SIMON CARTER: Could you name the two girls in Strawberry Switchblade?

Strawberry Switchblade.
Strawberry Switchblade.

I was playing Trivial Pursuit the other night. Not the standard general knowledge edition, but the jewel in my games crown – 80s Triv.

Yep, every single question about the decade which brought us deely boppers, shoulder pads, Dusty Bin and The Chicken Song at No 1 in the charts. Don't tell me you'd forgotten The Chicken Song...?



I love the 80s. That was the title of a programme which aired a few years back, a half-hour cocktail of news headlines and top 40 smash hits. And, for me, it's 100 per cent accurate. I do love the 80s.

Questions I was asked the other night (by someone who didn't have as many cheeses as I did):

'How did you know Michael Durkarkis ran for the US Presidency in 1988?' I dunno, I just did.

'How did you know Ron Saunders managed Birmingham City in the mid-1980s?' Well, I've been a sports journalist for almost 30 years and, you know, I've got a good memory.'

A Cabbage Patch doll.

A Cabbage Patch doll.

And my favourite...

'How DID you know the names of the two girls in Strawberry Switchblade?'

I liked Since Yesterday, it was a song which blended a fantastic, jaunty pop melody with fairly bleak lyrics. I didn't actually say the last sentence, though I wanted to. I just mumbled something about liking polka dots.

Sadly, I don't play 80s Triv as often as I want to. Reason why may be startlingly obvious – it's one game I'm actually quite good at and I seem to possess an uncanny knack of annoying those I play against.

Much-missed: Spangles.

Much-missed: Spangles.

All these years on, as I approach next January's milestone of my 50th birthday, in some ways I'm still stuck in the decade of Thatcherism, of IRA bombs, of tragedies at football grounds, of Kylie and Jason, and Cabbage Patch dolls.

My music tastes have hardly changed in three decades – heavy rock, pop, post-punk, new romantics. In the past 12 months I've seen live concerts by U2, Adam Ant, Bananarama and Bryan Adams. I liked them all in the 80s.

OK, I know what you're thinking. By now it's patently obvious I'm not cool. But do you know what I'm thinking? I don't care.

Here is a question, and I'm not sure of the answer. At what age is it uncool to whack the volume up VERY LOUD on the car radio when the opening bars of Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer are played?

Thirty? 40? 45? 50? I guess some clever dicks might say it was never cool to turn the volume up on that one in the first place, or the likes of the Final Countdown by Europe or Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard.

The clever dicks are wrong, of course.

Not just music, but sport too. I prefer the way football used to be in the 80s, and by that I'm not talking about hooligans, crumbling facilities, the hated fences or muddy pitches. I'm talking about the fact clubs like Nottingham Forest could win the European Cup – two years running, in fact –and Coventry and Wimbledon could win the FA Cup.

Life was not always better then than it is now, though. I do not (moon)walk around wearing 80s rose-tinted glasses. How can I, when I can merrily order takeaway Domino's pizza on my mobile phone?  I couldn't do that in the 80s, mainly because we didn't have mobiles when I was 14 or 16, the age my kids are. Come to think of it, we didn't have Domino's either. Well, we didn't in Exeter where I grew up.

So much has changed in society. As always in life, some parts for the better and some worse. So many things are easier now thanks to the internet and other technological advances. The flipside to that particular coin, though, are crimes we'd never heard of back in the 80s  – online grooming and cyber stalking, to name but two. Upskirting would be a third, but for Christopher Choke MP.

A sociological discussion of the merits of growing up in the 80s compared to nowadays would obviously fill several editions of The News, and even then only scratch the surface.

It is impossible to say whether I enjoyed growing up more than my kids have done.

But a few things are certainly in my favour...

1) I could buy Spangles, and my kids can't as packets of those sweets were scandalously withdrawn in 1984;

2) I could purchase two Fruit Salad chews for a penny, and again my kids can't do that as the half pence piece was also withdrawn in 1984. That wasn't a scandal, though.

3) Packets of Panini World Cup football stickers didn't cost 80p when I collected them. They cost 70p less and I still have my completed Espana 82 album if you want to make me a fantastic offer I can't refuse.

I could go on, but I know you're desperate to know the names of the two girls in Strawberry Switchblade.

Jill Bryson and Rose McDowall, but if you're a proper child of the 80s you knew that anyway.