My granddad died in early 1984 he was 71. Throughout my childhood he was the one who I did stuff with, pottering about with him in his shed, we measured and marked and cut things up, I had to stand on a box to get to the bench. He taught me how to hold, use and sharpen a chisel – when I was about 8. “Hold the chisel in both hands, you can’t hurt yourself if you’ve got both hands on the chisel” and I had to “keep everything (not just my hands) behind the cutting edge of the chisel”. I still have all my fingers (apart from the bit that by brother chopped off with the pushchair, but that’s another story) so I must have been listening at least some of the time.
It was granddad who stripped down renovated and hand painted our 1st bikes, mine was red and yellow. He encouraged me to do the same and showed me how to take things apart and put them back together. Soapboxes (go-karts) were made with the wheels from a pram, some bits of a wardrobe and an old bed frame. There was a rule that I always had to ask before I started cutting up or cannibalising some piece of equipment, it was not always observed with the same diligence as keeping my hands on the chisel.
Granddad was also the one that said it would be alright, whatever it was it would always “be alright” and he was always right. I’ve already said (1971) that he imparted the wisdom that nobody was good at everything and that as long as I tried my best, I would find the things that I was good at, I’m sure there were others telling me this as well, but his is the voice I remember. He was pretty poorly just before he died and secretly I had already said my thanks and goodbyes, but thanks again granddad, I couldn’t have done it without you.
I got a new job. I was now an Electrical Engineer, still on the Elec’ Board I just moved to the district next door. They gave me a “hand me down” Ford Capri and (with the help of a relocation package) insisted that I move into the district. So in December 1984 we moved 30 miles up the road to Wellingborough, except that we didn’t, on the evening before the move it was announced I was going myself. Maybe it was my lack of intuition, I hadn’t seen that coming, OK there had been a couple of rows – mostly about where we were going to live, but wow that came right out of the blue and it upset me large style at the time. Granddad would have said it will be alright and from this distance I can see that it was, it was the right thing for both of us, our respective outlooks on life had changed in markedly different directions.
I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear… This Charming Man is the track for 1984 released as a single in 1983 but I’d stopped buying singles long ago, I remember waiting for the album to come out – which it did in 1984 the single wasn’t on it. I could easily have gone for Good Technology by the Red Guitars, but the Smiths got the vote in the end.
What else happened in 1984?
There was an earthquake on the Llyn Peninsula at 5.4 on the Richter scale, it’s the largest “measured onshore earthquake” in the UK. The FTSE 100 index is introduced, BT is privatised, Virgin (Atlantic) makes its 1st flight and the miners’ strike starts and the “Battle of Orgreave” takes place. There is another record high for unemployment, dog licences are abolished, and the halfpenny is withdrawn from circulation. Agreement is reached with China about the return of Hong Kong and the French for another crack at building the Channel tunnel. PC Yvonne Fletcher is shot dead on the streets of London and the Libyan embassy siege begins. The IRA attempts to assassinate Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet in the Brighton hotel bombing, while Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and others are injured in an attack by the UVF.
Elsewhere, women are flying jumbo jets and doing spacewalks for the 1st time but only just getting the vote in Lichtenstein. Australia changes its national anthem to Advance Australia Fair. The 1st Apple Macintosh and crack cocaine hit the streets of America. India has a bit of a time, the government attacks the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Indira Gandhi is assassinated, which is followed by retaliatory riots in which thousands of Sikhs are killed and the Bhopal, Union Carbide disaster occurs. Michael Burke alerts the world to famine in Ethiopia, his report spurs governments and Bob Geldof into action and we end the year with Do They Know It’s Christmas at number 1.
Entertainment; Springsteen’s massive selling Born in the USA is released and Cirque du Soleil is founded. Marvin Gaye is shot dead by his father, Tommy Cooper has a massive heart attack and dies while live on TV. The films Ghostbusters and Gremlins are released, and Thomas the Tank Engine is on the small screen. Iconic novel The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is published.
The European cup is back in English (Liverpool’s) hands, the 100-year-old Home International Football Championship is held for the last time and the Soviet Union lead a retaliatory boycott the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.