Archive for March, 2016

Did people actually wear these things?

March 16, 2016

I fear they did.  The 1970s was, after all, “the decade that fashion forgot”.

Except, it wasn’t.  It was more like, “the decade that fashion forgot that clothes should not be principally hilarious.”

By which I mean, look around you. There is relatively little in how people dress now that in twenty years’ time will provoke amused head shaking.  OK, I’m not including here the fashion for young men to wear suits at least two sizes too small.  Whose idea was that?  Snug-Fitting I can understand.  Can’t wear, but I can understand.  Snug fits have been a standard option since Paul Smith first started making suits that stood out in the big, boxy 80s.  But even Paul Smith suits had sleeves that came past your wrist and trousers that touched the tops of your shoes.

So, yeah.  Teeny-tiny suits on fully grown men is ridiculous, and we’ll laugh in a few years.

And wearing jeans below your buttocks so that everyone can see your underwear?  That’s dying out, surely?  (“Yeah, grandad, sheesh…”)

And dressing up as a Yukon lumberjack with a massive beard, like some kid doing Call Of The Wild for World Book Day?  That’s gotta provoke amusement before long.

Oh, and ripped jeans.  That’s weird, but they’ve been around for years and don’t look like they’re going anywhere. Or maybe they’ve been and gone and returned and I just haven’t noticed.  It’s possible.  Probable, even.

Anyway, all that notwithstanding, the nineteen seventies were especially silly, and this collection of pictures that I have collated amply proves it.


First up, the Eleganza ad (left) “Things happen when you were Eleganza” says the ad copy. Like being accidentally cast as an extra in a low-budget TV space opera?  I know we all joke about outsize collars being fashionable in the 1970s, but really?  That is a designer’s joke, surely?  One that he never expected to get away with.








So Eleganza may not be a name you have heard of, but Wrangler (above) surely is, and I LOVE this ad for the marvellously-named “Wranglers Wrelaters”, handily marked with a “TM” by the brand name, like anyone’s going to nick it.  I love, too, their line: “Now you can have perfectly color-wrelated clothes – even if you’re color-blind.”  Why bring up colour-blindness?  Did someone mention it?  They should have.  Best of all is the last line: “Wremember the W is silent.”  What?  How else can you say it?  Do they honestly think that, without that reminder, people will be trying to pronounce the W?  I’ve tried.  I sound like Frank Muir doing an impression of Jonathon Ross.

Finally, for today (because I’ve got more!): my favourite.  I’m not sure which bit of this33-1970fashion-thingslife

page I like best.  Is it the guy on the right who looks very pissed off (and who can blame him) even though he’s holding what appears to be a CD long before CDs were invented.

No, it has to be the three fellas on the left.  Do you remember that ad  a few years ago for Dove soap, when they got women of all shapes and sizes posing in their underwear as a “celebration of real women”?  Not such a new idea, was it?  This is what it would look like if me and my mates Olly and Dave became underwear models.

What happened here, really?  Did the models not turn up?  I think they were delayed by a 1970s three-day-week transport strike, so the photographer said to three lads from the factory floor, “OK boys – you’ll do,”?



Mysterious object in the mail

March 12, 2016

IMG_9339This arrived this morning.

It’s a self-assembly mini-drone, so far as I can tell.  There was no sender, no return address, no instructions.

All I can tell is that

1.  It was sent by Swiss Post

2. The sender’s signature is printed as YANWEN which appears to be a Chinese shipping company

3.  There’s a barcode and an order number, but the YANWEN website doesn’t recognise it.

What can it all mean?

Park Hotel, Tynemouth – a sad decline

March 7, 2016

PC-The-Park-Hotel-Tynemouth-LAll right, all right.  I should have known.  I’ve driven past it plenty of times to have noticed its decline.  It’s just that I haven’t actually been in it for ages, decades, probably.

So when it came to booking a Mothering Sunday lunch, and all the first choices were full, the Park Hotel, Tynemouth didn’t sound so bad.  Like I say: I should have known.

It has stood overlooking the Long Sands since 1939, an art deco masterpiece in white stucco, with a distinctive maritime aspect.

Along with its rival, the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth, is was the local posh place.  My parents had their wedding reception there in 1952.  So did my sister in 1977.  It was the scene of family treats throughout my childhood.  It’s the only place I’ve ever had crepe suzette flambeed at my table.  I was probably about 12.

Crepe suzette, steak Dianne, chicken chasseur, black forest gateau from the trolley…all those fabulous 1970s dishes were on the menu of the Park, the dining room overseen by the formidable maitre d’, Mr Eric, whom I was far too young to know, obviously, but knew about thanks to my dad cultivating a relationship with him.  It was handy for a local businessman to know the maitre d’ at the Park.  My mum said he always remembered her name.  Jackets and a tie were de rigeur.

There was a  large, curved staircase coming into the lobby and the place was highly suitable for a distinguished old gent, who had lived next door to us, to move into for quite some time after his wife died.

The hotel bar was called, appropriately enough,  The Square Rigger.  It operated a very relaxed policy toward under-age drinking in those days when publicans were able to turn a blind eye so long as no one got out of order.  No one did, not that I remember.

park brown

Who’d paint it brown?

And then…what happened?  Some time in the late 80s, 90s, the decline began.  The Square Rigger became “Parkers” – no longer a lively local, but a soulless hotel bar.  Perhaps they got warned too often about the teenagers.

Then – and this is truly inexplicable – for more than a decade it was painted brown.  Brown.  And not just any brown, but the sort of pale brown that…oh never mind.

It  renamed itself “The Montagu Park Hotel” for some reason.  Cheap vinyl banners advertised “Curry and a pint”.  The magnificent ballroom seemed to be under permanent restoration.  I can only assume Mr Eric was no longer in the hotel’s employ.

And now?  Lunch yesterday was almost heartbreaking.  The dining room is accessed through “Parkers”, where a large screen showed the football, noisily, to almost no one.  My mum – 91 and trying very hard not to look disappointed (she thought we were going to the Grand which has maintained its status, more or less) – and I took our seats for the carvery at a table with paper table cloths still dirty from the previous occupants, with paper napkins and an overflowing sugar bowl (sugar bowl? In 2016?)

Everything about it was epicly awful.  The food, the decor, the non-existent service.  Mum, bless her, pretended not to mind.  She’s well brought-up, my mum.  I felt wretched.

I can only take solace in the hope that it need not be like this.  it cannot be.  It’s still a great location, a great-looking building.  It could once again be a wonderful hotel.