Another Dimension 

I need to get out! I need to escape from this house. 

Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge kitchen flooded with  high tech domestic appliances that I don’t know how to operate. A heated indoor Swimming Pool, the wafer thin TV set with endless channels and perfect decor that would make any guest gasp in awe. 

Sounds perfect to you? 

  

I’ve lost track of what day it is. I don’t know how I arrived here. I’ve tried to escape on numerous occasions. The front door won’t budge … same with the back door and the windows. The combination of the huge windows and the loud ticking clock reveals sunrise at at 6.42am and sunset at 7.27pm every day. My observation during my time here is that the Spring, Autumn and Winter seasons don’t exist.
I need to get out!

I can’t get my head around the aroma of freshly baked bread creeping into the bedroom at he crack of dawn. Breakfast all laid out on the kitchen table. The rumbling of the washing machine. The hissing of the steam iron in the utility room. The bedrooms laundered every day … the endless supply of toiletries in the bathroom … it’s like a 5 star hotel with invisible housekeepers. I hear footsteps and a dialect I don’t understand. I see dishes being put away, freshly ironed shirts floating into the wardrobe and the vacuum cleaner roaring back and forth in the hallway. Still I see no people.

I crave for company … just one person who I can talk to … someone who I can help me understand why I’m here. I just need someone … I want to see a face … a man, a woman, a cheeky teenager … anyone!

  

The Cellar. Maybe that’s worth another try. I open the door and head down those steep dark steps. I stand in total darkness at the bottom of the cellar. This is the point where I chickened out last time but I need to take a leap of faith to escape. One step, two steps … three … four … more steps into the depths of blackness. It’s so hot down here. The heat intensifies as I feel beads of sweat soak my entire body. Still I persist and take a few more hesitant steps. The heat is unbearable. I turn around in defeat and head back in the direction that I’d entered. I slowly climb the cellar stairs and re-enter the kitchen. I slump on a chair and start beating myself up over my failed attempt to escape.

‘What did you do on the outside?’

Who said that? Where are you?

I saw him briefly in front of me. Before I could reply, he’d gone … poof! 

I sit and consider. The outside? It’s slowly coming back to me … every single violent detail. The final piece of the jigsaw falls into place as I climb off the chair and head upstairs to bed. I know what to expect tomorrow … and the day after, and the day after that. I lay my head on the pillow knowing there is no escape whilst holding up the imaginary white flag.

I’m in a different dimension. A dimension of submission and loneliness. A dimension of regrets and mental torture. A dimension of predictability for each day. I’m in a dimension called The Twilight Zone.

  

Make it count!

Punch in those digits! Whilst some hunt high and low looking for a calculatior, you grin to yourself and with a flick of your wrist you reveal the calculator on your watch.
Maybe you were awful at maths at school, struggled with long multiplication and long division. No worries … our friends at Casio are here to help you out. No sweat about adding up the cost of the shopping, no panic about quickly adding up the cost of a round of drinks at the pub, numbers are made easy … just punch in those digits and poof! All sorted.

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The watch with a calculator. It was quite groundbreaking when launched. No need to leg it round the house looking for a calculator to add up how much you owe the window cleaner. No need to hunt down a bit of scrap paper and pen to subtract, multiply and carryover. Casio realised that many of us struggle with numbers and took pity on us. ‘Why go through the pain of dealing with numbers after years of torture at school?’ They took pity on us and began to task of making life easy for the number strugglers.

What was the watch like to own?
Sadly I didn’t own one. A friend of mine (Mr Dillon) dug one out and suggested I write an article on it. The watch looks retro. Rewind to the 80s … sport a big hairstyle (perm or afro), white baggy trousers, a baggy shirt and fling the watch calculator on your wrist … a fashion statement is made … straight outta the 80s and maths is a piece of cake.
This watch is not subtle … It looks chunky. In fact I hesitated putting it on my skinny wrist fearing that my wrist would be body slammed. In reality it’s a lot lighter than many of the watches being sold today.
The calculator buttons are a bit tiny. I can imagine people with chunky fingers struggling to punch in one digit at a time and eventually giving the watch away to their matchstick fingered friends.

