Monthly Archives: August 2012

Were you a “caravan kid”?

Were you a caravan kid? –(a kid who had caravan holidays as an important part of your growing up.)

I certainly have many happy memories of caravan holidays – frugal, fun-filled holidays that seemed to last forever.

This Australia Post stamp really sums up the feel of caravan holiday experience in the 70s – lots of cricket with bins as wickets and hordes of other kids to run around with – the smell of BBQs, steaks and onion and of course big fluffy bread buns and lots of beetroot and pineapple! And later in the night the sounds of grown-ups laughing and maybe even singing and dancing to Hot August Night!

A great mate of mine is a retro fan. He did up an old caravan and filled it with his retro objects and  my son and I have had the pleasure of staying in the van – retro heaven!

In the old caravans I loved how the caravan design would use every bit of space and how the dining table would fold down into a bed and every bit of storage space was used.

When I was a reporter on TODAY one of my favourite assignments was doing a series of stories about the caravan and camping industry and I got to visit caravan parks in some of the best parts of Australia. Some of my media colleagues thought caravans were a bit “down market” and they used to tease me calling me “Captain Caravan” – but for a “caravan kid” doing these stories and visiting caravan parks wasn’t “work” this was pure bliss!


After Neil Armstrong’s death – are you feeling a bit sentimental for space “culture”?

Were you from the generation that got to watch the 1969 Lunar landing on TV?

If so, after the death of Neil Armstrong  you are probably feeling a bit sentimental for that era.

When I look back at my “childhood” and teenage years I see the  cultural impact of the whole space race and the lunar landing.

Astronauts were often the heroes people wanted to be like.

I remember having crazy dreams that I would be an astronaut! The closest I ever got was being in a commercial for an ice-cream called the Moonshot!

They tried to make a TV studio look like the panels of a rocket or mission control.

Like many kids from that generation, I would make models of rockets and the Lunar Landing module.

One of my prized toys of my youth was a rescue ship Vertibird where you operated a helicopter to rescue an astronaut after splashdown! Did you have a Vertibird?

And of course there was Anthony Nelson (a young Larry Hagman) as an astronaut in “I Dream of Jeannie”.

Now I won’t mention any names – but one of my mates still has a collection of Robots and rocketships and even an astronaut version of Barbie. He assures me that the astronaut Barbie is a “recent acquisition”  for his daughter. 🙂

It’s Ok if you are feeling a bit sentimental at this time for that unique time.

A friend of mine sent me a clip of Billy Bragg singing about the feelings of kids of the space era – the hope (and the disappointment). He sums up the feeling so beautifully.  Enjoy!

Were you a fan-dau of Spandau Ballet?

Were you a fan-dau of Spandau Ballet? I saw a hilarious earler episode of Modern Family last night.

Claire arranges a special anniversary for present – a visit from one of the former members of Spandau Ballet – fictional of course! Claire thought “True” was “their” (Claire and Phil’s) song.

In the episode spoke about  Spandau fans called fan-daus and it got me thinking how I was a fan-dau of the Spandau!

Come on admit it – were you a fan-dau?  It’s safe to admit it now with the passing of time.

I remember being so impressed when I first saw the video of “To Cut a Long Story” – especially the bass solo and Tony Hadley’s  big voice and sustained note at the end…..I lost my miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind!

The latter Spandau (Parade album) was an era of  leather jackets with massive shoulder pads and I was so proud of one I had.  I also had a great thin white leather tie (wish I knew where that went!) and a blue shirt – a combination inspired by another big New Romantic band of that period – Duran Duran.

A lot of my musical mates hated the New Romantic  bands and period – lots of preening popinjays in puffy pirate shirts! I always saw a  similarity to the aspirational and fashionable preening style  of the 1960s Mods.

A friend of mine, Ana, who was a massive  Fan-dau told me about a lead singer Tony Hadley performing at a Leagues club in Sydney and I went along and absolutely loved it. It was a local backing band (not Spandau Ballet) and it was hilarious to see all these mature women acting like screaming teenagers.

“True” seemed to last forever and Tony really “milked” it and the crowd loved it.

My wife and I also saw the “real” Spandau Ballet (original band) when they toured a few years later. My wife was up dancing to almost every song and the band was super tight and I reckon lots of Fan-daus were very happy that night!

More recently – I was preparing for a corporate training workshop in a tall corporate tower in Sydney. I was listening to some Duran Duran as I was setting up the room. Three senior female execs at the place I was training came in and we started talking about Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet and this talk “took them to happy place” – their teenage years.

It turned out these  serious corporate executives were big Fan-daus and it was a great “bonding” experience!

Ah – the bonding power of music and fan-dom!

Also, if you haven’t seen that earlier Fan-dau episode of Modern Family – it’s a hoot!

Please share your memories of Spandau Ballet and the New Romantic period.

Also if you are in the mood for a hit of Spandau – here is a link to the clip ‘To Cut A long Story Short”