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80's Kid playtime!

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Chatham Dockyard Main Gate

I grew up in a Naval town in Kent – there wasn’t much to do and my family didn’t have a lot of money to spare, so hobbies that could be done cheaply and at home were encouraged, and that’s how I got into drawing.

My earliest memory of anything art related was when I had just started school and I bought home a picture I had coloured in of a red car for my Dad, and I remember Dad praising me for it but also showing my how to colour in better, and he taught me how to colour in 1 direction and to stay in the lines all whilst Coronation Street played out in the background.

From that point forward Dad used to bring home these great big thick books full of plain paper that he got from work for me to practise my drawing in. And practise I did!

Adam Ant Prince Charming Single Cover

My next memory of drawing was copying the picture sleeves of 45 singles, images of pop stars that had huge images and like Adam Ant, Steve Strange and Debbie Harry I tried to copy them all. I remember receiving praise for these drawings and it became a hobby and I filled books of these renditions.

So it was at this point in my life where music, fashions of popstars and drawing all merged. As along with drawing the record sleeves of the 45’s my elder sisters had bought from Woolworths, it was also a family tradition to listen to the radio every Sunday evening, when they did the top 40 countdown and I'd be there with my dolls making them sing and dance along.

Then in the early 80’s my sister bought this great big boom box, so I got her hand me down old tape recorder and this took the singing and dancing dolls to a new level. Like many people my age I started taping the charts (I know naughty but it was exciting!) This new free source of entertainment would last the week as I’d pick songs from the charts for my dolls to perform the following weekend in an x-factor type show that I'd put together.

Each Sindy doll performer, needed a image to go with the song, and a poster. So after school each evening I would either be drawing in my huge books, taking massive inspiration from my sister’s record collection and Jackie Magazine that my sisters also had to draw posters to advertise my imaginary performers, or I would be making outfits out of scrap pieces of wrapping paper, old clothes or rehashing ready made dolls clothes ready for the Saturday night performance that I would make my sisters watch – occasionally I may even let them join in.

Sindy Ballerina Doll
Cherry before her popstar transformation

There could be up to 10 acts in my Saturday night show. Each one had a defined image inspired by actual pop groups from various genre's. Some of my dolls I would actually imagine where real life pop stars, and I would lip sync the song with my doll. If it was a made up group or act then I would sing the song using the voice I had assigned that doll. My created popstars not only had defined images but they had genre's too. Cherry only sang ballads and wore sparkly dresses. Her ballads could be by a number of different real artists, male or female but they had to be ballads. Gem had a punk new wave image and sang upbeat pop, her songs were 99 red ballons and Oh Mickey.

I created this whole world that was a mix of imaginative characters and my interpretation of real life people - most of all were pop stars. Getting my dolls dressed in the right out fit to fit the song was as equally important as the song I chose, so now you can see where fashion and music merged in the head of a very imaginative late 70s early 80s kid. And to this day its hard for me to listen to a song I like without creating my own performers either in a disco or pop video format, along with all the fashion and styling trimmings and I love it!

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