This may sound strange but I do wonder how many owners of this timepiece actually made serious use of the calculator. Whilst growing up I never clocked many people punching in the digits to ensure they weren’t being ripped off whilst shopping. I didn’t notice anyone punching in the digits when calculating how many pints of milk were gulped down when the Milkman came knocking. Maybe, just maybe, this watch was more of a fashion statement … a kind of high tech, geeky fashion statement.

Something strange is happening whilst writing this article with the watch slouched next to my computer. I have the urge to actually own one of these timepieces. This retro timepiece is drawing me in … it’s seducing me … it’s saying ‘I may be geeky but you want me wrapped round your skinny wrist’. I was never the best at maths and I have skinny fingers … I think an evening on eBay should satisfy my urge.

Never be stuck for numbers … the answers are on your wrist. Get it right first time … loosen your fingers and punch in those digits … retro stylee.

 

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The Ford Capri

He was Yellow and I can still remember his registration plate … MGP 119P. You couldn’t mess with him. He stood out from the rest. He was sporty, swift and turned a lot of heads. Men wanted him. How can you resist his those sporty looks, sleek design and awesome power. His long bonnet now has iconic status. The sleek sporty one we are referring to is the Ford Capri.  

 
How can I remember the registration plate after 33 years? Easy really. I never forget something that stands out amongst the rest. The Capri really stood out boldly (even more so as it was Yellow). My eldest brother was the proud owner of this 4 wheeled beast. There were other cars gunning for the Capri but they had to eventually hang their heads in defeat. The Capri was just unique.

So what about him … the Capri. He was sporty … I think of him as the Daley Thompson amongst cars … powerful, muscular, flexible and a crowd pleaser. Also pretty easy on the eye. He’s a competitor and winner. He’ll push all the way to the finish line and scoop up that Gold medal.
The Capri looked good. After he’s scooped up the Gold medal, he’ll just spend time being relaxed and elegant. Expect to see the Capri at the latest trendy hang out’s. He certainly does not look at out out place in any situation.

  

The unique long bonnet, the sporty looking front, the sleek design … an irresistible  package. I recall Bodie and Doyle (The Professionals) jumping into the Capri and speeding off to take out the villians of this world. They also used it whilst dating the ladies. The Capri is action packed with a smooth and charming personality. 
Were you a proud Capri owner?
I loved the Capri … I want a Capri!
Sadly my brother’s Yellow sporty number came to a pityful end. My brother decided to go for something bigger … the Ford Granada (it happens as we get older, have responsibilities and kids). He decided to sell his sporty Yellow Capri to a friend. The friend in turn ran the Yellow Capri into the ground. The Yellow Capri was last seen on Harley Road being held up by bricks. A sad end to an iconic legend.
  
I smile when I see a Capri whizz past. The Capri will never be forgotten (and righty so). When you mention iconic cars, the Capri will be on the list. Dynamic and sporty, fast and furious, smooth and elegant, bold and confident … The Capri.

  
 
                

Always Ready

It’s your birthday. You’ve made it to the grand age of 10 years old. The party is in full swing and your friends are dancing like drunken snakes as the party tunes pump out from the record player speakers. The party is moving at a frantic pace. The music stops and then it’s onto a game of Pass the Parcel. Once the parcel is finally unwrapped, it’s time for a break as everyone takes their seats on the long table. The table is filled with delights … wobbling Jelly, mountains of Ice cream and a bright coloured birthday cake.
After you’ve all stuffed your faces, it’s time for you to blow out the candles on your birthday cake. Close your eyes, made a wish, deep breath and blow!

