This morning, Scarlett and I were watching Teletubbies, as it was early in the morning I thought perhaps I’d accidentally woken up in 1995 which is the last time I remember watching Teletubbies with my little brother. But it seems the bear/children/robot hybrids are back, and saying ‘eh oh’! (You’d have thought they they may have learnt a few more words in the years since their absence..!)
It got me thinking of other things I’d enjoy seeing back so while I procrastinate slightly further (I’m sitting, coffee in hand with a growing mountain of work with colleagues due round very soon so I feel it’s high time for an unnecessarily compiled list!) see below for my little journey back to the nostalgic 90’s!
- Twist & Squeeze – regular blog readers will know that twist & squeeze is essentially what introduced my husband and I to each other back in 1990! It was a horrendous drink filled with God nows what chemicals but tasted amazing! It is now back under the name ‘Squeeze It’ and is now much less chemically enhanced although I’m not sure it’ll be winning any awards anytime soon! However, even the taste of the new version is enough to take me right back. The problem is, it’s easier to track down unicorns than Squeeze It’s so it definitely makes the list of things I’d love to have back!
- Gladiators – “CONTENDERS, ARE YOU READY!!” Admit it, you automatically did the accent. In the 90’s, no Saturday night was complete without Ulrika, Fash & the whole team of men and women in leotards with thinly veiled racism based names! It was the highlight of Saturday night TV (well, my Mum preferred Casualty but frankly as a child that wasn’t quite as exciting!). They did try and bring it back in the 00’s, but it just wasn’t the same. AWOOGA my friends, a reboot didn’t work but I still pine for the original.
- A few other programmes not quite exciting enough for their own entry but lumped together in a Saturday night based nostalgic trip also include; Generation Game, Noels House Party, Blind Date, You Bet and Big Break. Not to mention the Sunday night Borrowers. These days, there are so many channels, you can easily avoid this type of variety based family entertainment, and I don’t watch XFactor or Strictly or any of the current equivalents so I can’t be too upset on their absence. However, the memory of all of them makes me think of family nights in! Scarlett will hopefully look on the various themed nights we put on on weekend nights we’re not working with the same fondness…hmmm…hopefully!
- Dinosaur shaped food – I grant you this is a bit abstract, and slightly off topic as there is still dinosaur shaped food and I still buy it, not even as Scarlett food because she eats much healthier than that. For me, when I’m poorly or having a difficult day, Turkey Dinosaurs, Smiley Faces and Spaghetti Hoops with mini sausages is just the thing to cheer me up or make me feel better! We call it ‘kids tea night’. It takes me right back to childhood meals (which let’s face it, the 80’s and 90’s were as much of a low point in terms of nutrition as it has ever been!). These days, there are MUCH better and tastier alternatives but there’s something soothing about sitting down to the same dinner you did when you were 7!
- Crackle sauce – I’m not sure of the exact name of the stuff we got but it was always a VERY exciting day when Mum came home from the shops with a bottle of the ice cream sauce (mint chocolate was my personal favourite) that set and crackled on your bowl of ice cream! i realise that these days we have a plethora of exciting ice-cream flavour combinations, and frozen yoghurt and all kinds of varieties but back in the 90’s, you knew you were in a fancy, exciting household if they had crackle sauce!
- Calling on a friend – I’m going to sound every month of my 30 years old now but these days, children arrange get togethers by sending each other a Snapchat or texting each other. Back in our day, you legged it round your mates house, or biked it up the road and knocked on the door. You then asked their parents if they were in and if you’d managed to track them down, the fun began! If you’d arranged to meet a friend in town, you HAD to be there, you couldn’t cancel once they’d left their house because you couldn’t get hold of them to let them know. It was a simpler time! Now of course, it’s much better; it’s much much safer to be able to call someone if you get lost, or be able to get into contact with someone at last minute to make sure you find each other. The nostalgia of a time before social media was so dominant, doesn’t take into account the huge benefits a more thorough age of communication brings. So I have very fond memories of running round to my best friends house and getting to know their families and playing outside, but I was very lucky to grow up in a very safe village where at least ten neighbours would have seen me run past and kept an eye out for all of us. That was never the case for every neighbourhood. But that’s the beauty of nostalgia. Crime statistics show a real and definite benefit to a more communicative age, I can look back fondly but it’s one way in which forward is definitely best!
- Grandparents – Now this is a rather strange entry I know but bear with me. As a child, I not only had parents looking after me but also Grandparents. And I was extremely lucky with my Grandparents, they were amazing. Sadly all four are no longer with us and I often think of the relationships from when I was younger and miss them terribly. As a child, you feel like your parents know everything and can protect you from everything, so Grandparents are like a souped up version of that! They’re like the oracle of knowledge! I remember sitting in the kitchen with my Grandad and being regaled with stories from the past and just being so in awe of this amazing, warm hearted, loving man. When you lose your Grandparents (and get to the age where you realise your own parents aren’t totally infallible!) you suddenly realise you’re nearer the front line. YOU are now the adult and then you have kids and it’s you that’s being asked the questions! And let’s face it, throughout adulthood, we all still wish we could go and sit on Nana’s knee and get given a mint humbug and feel like everything is ok! It’s a feeling I miss terribly and one that you sadly struggle to find as an adult.
