1981 was a big year for me, in no particular order I passed my HNC, brought my first house, got married and had a major car crash.
I was on my way to college when a car coming the opposite direction on the dual carriageway crossed the central reservation at speed and slammed in to the front driver’s side wing significantly rearranging the shape of my Ford Capri and pushing the steering wheel up to the roof. What I remember most was all the people that stopped to help, a guy sat in the passenger seat and keep me talking while others prised open the bonnet to disconnect the battery, even my college bag was removed and kept safe. You wouldn’t worry about the bag now because you have backed up everything and its “in the cloud” but in 1981 mine was all written in blue ballpoint pen on paper, there was a lot of work in that bag.
I was trapped where the metalwork behind the engine compartment had been forced back and folded up around my feet but luckily not badly, I pulled my foot out of my moccasin and when the fire brigade arrived away we went. I had been conscious the whole time, then they turned me around to put me in the ambulance and I saw how badly damaged the front of the car was and I passed out, give me the oxygen. I ended up with a broken ankle and my face and mouth smashed up and a tooth missing. Someone went to have a look in the car for a missing tooth, it wasn’t found. They stitched my tongue back together, it didn’t stay stitched and it smelt revolting until a piece was removed completely. I had the same surgeon as Barry Sheen looking after the broken ankle, so it felt as though that was in good hands.
I ended up with a little bit of a pay-out but believe me, without considering anything else at all, the time effort and money spent in a lifetime of looking after the broken teeth far outweighs anything I received.
The River was the album of choice while I was laid up in bed and I still think this track is beautiful. This year’s track is Point Blank by Bruce Springsteen,
Apart from the 13 weeks I had my leg in plaster I didn’t have much time to notice anything else that was happening in the world. Even then I spent most the time trying to keep the house purchase on track, it was threating to come off the rails due to my changed financial situation, catching up with the work I had missed at college and be involved in, marginally it must be said, the planning of the wedding.
What else happened in 1981?
Over 700 million (30 million in the UK) people watch the wedding of Chuck & Di, I was not 1 of them. I still haven’t seen a royal wedding in spite of all the recent opportunities. There was rioting across the UK; Toxteth (Liverpool), Chapeltown (Leeds), Handsworth (Birmingham) and Brixton (London) the 4 main ones. After a murder spree in which he killed 13 women and attacked at least another 7 the Yorkshire Ripper is finally apprehended. Ronnie Reagan is sworn in and minutes later the Iran hostage ends.
Irish Republican Bobby Sands, and another 9 hunger strikers die during a protest about prisoner status in the Maze Prison. Also in Northern Ireland the first DeLorean rolls off the production line. The Church of England General Synod votes to admit women to holy orders, Moira Stuart becomes the BBC’s 1st black newsreader. Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp is set up. We (in the UK) start buying fuel by the litre. Rupert Murdoch buys the Times, the Social Democratic Party is formed by the gang of 4 and Ken Livingstone becomes leader of the GLC. The Humber Bridge opens, Homebase opens its first DIY store and Clive Sinclair launches ZX81 home computer.
In the wider world assassination attempts are up – Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman and Anwar Sadat of Egypt are both killed, and pot shots were taken at the Pope, Ronald Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II had blanks fired at her. According to IMDB there was even a Russian movie called assassination attempt.
Sport; Botham and Willis combine for England to win the Headingley test after following on, Muhammad Ali loses to Trevor Berbick (Ali’s last-ever fight), the first London Marathon starts with 7,500 runners. The football league starts playing games on Sundays.
MTV launches with, “Video Killed the Radio Star”, Simon & Garfunkel perform The Concert in Central Park, Bucks Fizz’ win the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest with “Making Your Mind Up” Bob Marley dies from cancer aged 36. Tom Baker leaves Dr Who, Brideshead Revisited, Only Fools and Horses and Postman Pat are first aired, Chariots of Fire is on at the pictures and Cats opens in London.