It gets a bit frantic again as you begin ripping open your pressies. You dig your fingers deep into the folds of the well wrapped presents and send the wrapping paper flying over your shoulder. Your wish has come true as a portable radio is revealed. You frantically open the box and want to test out your wish come true present. Radio out the box, aerial up and hit the on switch. Your face is filled with confusion and frustration as nothing happens. You look up and notice your dad holding out a handful of batteries needed for your radio to work. These are no ordinary batteries … these batteries are better than the rest and guaranteed to give you loads of radio listening time. These batteries are not sluggish, they sprint out of the blocks like a demon possessed Usain Bolt. These batteries are Ever Ready batteries.

False economy. That’s what you’ll be getting if you buy cheap batteries. Your Radio will be as flat as a tortilla within an hour if you go for an ordinary battery. Don’t be tight, get it right first time by investing in Ever Ready batteries. If the shopkeeper tries to convince you to buy the ‘never heard of’ brand, ignore them and demand Ever Ready.

Back in the day, Ever Ready was the battery to get your hands on. These were the days before the battery with the copper coloured top hit the top spot. When you brought a new radio, the chances were that you’d pop a few Ever Ready’s in … a new torch then you would slide a chunky Ever Ready in to keep things bright.

Do you have fond memories of Ever Ready batteries? Let the retrohen team know.

I certainly have fond memories of popping in a couple of Red Ever Ready’s into my portable radio. I remember the feeling of reassurance knowing that the batteries would not give up the ghost whilst listening to the charts on Sunday evening. The Ever Ready brand has gone but whether you chose Ever Ready Blue or Red, you knew you had reassurance that the heartbeat of your battery operated appliance would keep beating well beyond your expectations.

Boot it up!

Flick on your 14 inch colour television, connect your Vic 20 and get booted up! What would you like to play? Take your pick … Supervaders, Bomber Run, Cosmic Cruncher, Hoppit, Hunchback, Pit, Emmet Attack, Space Invaders, Pacman? How about Hunchback? Slide the cassette into the cassette reader and get that game loaded! The message ‘searching’ appears on the screen as the mighty Vic 20 seeks out which program is hidden on the cassette reel. ‘Found Hunchback’, ‘loading’ … success! Soon (like 5 minutes) you’ll be swaying, ducking and diving whilst attempting to rescue the beautiful lady.

The Vic 20 was cool. It was bold and proud. The beige keyboard and black keys ensured that this beast was snapped up by many wanting to own a state of the art home computer. The Vic 20 had a limited amount of available memory (very limited) but who cared? If you were one of the people who wanted to boost the memory of  the Vic 20 then you could splash out on a RAM expansion. Additional RAM means the Vic 20 is able to load more complex games with more complex levels … play until your hearts content or until you hurl the Joystick  to the other side of the room in frustration.

Talking of frustration, ever tried to load a game in the cassette reader when suddenly you get the dreaded error message? It’s then a case of re-booting and trying again.

 

The advantage of a cartridge game (like Cosmic Cruncher) was that the game loaded instantly … no messing.

Maybe you have tried your hand at a bit of computer programming (Basic language) so spent most of the day typing in a programme from the Vic 20 user manual. There’s only one word to describe this task … Painful! Once you’ve spent most of the day typing the programme there is no guarantee that it will work … Grrrr. I recall spending a whole day typing in a gaming programme called Killer Comet. After sorting through all the typing errors I’d made, I watched in anticipation to see what would appear on the screen. My 8 hours of programming and correcting resulted in a large white rectangle flashing across the screen from left to right. So much pain for just a rectangle.

Today the Vic 20 has serious retro status. If you want one you can easily bag one on eBay for a decent price. In the early 80s the Vic 20 was one of the earliest, affordable home computers. Looking back, the graphics were nothing to write home about but was a huge improvement compared to the earlier consoles. I loved the Vic 20 … I would play Duck Shoot until the early hours of the morning. Family members should fight over who’d be next to blast those Ducks away! When you think of retro gaming, I’m sure the Vic 20 pops into your mind. I’m sure you’ll smile whilst recalling the hours of fun spent gaming until the late hours. The Vic 20 is gone but not forgotten.


Duck Shoot