- After School Clubs/Activities – When I was younger, I played the piano, so my parents provided me with a piano and lessons. When I was an older child, I fancied trying the flute so they dutifully got me a flute and lessons! After school I played netball, rounders, swam, learnt French, went to drama club, you name it, I wanted to try it! Now I’m aware of how lucky I was that I got to try and all those things but children are generally very fickle with their hobbies. As adults, this doesn’t necessarily change, what does change is accessibility and affordability! Before being pregnant I played netball every week at a cost of roughly £25 a month at the local sports club. But that’s after I set up a team with the goal of it being cheaper than average. I’d love to learn a language and play a new instrument but now I’m an adult I’m expected to pay for it myself (ridiculous!) and I can’t just turn up at my old school where there is a wealth of activities available, I have to hunt them out. AND my Dad won’t just drop me off to them anymore, I have to get there myself!! (living three hours away from me is no excuse Dad, frankly, you’ve dropped the ball on my extra curricular lifestyle!) And that’s ignoring the fact that I have no time to dry my hair after a shower with my work schedule, let alone try out the nearest ski slopes. Scarlett will soon start all sorts of hobbies, many of which (to I’m sure, the frustration of my husband and I) she’ll ditch just after we’ve spent money investing in lessons or equipment or appropriate clothing. And that’s the joy of being a child. And let’s be honest, we all miss that!
- Instant Cameras – The quality of photos has MASSIVELY improved and in this digital age, future generations will have a knowledge and understanding on the past (for good or for bad!) and we will no doubt learn a lot from it. My hope is that the use of social media will reach a lesser saturation point and will settle into a more suitable format but in the main, it would be ignorant to suggest it isn’t overall a good thing. However, saying that, in the 90’s, the photos you had were precious snapshots. I distinctly remember in particular a photo of myself and two friends sitting atop an elephant at the circus. I now wouldn’t attend a circus that used live animals in the way they did but back then we didn’t know the horrible conditions they were kept under and this one polaroid photo (in which the lighting isn’t even particularly good so you can’t really see us!) is an little window into that time of my life. What my hair was like, the clothes I wore (HA! Mum obviously had not won the battle with me that day because I had obviously made the decisions there!). I still have loads of pictures of me when i was growing up don’t get me wrong, but not 17 pictures of one morning like we can do of Scarlett now! I cherish dog eared pictures of my parents and Grandparents as they are all we have, there’s no digital back up, I sometimes dearly wish we had more of, for example, my Grandparents childhoods so I could know a bit more about them. That’s not a problem Scarlett will have – frankly she’ll know far too much! It’s a great time to be around in terms of how far our Western world has developed and what we can achieve but I have a real fondness for those bent and scratched from time old photos.
- Getting Muddy! – And finally, my Mother will cringe when she reads this one! As a child, I was notorious for being a lovely feminine, girly girl. Oh…except, in no way was I! I hated dresses and skirts, they were impractical for climbing trees or jumping in mud. I was every inch a tomboy and loved it. These days, I can sometimes appreciate being dressed up and enjoy the odd occasion to do so but my maternity wear of choice is always the faithful dungarees and when I can get away with it, I still revert to the jeans and t-shirt or now the joy of Winter is upon us, leggings and a big baggy jumper that comes down to my knees! As a child, Mum would despair at the number of times I’d come home with ripped sleeves, muddy trousers, and on a few more occasions than she’d probably care to remember blood stains from whatever ridiculous thing we’d all thought was a brilliant idea at the time! But I was only a child after all and a bit of Daz sorted that right out! These days, if I’m on my way to work and see a giant puddle, or a grassy hill that looks prime for rolling down, not only do i have to then clean my clothes myself, it is not acceptable anymore! Turning up at work with grass stains with mud and the old speck of blood all over my face and clothes is apparently not the right image. (I know, I know, it’s political correctness gone mad!) So I don’t. I walk past the hill, i avoid the puddle, and the seven year old version of me sighs another sad sigh of adulthood. Wouldn’t it be great if we could walk into a rehearsal room or a big meeting covered in mud for people to say, ‘oh wicked, which hill did you roll down, bagsy my go at lunchtime.’ Alas I fear those days have past. No longer do I wheelie on my bike (although to be honest that’s because I couldn’t do it as a kid, I was a real tryer though, although thinking back, it explains a lot of the little scars I’ve got) and only on special occasions do I participate in the kind of behaviour that turns my poor Mums hair grey! (In the picture below, that’s me in the middle, refusing to go to my shared birthday fancy dress party asa princess and demanding to go as a genie!)
I realise a lot of these aren’t 90’s specific and in fact some of them are more 80’s and even before that. Nostalgia is a funny thing. Statistics show that we are generally speaking all in better living conditions, living healthier, with safer streets and a much fairer way of living (UK anyway) and yet it doesn’t matter which generation you come from, you will look back on your own as the best. It’s because we all get to adulthood and think ‘what the hell is this?!’ Your memories are skewed with those glorious rose tinted glasses of childhood! So although I like to stay realistic and accept that some of the food, programmes and traits of my childhood were significantly worse than the opportunities and options for Scarlett’s generation. It’s every former child’s right to sometimes wrap themselves in a warm blanket of youth, and pretend that frankly, life now is nothing compared to ‘back in our day’!