I Love 1991

Saturday, August 25, 2001 by

I have always wondered what nostalgia was. Sure, I can look it up in the dictionary any time I want, but what does it actually mean to me? As far as I am concerned, it is the ability to look back fondly on something. Whether it be personal or shared memories that everyone had, like Aberdeen winning the Cup-Winner’s Cup or how the Moon Landings must have felt, we can look back fondly on these events and say, ” I remember that, and it was alright.”

Of course, it’s hard to look back at something that’s right on your shoulder. The 1990s have just finished and by the time this series ends it will be looking back on events of two years ago. How can this work? At this stage that isn’t so much of a problem, as a lot can happen in two years, but later editions could turn into the most pointless piece of TV I have ever seen. We shall see …

I tend not to think that 1991 was “alright”. 1991 was the worst year of my life. Horrible, horrible times I shudder to think back on – you don’t need to know the details. I have few fond memories of 1991, but perhaps this was why I was so keen to see this edition – and to review it here. Perhaps this is a kind of growing, healing process. If I can find some good in here, the dark days of my middle teens may be partly exorcised.

Unfortunately the first item has nothing for me – except confusion. The Chippendales have never really been “my bag” and unless I go through a major lifestyle change (that my wife may not agree to) they probably never will. I see no attraction or enjoyment in watching grown, muscled, oily men jump around on a stage – but then I did once go and see live wrestling. Go figure. I am also confused because to me this was a late ’80s thing. I feel like all my memory has been shunted forward slightly; a feeling I will relive several times tonight. Particularly if there are any Irish soul bands involved.

Right on cue, The Commitments hove into view. I have a friend, who loathes this film with a passion, which I think is a shame. It’s rather nice, although it’s overblown in places. Is it the Irish Gregory’s Girl? Maybe, if that isn’t to poor a comparison. I am surprised to discover, though, that Andrew Strong was only two years older than me at the time. Bloody hell, I must be old. Again, I thought this came out in 1989. Shows how much I know.

I am then confused in a different way. What does ice cream have to do with 1991 in particular? It’s been around for ages. And then some Haagen-Dazs bloke comes on and talks about making ice cream “sexy”. I hated Haagen-Dazs. It had nuts in it and cost a bloody fortune. Give me raspberry ripple any day.

While the next segment on grunge may not be the best in this show, at least we get to hear some Nirvana and have a laugh at Richard and Judy doing a makeover to make people look “grunge”. Hilarious. One of them looked like Alexei Lalas, famous ginger-headed US footballer who once scored against England. With a Davy Crockett hat. I was never into grunge as a whole, but the music was passable. This section tells us nothing particularly new – once a style is assimilated by the mainstream you kill it, be it punk or grunge. However, some good Nirvana clips and an interview with the the cover star of Nevermind make this all worthwhile.

In 1991 Vic Reeves was a God (although his links here are – ahem – “shit, sir”) and the Big Night Out was must-see TV for my peergroup. I won’t pretend I understood what was going on, but it was funny stuff all the same. At least here Vic (or Jim as he is captioned) and Bob are talking sense, and to see Fred Aylward (Les) again is great. What’s interesting to examine is how their act has changed in 10 years. It’s been refined, and mutated into something similar yet utterly different at the same time.

Bloody Right Said Fred! One hit wonders I say. I’m Too Sexy was fun, but after that you began to wonder what the point was. They’re still around as well. I wish they weren’t. I’d rather see more of the Bernard Cribbins video they showed at the start of this slot. What I find amusing is that they describe themselves as “candy floss twats” who were reduced to “waving for a living”. Hey, stick to what you’re good at, that’s what I always say.

I never had a Sega. Or a Nintendo. The best my family had was a Colecovision. We were poor but we were happy. However, that doesn’t mean this whole computer games rivalry passed me by. This was big stuff at school. Hordes of children arguing over which system was best. As any fool will tell you, the Megadrive was king and Sensible Soccer still rules.

I have no interest in “Superstar DJ’s” I also have no idea why this is particularly concerned with 1991. I thought this was a recent phenomenon. Obviously not. What the hell is Piano House? Rozalla? Chrystal Waters? I thought these people were dead. This music is horrible and even though it’s only 10 years old seems to have dated far more than a lot of ’70s and ’80s stuff.

Sex is always worth a cheap giggle, so here we have a quick peek at The Lover’s Guide. And not even a giggle. I have never seen this, or any of the many sequels – or rip-offs. I was 14 in 1991, I couldn’t even buy porn. But that’s not important right now.

So that was 1991. A curious mix of the ridiculous and the actually quite good. It’s still the worst year of my life, but now there is some comfort in that there was some good stuff dotted around. What was strange was how much has changed. Music, fashions, even TV has all altered. 10 years is a long time and you can never go back.

But how I wish I could.


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