Tuesday, 5 May 2009

When Man 2 Man met Man Parrish

There’s just over half the year left before a new decade dawns - seven months to enjoy the last of those 1980s revivals we all thought would have given up and gone away by 2003. As it would be, even by modern standards, a bit much to go on celebrating the ‘80s for longer than they actually lasted in the first place, so retro festivities will be officially wound up on New Year’s Eve, before ‘90s nostalgia is inaugurated by Toby Anstis and Guru Josh on January 1st, 2010. In the meantime, here’s a handy social calendar of those revivals still to come.

Music channels receive a shot in the arm in June when scratch video makes a comeback. The forgotten craft of taking some old black and white film and cutting it up so the little men go backwards and forwards very quickly is lovingly revived by a new generation of artisans. All comedy programmes beginning in September feature at least one clip of Ronald Reagan going 'Look buster, b-bus-b-bus buster!' Classier broadcasts overlay all this with some abstract animated magenta triangles. The revival is deemed 'played out' when the Queen's Christmas Day speech is presented by HM sat on the floor in front of a bank of TV monitors, before the picture folds up into the rough shape of a saxophone and bounces around the screen for slightly too long to be interesting.

As the long hot summer (citation needed) rolls on, Saturday afternoons see the return of British wrestling. Not the glory years of Kendo Nagasaki and Jackie Pallo in the '60s, but the early 1980s fag-end, when Big Daddy had become more interested in appearing on the cover of the Buster summer special than giving the Kids his perfunctory two minute 'splashdown' appearance in the ring, and promoters looked to the third division likes of 'Cyanide' Sid Cooper and 'Gaylord' Steve Peacock to make up the tag team numbers. Panorama makes three earnest documentaries in a row suspecting that the matches might possibly be fixed. All bouts to be held in the Civic Centre, Aylesbury.

After what all pundits agree was A Bad Summer for Pork, the autumn sees the airwaves packed with old-style meat awareness advertisements. Shane Ritchie, Phil Daniels and Shaun Williamson (the amusingly tubby one on the end) line up for a series of cockney oompah hip-hop numbers where they burst into an undernourished wedding reception catered by militant vegans and demand the installation of a big plate of British pork, which has, of course, 'still got the lot'. All colours and creeds are whimsically represented in the commercials, including a sneezing Mexican in a big sombrero who's amusingly bundled out of the door by a nervous-looking Ritchie in a face mask. The trend catches fire in October, with the 'Do-It-All Three' reunited for a string of sell-out gigs, John Barrowman appearing in Very Very Tasty, a musical based on the Kellogg's Bran Flakes campaign, and Lily Allen tipped for the Christmas number one with her plaintive and moving interpretation of Laughing All the Way to the Leeds (Recession Edit).

By mid-October revivals are appearing so thick and fast there isn't the time to do many of them properly, so dozens get swept under the carpet, including: a line of designer paint-splattered Doc Martens launched by Paul King; 'sassy' girls from South London having about two cheeky pop-rap hits about snogging and then vanishing forever; chunky knitwear for men who know a lot about computers; The Mac Band featuring the McCampbell Brothers; song titles with more than one set of brackets in them; Trimphone impersonators; monogrammed pound coin holders; power ballads sung by women with their eyes screwed shut sat on a plinth in a completely empty white room in front of net curtains billowing through a set of open French windows; jokes about Channel Tunnel diggers surfacing in Catford by accident; Belouis Some.

November, and '80s nostalgia really nears the bottom of the barrel with the revival of '80s-style '50s nostalgia, as interpreted by advertising agencies at their yappy, annoying worst. So it's Day-Glo pink frocks and outsize beehives for the women; massive, American football player-style cardboard zoot suits and two-foot quiffs for the men. Somewhere along the line the two decades become hopelessly confused, and a generation of history pupils grow up convinced that the 1950s was full of cheery song-and-dance numbers set around a pink cardboard Cadillac about instant tea, the Brook Street job agency and going down to the Shell garage to get a scotch egg. Chris Moyles launches The Golden Oldie YouTube Channel which nobody visits.

Midnight, December 31st: Someone, somewhere, listens to Camouflage by Stan Ridgway and smiles a small smile to themselves.

No comments: