Tuesday 16 January 2018

My 1400th Post

Ha! Why Five Oh? 

My 1400th Post

For what turns out to be my 1400th post I thought I’d talk about something which has been on my mind for a bit,  just recently. One week ago I turned 50 years of age. It’s a bit of a milestone, I guess and, if anyone were to ask me then I would probably tell them the same old cliché most people respond with when they hit a big, round number like that... that I don’t really feel like a ‘insert your appropriate number here’ year old. And, as it happens, it’s true... I don’t feel anymore like a fifty year old than I did when I was a forty year old.

However, that doesn’t mean nothing has changed for me.

This blog means a lot to me. It’s an indication to myself that I can a) write about film and other assorted arts in a, reasonably, coherent manner and b) it means I have been disciplined enough not to give up and keep plugging away at this thing regardless of the occasional set back. And then I think, since the primary focus of this thing is centred around film, how different the world is now and how, as a young lad, I would never have been able to even  imagine the concept of a blog.

I was born in 1968... which means I pretty much grew up in the 1970s and early 80s. You couldn’t just watch the movie of your choice at your convenience in those days. There was no such thing as home video and, although we had a black and white television, films had a hold back from cinema to being shown on TV of at least five years (should one of the three TV channels decide purchase the broadcast rights). Furthermore... and this was in the days before you could record or time shift anything, remember... once a film had been on TV, it wasn’t likely to return to the schedule for another 3 to 5 years either. So if you missed it in the slot it had been allocated (such as a late night horror spot), then you’d had it. Also, although colour TVs were around, if you were brought up on a black and white set then you probably weren’t all that aware that you weren’t watching in colour. Because your mind used to fill the colours in by itself. Granted, you made your own colours up but, you know, sometimes they were better than the actual reality of the thing anyway. I remember feeling quite weird when I got my Dinky Thunderbird 2 toy and I had to ask my dad why it was a turquoise colour instead of being red like on the black and white telly. Which maybe says a little more about me than I might ordinarily like to share.

We also didn’t have video games back then. I can remember when the very first one came out which was two lines to represent bats and a dot to represent a ball... you controlled the ‘bats’ by a cylindrical knob on a controller hard wired to the big unit. People’s jaws were dropping. We couldn’t have conceived of this bizarre, virtual interaction with technology on our TV sets and it was a fair few years before the home computer boom began to change the way people thought even further. These were the days before Space Invaders, remember. So if you went into an amusement arcade in a seaside town there was very little in terms of a 'virtual' display. It was all slot machines, penny falls, the big mannequin of the cowboy bandit you had to outdraw, ski ball and, my favourites, the pinball machines (still my favourites but more or less, sadly, extinct).

So, yeah, accessability to things like films was a no go (although there was a small market for Super 8 'cut downs' of certain movies). It’s hard to explain the absolutely giant leap of technology I’ve seen in the last fifty years. Anyone under the age of 30 would probably have a really hard time trying to imagine what it was like in that bygone era and, I’m never really sure if that’s a bad thing or a good thing, to be honest.

There wasn’t much in the way of movie merchandise either, in those days... before films like Star Wars changed the face of the toy industry. We had the occasional, sometimes age inappropriate bubble gum cards like Shock Theatre. And there were Top Trumps, Corgi & Dinky toys, Mego Action Figures, Action Man, Cyborg & Muton and rubber sharks. But nothing like what is available for entertainment these days although, ironically, some of the toys we did have back then are worth a fortune now.

And, of course, we had our comics. Mostly Marvel, DC and Harvey for me but books and comics were my main focus of entertainment when I wasn’t spending my time drawing. I longed for the movie companies in Hollywood to try out making a movie about a superhero but, you know, high risk projects of material such as that were few and far between. Nowadays when I go to the cinema and see all these super-powered movies, I feel like I’m living the childhood I never had the opportunity to live when I was a lad.

And there you have it. I’m done with this post, I think. I’m not going to leave you with any positive message or a warning about ‘how all you kids have it lucky today’... especially with the state of things going on in the world at the moment. I will, however, say one thing which youngsters might want to discount as an ageing and unwanted word of wisdom on the subject, while I’m writing about such a thing and it is this... If you are going to attempt to live as long as I have and reach this age then... don’t try it without adult supervision.

Thanks for reading.

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