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80sNostalgia

Random Interview #6 – Alex Walsh

Interview number 5 is with Alex Walsh, or @DaddaCool on Twitter.

From the very first answer, I loved this interview! Many kids favourite holiday destinations may have been Florida, or Spain, or Australia… I just wasn’t expecting….. well, have a read!


daddacoolWhere was your favourite holiday destination?

Barnstaple. We used to down that that neck of the woods almost every summer. By the time I was 7 or 8 (1982/83) my Dad used to send me and my brother to stroll up the beach and spot the topless sunbathers. When we came back to report, he used to pop off to “get an ice cream”.

Were you a board gamer or more of a toy player?

Toys definitely. I had a good collection of medieval Briton figures and one Christmas my dad built me a castle. It was a work of art- he’d been very good at woodwork when he was younger- complete with crenulated ramparts, a portcullis and winched drawbridge. I also built up a fair sized collection of Action Force (the UK version of GI Joe) over a few years and the sofa cushions were forever coming off to provide a more varied landscape for my battles.

Did your family buy the TV Times and Radio Times regularly, or just at Christmas? And did you use them?

We were a Radio Times household and I used them with the skill that only a youngster can. Although our first VCR was a toploading Betamax, but by the time we’d succumbed to a VHS, I was old enough to have sussed out how to programme it. And I continued to be the only person in the house to manage that feat for a number of years. I mostly used it to record stuff to keep- whole series of Blackadder, Doctor Who and Red Dwarf for starters- because the BBC hadn’t really sussed out how to commercialise it catalogue at that point but I did tape and watch a huge number of old Hammer horror films. My first experience of boobies were probably thanks to my buddies at Hammer.

If you could spend a day in a TV show, which one would it be and why?

Before Rory McGrath and Jimmy Mulville had their epic falling out, they made a not very seen sitcom called Chelmsford 123. It was basically a sort of Blackadder for the Romans. The first episode was shot entirely in Latin with English subtitles. Fortunately they dropped that for the rest. My wife spent 10 years working in a Roman museum so I think I’d like to spend a day living in Chelmsford, in the year of our Lord 123.

Who would be on your 80s mix tape?

Oh, I’d like to say some of the cool stuff I’ve picked up on as an adult- ZZ Top, Van Halen, Springsteen and so on, but if I’m to be completely honest, it would have stuff like this on it:

  • Good Thing – Fine Young Cannibals
  • Velveteen – Transvision Vamp
  • Megablast (Assault on Precinct 13 version) – Bomb the Bass
  • Take on me – AHA
  • Sweet Child o Mine – GnR
  • Sailing on the 7 seas – OMD
  • Your Town – Deacon Blue

I didn’t really get into my music until the 90’s but now I’m a complete music nut.

What was the worst TV programme of the 80s?

Bread by Carla Lane. My parents had an inexplicable love of Carla Lane and it never made sense to me. Her stuff was morose, dull as ditchwater and populated by unlikeable people who’s motivations were impenetrable to kids. Not like the Young Ones or Blackeradder, they made sense. Nerris Hughes as the District Nurse comes a close second.

Did you ever save up tokens and send away for anything?

I certainly did. Coupons off of Rice Krispies to get a 7 inch single (Prince Charming by Adam and the Ants) and logos off of boxes to get an Action Force Red Shadow Skeletron figure. I cheated and clipped 6 logos off of a vehicle box.

Did you ever have to see the school nurse?

I fractured my arm in 1981 doing a piggy back race at the school sports day. I had the fat kid on my back and the nurse was enormously unsympathetic. She was enormously mortified the next day when I came in with a plaster cast on my arm too.

What was your favourite lesson at school?

I used to like English because I always wanted to be a writer. Now I’m an accountant. That’s probably why I write a blog. I always wrote the longest and most “out there” stories in my class and I think I’m right in saying when 1993 came around, I was the first student to get an A at A level for English lit in our school for a long time.

Do you have any claims to fame from your youth? Were you on TV, or have your name read out on the radio?

I had the star letter in a videogames magazine called ACE (they rated games out of 1,000 for some odd reason). The prize was a game for whatever system I had. They sent me one that had scored 251/1,000 (I can remember the score to this day). I got the hump.

Did you have any strange habits when you were young?

I used to tear the bottom corner off of comic pages (about the size of a thumbnail) and eat them. Lord knows why I did it but it’s ruined a lot of the comics I’ve kept.

Do you remember any big news stories from the 80s?

Loads of stories but the one that really sticks in my mind was the Blue Peter garden being vandalised and Janet Ellis getting all po-faced on the telly over it. Wars, weddings and strikes don’t matter as much when you’re a kid.

What would you get, or would you have wanted to get, from the pop man?

We had a sodastream the first time round- with the massively thick glass bottles. I remember going with my mum to Gateways to pick up concentrates. I always angled for the cherryade but probably ended up with something more conservative like lemonade or cola.

Who was your favourite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker. I physically cried when they announced Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor on Blue Peter. I would have been 12 too but I’m not ashamed of it. As far as I was concerned he was the comic idiot from Eureka! The writing had been on the wall when Peri was replaced by Bonnie Langford (*spits*). I used to joke our first borns first words were going to be “Hello, I’m the Doctor, have a jelly baby” but the wife lost her sense of humour when she found me repeating the phrase to him.


To follow Alex on Twitter, click here – @DaddaCool

To read his mighty fine blog, click here – DaddaCool.co.uk

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