Well, what can I say. You see I was making my way in the world of work at this time not long having left school. Music was very important in my life then, being just on the cusp of my lifetime ‘peak record buying period’ that was about to come. Of course we all think that our own era in pop/rock music was the best don’t we? On the back of that, I had set a series record on Sky Plus to grab the weekly dose of TOTP editions from 1976 that have been showing for the past while. Today whilst sitting at home I’ve just finished viewing the Christmas show from that same year.
What a huge disappointment.
Of course, what I had completely forgotten was that Top of the Pops was ALWAYS terrible – almost without fail. This goes back to it’s origins when despite having great sixties acts (miming) on the show it was regularly outperformed by Ready Steady Go!
The year of 1976 was of course just about to experience a huge change in music with the coming of Punk and New Wave largely ousting the older sixties/seventies bands and changing the genre forever in some respects. All it took was for the Sex Pistols to utter a few expletives on The Bill Grundy Show and we were away. One would never have thought so watching TOTP in that year as an endless procession of gimmicky, often one-hit wonders were rolled out to the smug, trite and unfunny introductions of Noel Edmonds, Dave Lee (The Hairy Monster) Travis, Tony Blackburn and ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton.
The Christmas edition packed in appearances by no less than Brotherhood of Man, all cheesy moustaches and twee choreography and Our Kid, a bunch of pre-adolescents tailored for the granny market plus the end-of-evening-at-the-disco schmaltz of Chicago’s ‘If you leave me now’. These efforts neatly dovetailed the more interesting Rod Stewart’s ‘The Killing of Georgie’ with Rod at his preening and posing mid-seventies best (worst) and a spot of poppy soul in the full-voiced Billy Ocean.
Augmenting this sorry state of affairs, dance group Legs & Co were reeled out by a salivating Jimmy Saville and Tony Blackburn to perform the most literal of dance routines to Wings’ ‘Let Em In’ which comprised the dancers cleverly walking through doors to depict the song’s fairly banal lyrics. Deary me.
You see I DO remember there being some great music around at this time – it’s just that Top of the Pops was the very last place to go looking for it. I think I gave up on it a few years earlier than this about the time when David Bowie appeared with Ronno and the band performing ‘Starman’ to the eternal question of my dad (and every dad up and down the land) from behind his Daily Mirror asking ‘is that a bloody man or a woman?’. The signs were on the wall then and, apart from some kind of misplaced nostalgia, I’m not really sure how the program lasted quite as long as it did. It must be said that whilst televised rock music pickings were thin indeed in that era, the ever-excellent and probing Old Grey Whistle Test picked up the ball and ran with it to great effect. It was always everything that TOTP could have been (if it had been, say, Ready Steady Go!)
I’ve cancelled the series record on Sky. I think I’ll stick with my memories and my ever-collecting-dust vinyl record collection
Oh, look out…here comes Showaddywaddy…
I know the answer (but wouldn’t have until fairly recently.)
I was a with a friend on a favourite local walk and we took a slight detour off the beaten path to surprisingly come across this monument. I reckon at least one reader of this site will be able to place it. Good luck!
One of the true greats of football passes away laving a wife and six sons. A life sadly periodically blighted by alcohol in more recent times, it is as a shining star of Brazil’s 1982 World Cup side that Socrates will nevertheless be remembered.
Winning a magnificent sixty caps for his country, the image of the great midfielder will always be that of his genius passing ability and great stature and presence on the field.
Rest in peace ‘The Doctor’
CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR and so do the attendant Christmas Markets dotted around the UK in, its larger cities in particular. Here in Nottingham until a year ago, we had a German Market placed in and around the large Old Market Square in the centre of the city. This was replaced last year when, in the dying days of November, a much-vaunted ‘Victorian Fair’ came to take its place.
I’ll not try to claim any of these events as being terribly authentic in any way. The goods tend to be expensive too, but at least they provide a little mid-winter atmosphere around the city centre which could look a little barren and grey in the faltering light and damp pavements at the end of the year.
In previous years I particularly enjoyed seeing the busy outdoor skating rink laid out as a centre piece in the Square. Although of course artificial, it exuded a pleasing Winter ambience and truth be told, people appeared to like it as it always seemed well-used when I was passing there, which was often. Conveniently close by was a simple beer stand where one could wash down a delicious Bratwurst with a pint or two of excellent German Paulaner out in God’s good fresh air.
Last year things changed with a larger licensed bar in the form of a Canadian-style hunting lodge. The concept was pretty hokey, what with its pair of old white figure skates hanging on the wall (in a hunting lodge!) a scattering of furniture and a fur rug or two. It was however warmish in there which was a bonus, even if the drinks had been largely demoted to bog-standard beers sold in any old pub.
This year I popped into the Square on the evening of the 23rd November for the annual Christmas tree lights switch on and was quite disappointed in what I saw. Centre stage in place of the skating rink was a huge fairground ride which I believe is called the ‘North Star’. The Council’s blurb describe it as sixty metres high and it is totally out of keeping with a Christmas Market. It actually looks quite ridiculous. Wandering around I also noticed a fairground merry-go-round, which for the life of me I can’t link to Christmas and other smaller rides which I’ve subsequently seen deserted and only manned by bored-looking operators.
There’s a large bar which is excitedly billed by the council as a ‘Narnia’ experience. It’s basically a large open-ended shed that sells beer with a smaller room through a ‘wardrobe’ door. There’s mulled wine and Staropramen amongst other things on offer. I did enjoy an excellent pint of Briska Swedish perry which was very refreshing. I won’t be taking too many of those though at £3.80 a pint.
Small stalls snake along Long Row and Wheeler gate in what is a larger event for 2011. Many of the businesses however are generic, anytime anywhere affairs which have little to do with the festivities at this time of year.
So, on balance, I’m pretty disappointed. I’ve enjoyed socialising with friends on the Christmas Market in Nottingham many times but can’t see that happening so much this year. The Nottingham City Council seem to have capitulated to a lack of cash but more obviously a lack of imagination. The same fairground operators once again dominate the Square as per usual, yes we’ve noticed and you’re not fooling us Nottingham City Council, making it more like Goose Fair with artificial snow. It’s all a bit cheap looking.
Verdict: could do better – much better. I’ll be looking for the spirit of Christmas elsewhere this year.