1981

THE ups-and-downs of life’s rollercoaster are encapsulated in the Larne Times archive.

It seems things have come full circle for the town’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau which, as reported in last week’s edition, urgently needs more money from Larne Borough Council if it is to meet public demand. Thirty years ago, the Times reported that the council had voted against putting up £2,500 required for setting up a CAB office in the first place.

l In 1981, 31-year-old Pamela Stephenson was part of the Not The Nine O’Clock News team which had picked up the baton from Monty Python and was drawing huge audiences every Monday night for satirical comedy sketches on BBC-2.

Three decades later, she was proving herself to be the fittest pensioner on Earth and finishing runner-up in Strictly Come Dancing.

This week, 30 years ago, the future Mrs Billy Connolly and eminent psychologist topped the Larne Times best seller paperbacks list with a Not The ... compendium.

Most popular hardback was Robert Kee’s epic, Ireland: A History – written and produced for TV during one of the bleakest and most violent eras of said history.

l Bob Geldof was then no more than lead singer in the Boomtown Rats, who managed to annoy reviewer David Johnston no end with their latest release.

Their fourth album, Mondo Bongo (in which the dire Banana Republic was actually a highlight), was dismissed by the Larne Times journalist as “... yet another piece of pop patchwork from a load of showband paddies who still think they’re this generation’s Rolling Stones”.

l David’s colleague, Kevin Hughes, true to form took great delight in listening to a new Roger Whittaker compilation, but was less than enthusiastic about another “Best of ..” album he’d been asked to review – from one David Bowie.

While he conceded there might be “a couple of dozen people in East Antrim who live for his music”, Kevin’s considered assessment was: “Heaven help their wit.”

l If it weren’t for the demands on space, I would reproduce here the recipe featured on the Junior Times page which showed younger readers how to make their own peppermint creams – using leftover mashed potatoes. If, like me, you are more than a little sceptical about such a seemingly unappetising combination, do what none of us could do in 1981: just Google “peppermint creams mashed potato” and see what happens.

It’s a culinary revelation. Like the first time you heard of garlic bread.

l What chance any of the supermarket chains putting on a 1981 price promotion? None at all, given that Stewarts (there’s a blast from the past) had big tins of Heinz beans at 17p, 24 Wheatabix for 42p and 80 tea bags for 47p.

l And finally: it looked like the rollercoaster was in danger of derailment in Ballymena, where they had only recently quit chaining up the children’s swings on Sundays. Was that why a charity felt emboldened to advertise its latest Saturday night fundraiser as a “Strictly Adult Partner Dance”?