I was in a pub in Portsmouth. It was 1982 and I was on my first Rugby Tour, with the school first XV. On this particular evening, I decided to pop over the road to the phone box to call the then incumbent Mrs B. When she picked up the phone she was crying. “What’s up with you?” I gently inquired. “We’ve declared war on Argentina” she wept. It transpired that she was terrified that I’d get called-up. After pointing out to her that the Argentine army were hardly up to beating Our Brave Boys (“They’re hardly the bleedin’ Israelis, are they ?” I recall saying) and I saw no way that the draft would come my way, she seemed a bit cheerier, so I returned to the pub to announce to my chums that we were indeed “at war with Argentina”, for which I received a dousing in lager from my mates for telling porkies.
It seems another world away: Phone boxes, The Falklands, School trips. Mobile phones were around, but they were the size of chest-freezers and there were about four of them in the country. In that year, Channel 4 was launched, De Lorean went out of business, as did Freddie Laker. Women were protesting outside Greenham Common and Princess Di knocked out her first chavvy, William. Unemployment reached 3 million and Thatcher was in her Pomp. Colin Welland told the Academy that “The British are coming” when Chariots of Fire swept up at the Oscars.
In 1982 I looked like this
In 1982 Allan Simonsen, the 1977 European Footballer of the Year, signed for Charlton Athletic from Barcelona. We all thought that he must have made a mistake and thought he was signing for Bobby Charlton. He wouldn’t pass the ball to anyone else. They didn’t look good enough. They weren’t. Aston Villa won the European Cup (honest). Yuri Andropov led the Soviet Union, long before he became the subject of funny bar songs.
Michael Jackson, who was turning a funny colour, released Thriller and we all strutted around parties like Zombies. In 1982, if I was buying a computer, I’d buy the newly-released Commodore 64. The world mourned the death of John Belushi, Marty Feldman and Arthur Lowe. They were replaced by Jermain Defoe, LeAnn Rimes and Gavin Henson. Hardly a fair swap.The price of a pint was 62p and petrol was 159p-a-gallon. That year they completed the construction of the Thames Barrier.
In 1982 Sean Hodgson went to jail for a murder he didn’t commit. 27 years later (today, in fact) a High Court Judge quashed the conviction in the light of new DNA evidence unavailable at the time of the trial. But it also emerged that Mr Hodgson could have been released 11 years ago but for an admin cock-up. I watched open-mouthed on tv as a smiling Plod spokesman took to the steps of the High Court and said the Hampshire Police were pleased they were able to help in the legal process and secure Mr Hodgson’s release. They’re going to look into the case again.
In 1982 I didn’t trust the Old Bill or the system. They scared me. Wonder how Sean Hodgson feels ?