more than 15 million viewers on a Thursday night.
We got to watch our favourite bands perform (sometimes they weren’t even miming) and experience the cultural melting pot of musical tastes.
Where else could you get Duran Duran, the Pet Shop Boys, Bananarama, Cliff Richard and Bon Jovi in half an hour?
Back in the day we all knew what was number one in the singles chart. How many of us can say the same now?
Not many, because the truth is no-one cares anymore.
If you ask me there is something desperately sad about the fact that there are now generations who have only ever known music via downloads.
Getting your music from the ether strikes me as a pretty soulless affair.
Never mind social networking: How can it possibly compare to the shared experience of watching TOTP then nipping up Hanley with your mates at the weekend to scour through the racks for the tracks you wanted?
I have friends with tens of thousands of songs on their iPod but I would never swap their hi-tech for my vinyl collection.
Just think of all the fantastic album covers you’ve got tucked away in a cupboard somewhere.
Each one is a work of art – complete with sleeve notes, photographs and lyrics.
The other night I watched a TOTP2 Eighties special.
It included such gems as a live performance of I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston, poodle-haired Scandinavians Europe rockin’ out to The Final Countdown and T’Pau’s China In Your Hands.
But it was the last song which took me back to a time and a place which is special to me.
The track, from 1988, was The Only Way Is Up by Yazz and The Plastic Population.
Having watched that original episode of TOTP I then recalled dancing to the song with my Port Vale fan mates in Regime’s nightclub – with the chorus doctored to ‘the Vale are going up, baby, Division Two now’.
Not that original, granted, but the memory has stuck with me all the same.
Yes, downloads may be the present and the future, but I think I’ll stick with my vinyl and the occasional trip down memory lane with TOTP2 to a time when music still mattered.

The Eighties is the decade most of us remember fondly

The original Now That's What I Call Music album.

The original Now That’s What I Call Music album.

Sunday, December 25, 1983. Christmas Day. That’s when I officially fell in love with the Eighties.

I sat in my bedroom marvelling at my brand new copy of the original Now That’s What I Call Music album, my shiny new record player and the sturdy black singles box containing my first 45s.

I’ve still got that album and all the seven inches – Status Quo’s Margeurita Time, Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat, and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl, among others.

That day I played them from the moment we’d finished the turkey until I was ordered to bed.

Suddenly, at the age of 11, I realised music wasn’t the sole preserve of my parents.

Apparently, there was more to life than Elvis and Roy Orbison – despite years of brainwashing by my mum.

Money saved from my Sentinel paper round was soon being spent on singles and albums.

I walked up to Hanley on Saturdays and bought everything from Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran to Bruce Springsteen and the mighty Bon Jovi.

Through music I discovered that girls weren’t just things to make you flush red if they looked at you in class or, heaven forbid, spoke to you at break time.

I took umbrage with Michael J Fox because a certain girl in the top class at Holden Lane High called him ‘dreamy’ after watching Back To The Future.

I was mesmerised when Kim Wilde or Belinda Carlisle came on the telly – and fell hopelessly in love with Susannah Hoffs from The Bangles.

I am delighted to say that while the Eighties may be the ‘decade that taste forgot’ it is also the decade that has stubbornly refused to go away.

Of course, it helps that my generation of 30 and 40-somethings are now in control of so many TV remotes and perhaps have the most disposable income.

But it is a fact that, for some time now, there has been a genuine appetite for 1980s nostalgia.
An internet campaign brought the Wispa chocolate bar back from the dead.

Monster Munch crisps have been relaunched.

Hit 80s TV shows like Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard have, sadly, been turned into big-budget movies.

What’s more, you can’t move for Eighties bands and singers hitting the road again to relive past glories.

People like Rick Astley, Bananarama, Midge Ure and, er… Kim Wilde (blush), who all performed at Alton Towers’ 30th birthday party at the weekend.

We lap it up because of music’s wonderful talent for forcing us to don rose-tinted Ray-Bans and reminding us of a special time in our lives.

When my sister-in-law celebrated her 40th birthday earlier this year it has to be said that the highlight of her raucous party weekend was the 1980s music.

I danced – I use that term loosely – until 3am and, as I lay in bed that night it occurred to me that I couldn’t see children of the Nineties or Noughties yearning for their formative years with quite the same enthusiasm.

For some, the Eighties was a grim decade of industrial unrest, high unemployment, terrible hair and worse clothing.

But, to me, as a child growing up in the Potteries, it is a decade that will always be golden – a time of great certainties, household names and sunny optimism.

In the Eighties, our milk man delivered bottles of pop in a variety of radioactive colours and the ‘outdoor’ at the top of our road sold Black Jacks and Fruit Salad sweets for half a pence.

Royal Doulton and Wedgwood seemed like immortal employers and a job on ‘the Mich’ (Michelin) was a job for life.

It was a time when Hanley still had family businesses like Bratt and Dyke where I could spend hours just mooching around.

It was the decade when the Boothen End proper at the Old Victoria still roared its defiance and when a certain bloke with a flat cap took over the reins at Vale Park – promising nothing and delivering the best era in my football club’s history.

It was a time when this newspaper still produced the much-anticipated Football Final on Saturdays.

It was also the decade of the Garden Festival that transformed 180 acres of derelict land in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent into the thriving retail and business park we all now take for granted.

Yes, the Eighties may well be ‘the decade that taste forgot’.

It’s also the decade that I, and I suspect many others, are most happy remembering.