Thursday, 5 November 2009

1990 - So near and yet so far

In two months time it will be January 2010 and a new decade, which means that the year 1990 will be 20 years ago. It is the first year ending in a zero that I can properly remember. I can't remember hardly anything happened in 1980, and I wasn't here in 1970. Nor had I even been thought of.

To me, it seems that 1990 in some ways was recent, as there were computers, computer games rap music and CD's around. Soccer teams played with sponsors on their shirts and a lot of music was similar to today. And yet, in many other ways, 1990 seems so long ago and so distant.

My parents went out on the final night of 1989. That night, I slept at my Grandmothers house. She was then an active, vigorous and energetic 72-year-old. I remember that she went to bed at about 10.30pm, and I stayed up, watching TV until just after midnight, then I went to bed. I watched Cilla Black's Goodbye to the '80's, on ITV, made by the now defunct London Weekend Television.

The year before, my mum started legal action for a neck injury she suffered when working as a cleaner for Tesco supermarkets. Her accident occurred on Tuesday 28th March 1989. My mum was given Legal Aid, (I'm from a solidly working-class family. It is bollocks that you have to be mMiddle and upper-class to have Asperger's Syndrome or Autistic. That is about as credible as saying that one's upbringing makes one Autistic, or that the Earth is flat or the Earth revolves around the Sun. If you have to be middle or upper-class to be Autistic or have AS, then I obviously need more money!).

Tesco fought all the way. Then, suddenly, at the end of September 1990, around the 26th, the week before the case was due to go to court. They capitulated, and settled, paying my mum compensation and her legal fees. Why did they capitulate if they had a good case? Two weeks later, my mum had a big bingo win. It was also her birthday, so 1990 was quite a good year for my her.

On Thursday 25th January, there was a terrible storm. Forty-seven people were killed, and two slates blew off our roof. I was in the bath when it happened, at about 5.30pm. I saw the film "Rainman", for the first ever time, on video, on the snowy night of Wednesday 28th February, and I failed to make any connection with Babitt and myself. I was suspended from Secondary School on Thursday 5th April, threatened with explusion, and put on report for a week when I returned, as was the person I fought with. Two days later I got my dad to put some money on a Horse for me, Mr Frisk, which won.

On Saturday 2nd June, I went on a bicycle ride with a friend. We went through a cemetery and saw a grave of his late relation, who died on Friday 25th February 1966, at the age of 66. Then, 11 days later, On Wednesday 13th June, though I loathed my time at Secondary School, I was awarded a "Merit Slip" for my contribution to a Geography lesson, and everybody in the class applauded me when I had finished talking about the Suez crisis of 1956, in Egypt.

My late Grandfather, Thomas Phillips, was into antiques, and in June, he managed to get hold of an antique chair. My dad's younger brother, Tony, brought it to our house and my dad did it up by sanding and then varnishing it. They sold it and split the profits three-ways. In July, me and a friend, who lived across the street, camped out in his garden for the first time. I didn't go on holiday that year. I hadn't been abroad by 1990 or even visited London. Both of these events occurred in the naughties, so as far as I was concerned in 1990, they were in the distant future.

I celebrated my 14th birthday on Monday 20th August. I went for a meal to a pub that was demolished in the early 2000's called the Wharncliffe. Three days later, for the first time, I deliberately provoked, and wound up, a man who was a bully, who lived on my street. Between late August and early October, I was in the habit of getting up at about 5am and going for early morning walkabouts. On Tuesday 18th December, I was bought an Amiga computer by my parents for Christmas. I had it until the Autumn of 1996, when it packed in.

We had a brilliant Spring weatherwise and a very good summer in 1990, though a wet and stormy winter. Friday 3rd August was a scorching day and temperatures reached 98F in Cheltenham, though they were about 93-94F where I live. On Saturday 4th August 1990, I slept at my Grandmother's house, where we watched the Queen Mother's 90th celebrations on TV. I remarked to my Grandmother, "I wonder if she will make 100?". My Grandmother (Then three weeks off her 73rd birthday) answered with "If she doesn't make 100, I won't make 74". Seventeen years later, on my Grandmother's 90th birthday .... I phoned her up to wish her happy birthday. She said thank you. I then said, "Just think, if you live another 10 years, you will get a congratulatory telegram from the Queen". She replied, "Yes, if the Queen is still alive then!".

Liverpool won the league title for which has, so far, been the last time for them to do so to date. Liverpool looked on course for the double, but Crystal Palace knocked them out of the semi-finals in a thriller held on Sunday 8th April. On Saturday 5th May, Leeds United and Sheffield United were promoted to the old Division one. Hooligans purporting to support Leeds United rioted at Bournemouth, where they won 1-0. I dread to think how they would have reacted had Leeds Utd lost! Manchester United won the FA Cup 1-0 in a replay, five days after a thrilling 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace that was held on Saturday 12th May. On Friday 8th June, the World Cup started in Italy, and in the first match, Cameroon beat the holders, Argentina, 1-0! England reached the semi-finals, before being beaten on penalties by West Germany on Wednesday 4th July. That match is also famous for Paul Gascoigne being booked, and his tears. West Germany beat Argentina in the final. Germany became a unified country in October 1990.

On the evening of Thursday 4th January 1990, one of the funniest sitcoms, at least in my view, in UK television history started - One Foot in the Grave. I didn't see that series. I didn't start watching it until series three, though I have seen the first two series since.

On Sunday 11th February, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa after serving 26 years inside. That very day, James Buster controversially defeated Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. On Saturday 31st March, there were massive anti-poll tax riots in London. The following day, Sunday 1st April, there were the Strangeway Prison riots in Manchester. On Thursday 2nd August, Iraq invaded Kuwait. On Friday 28th September, "Have I Got News For You" was broadcast for the first ever time. On Thursday 22nd November, Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister, to be replaced by John Major. The poll tax, low opinion poll ratings and splits over Europe brought her down. 1990 was also the year of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze. I was never into them myself.

In 1990, the Soviet Union still existed. In soccer there was no premier league. A lot of teams still played at dilapidated stadiums. Players weren't earning astronomical sums of money. You saved information on a floppy disk. There were no USB sticks. There was no mass usage of the Internet in 1990, certainly not in the UK. Mobile phones were large, cumbersome things, and hadn't gained popular currency. You didn't send text messages to anybody. There were no MP3 players in 1990. There was no Freeview. There was no single European currency. There were no DVD player's. Everybody used video recorders. There were no digital cameras. There were no plasma TV's. There was no Channel Five.

My parents didn't have a telephone in the house at the time. It was three years later, in 1993, when they got one. There were no mass Asperger's Syndrome diagnosises. I certainly hadn't heard of AS in 1990, and wouldn't for another four years. though some people had been diagnosed with AS in 1990. I was diagnosed ten years later.

In 1990 there weren't reality TV programmes, such as Big Brother or Wifeswap on TV, or Westlife churning out their dross. However, New Kids on the Block were around, and some garbage got to number one. Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikina by Timmy Mallet got to number one somehow, for four weeks. Looking at the number one list for 1990, there are three songs now that I can say I still like. Nothing Compares To You, which reached number one for four weeks on 3rd February, Vogue by Madonna, which was number one on 14th April for four weeks also, and Steve Miller's the Joker, which was number one on 15th September for two weeks.

It is certainly true that some things were better in the past. However, for me, the past is over-rated. I wouldn't want to go back and live in 1990 again. I am much happier in the present day, for all its faults and problems.

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