Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Charles Jennings. (5/5)

Jumble sale, Dulwich, circa 1980. Photo © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

Make Do and Mend 

Between The Buttons: What Mothers Can Do To Save Buying New. (I got up so late I only had time to put on me flippin’ slacks )

A woman sat, in unwomanly rags (Our backs were covered up, more or less, but the other way round was a big success). But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment.

Recycled Clothing Sculpture Making Project: My shirts are made from Mum’s old drawers.

It depends how many boots he’s got to mend. I brought him home six and a half pairs today.

The handbags and the gladrags: These fragments I have shored against my ruins

(Taken from: Gert & Daisy; The Rag Trade; Make Do And Mend; Thomas Hood; Matthew, xi 7; The Goon Show; The Rolling Stones; Steptoe & Son; Rod Stewart; T. S. Eliot)


Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Tim Wells (4/5)

Watching the Lord Mayor’s Show, 1980. © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

Epsolutely by Tim Wells:

Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

The first time I met the parents of my girlfriend Alexis they put on extra posh accents to impress. They were sweet, so was the tea, and already far posher than me. It only took one ‘Ello, luverly to meet you’ from me for them to realise they’d over-invested. But by then they couldn’t back down. Alexis whispered that they weren’t normally that posh and all she’d told them about me was that I was lovely. But they knew, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, that…

Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

Bin men pick up rubbish bags with their pinky fingers daintily extended, John Nettles is the law and the starlings sing ‘You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful…’ in Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

I bought my girl chocolates. There were only Conscious Chocolate, Green & Black’s and Seeds of Change in the pristine shops. Middle-class chocolates with centres such as ‘the better part of town’, ‘a good college’ and ‘a bit of rough’ in Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

There are no coincidences but sometimes the pattern is more obvious. In Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

Alexis had a Porsche, in ‘not red dahling; scarlet’. She’d motor to Marks and Spencer’s, to the Downs and to country pubs for lunch. On our first outing she squeezed me in and sped off in a polite cough of dust. A few miles on she remarked worriedly that the car seemed to be dragging to the left. She drove a bit further and then pulled over. She walked around the sportster but could not find fault, drove further and said that the car was still not right. I asked her how many other fat blokes she’d had in there before?

I got the train back from Epsom, let me tell you about Epsom.

© Tim Wells.

Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Various. (3/5)

‘Oops!’ (Rowing Boat Song), Hen Night, South London pub, circa 1980. © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

From Do You Remember? Forums

What was that dance called?

Posted by Bruce, 05/04/2005:

I remember a dance where you all sat in a line on the floor with your legs astride the person in front and then swayed from side to side and stuff. What was that dance called and what song was it meant to go with?

Posted by Precious Jewels, 08/04/2005:

It was for ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ by the Gap Band…Sweet reminiscing of discos growing up! Did it have a name for the actual dance?!

Posted by lionlevy, 19/04/2005:

Assorted aunties used to refer to it as “that boat song…” Very popular with aged relatives for some reason, despite their assorted dodgy arthritis & rheumatism doing its best to hinder them.

Posted by scallycapsforever, 09/08/2005:

Yeah the row boat song. A classic at family dos the length and breadth of the country it was also hilariously lampooned on ‘Men Behaving Badly’ to ‘Sailing’ by Rod Stewart.

Posted by Zen Master, 30/04/2005:

Not sure of the name of the dance but the song was a group called Forest, I will find the title later, was played at a birthday evening or event. Great fun all innocent……fun.

Posted by Clive Henry Jones, 27/06/2005:

Yeah, Forrest did “Rock the Boat” but it was a cover of The Hues Corporation’s original. This track was not a dedicated dance track, though, as “Oops upside your head” was (Rowing boat dance). As a DJ, I stll play “Oops” at mixed aged parties because:
a. It’s a good track which fills the dancefloor.
b. You get to look up women’s skirts as they get down (and up) – all innocent, though and I dare you to try to not look and see who’s wearing suspenders & who’s not.
c. You usually gety some saddo walking up and down the line of “rowers” whipping them with his tie.

Posted by SG1973, 26/05/2007:

Saw an interview on tv with the Gap Band and they said when they first came to England to do TOTP they couldn’t understand why everyone sat on the floor swaying from side to side. They’d never seen it done before. Must be an English eccentricity thing.

Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Charles Jennings. (2/5)

Sloane Rangers, Kensington, 1983. © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

Society Wedding by Charles Jennings: 

‘The Boltons, yes. And I mean, the Queen Mother’s actually been there, to dinner, apparently.’


‘But apparently she didn’t sign the visitors’ book.’

‘Well, she wouldn’t would she?’

‘So of course, James’ – the boyfriend – ‘had to volunteer first, so they gave him a box of watercolours and a brush. And he spent ages trying to get the watercolours to go on the brush, but he’d forgotten that he needed some water first.’

‘He’s so sweet, James, so funny.’

‘Thing is, Emma had James’ Jack Russell as a bridesmaid –‘

‘As in a dog?’

‘So sweet!’

‘Emma phoned, the honeymoon was fab, wants to meet up –‘

‘Istanbul? I know that city, actually. Went with Simon and Gemma and Charlie last summer. Charlie’s so funny, he stood outside that big mosque and – ’

‘Why couldn’t she make it tonight?’

‘Dinner with James’ grandmother. She’s ninety and lives in a tiny flat on Trafalgar Square.’

‘I didn’t know anyone lived there!’

So sweet!’

… for The London Column. © Charles Jennings 2011.