All Posts by Michael

The Summer Ice-Lolly-days Are Here!

Summer’s fab for nostalgic memories. So many things that were the garnish to the main dish of non-stop, long, hot summer days (I know… they weren’t really like that except for 1976… but with my hippy-style rose-tinted nostalgic glasses on they were) and which are now long since gone.

Where to start on the nostalgia fest?

Where better than at “The Chocolate Box” – the little sweetshop at the end of our road when I was little.

And on those hottest of hot summer days, it was the buzzing white chest freezer in the sweetshop that became of extra special interest… the one with Walls stickers all over it.

Or maybe Lyons Maid… I forget.

But it was crammed with ice creams and ice lollies – veritable treasure memories in 2020.

There were so many fun ice lollies… lollies very much of their moment but one thing that really takes me back isn’t a lolly at all.

In fact I’d forgotten all about it until I started writing this…

…it’s what we used to have in a cornet…

…not the whirly swirly cones that you’d get from the Mr Whippy or Mr Softee ice cream van (we used to look at those so longingly… and the thought of a 99 was just too exciting for words… a distant dream)…

… oh no…

…a brick of vanilla ice cream that came wrapped in paper. You peeled off the paper and plopped the brock into the conveniently shaped rectangular cone… et voilà.

I genuinely thought for many years that vanilla was another word for boring!

We certainly didn’t know is as a Coola Bar as shown in the poster below…

Maybe that was the marketing department trying to make it a bit sexier!

Good luck with that!


Occasionally we’d have a variation on the theme… an ice cream sandwich… 2 rectangular wafers with the block of ice-cream in the middle… which frequently turned into a right drip-fest because you had no cornet to funnel the drips and the 4 sides of the sandwich to defend at the same time!

Bear in mind this is long before the myriad Magnum variants that abound these days and even before the eyewateringly expensive (at the time) Cornetto came to see the light of day…

I remember a 2 Ronnies song where they sang (same tune as the advert) “Just 1 Cornetto, give it to me…. Not flipping likely, they’re 50p!” At the time pretty well every other lolly would have been 15p or 20p tops from memory… so they were a rare old treat!

Also did you know that Roger Moore (007 himself) was allegedly, apparently involved in the creation of the Magnum (or maybe not, depending on who you believe).

Finally, I’m on a roll, did you know that Margaret Thatcher (yes, that one!) worked for J Lyons (as in Lyons Maid) and allegedly, apparently created soft scoop ice cream by whipping air into it.

Who knows if those are really true or not… but they’re good stories!

Anyhow… back to firmer ground… feast your eyes on this little lot… bring back any memories?


And a little later… after decimalisation…


My all time favourite’s in there… can you guess which one?

And I chomped on many a Count Dracula too… purple lips agogo!

Can you see the jokes on the lolly sticks in that image? Why on earth did they stop those? You got to read the question when you started your lolly and you had all of the licking, slurping time to work out what the answer way.

It was a brilliant concept…. so why did they spoil the fun and stop printing the jokes???


Back to the lollies… cocktail anyone? I don’t recall this lolly… was it nice? It doesn’t seem right a 7 year old going into a shop and asking for a Brandy Alexander… that’s just plain wrong!

They made a Pina Colada one too… I’d have given that a whirl, even at 7…


I was rather partial to this cider flavoured lolly…. remember it?

Soooo grown up!


But my own personal favourite… the one that I really miss… which has already set my mouth watering…

…chocolatey on the outside at the top (actually it was more than likely “chocolate flavour coating” back then not real chocolate…

…then delicious rich banana flavour ice cream wich surrounded…

… a smooth, rich toffee centre… banoffee on a stick if you like.



Last but not least, and even I’m too young to remember this (just), did anyone ever try this lolly with surely the best name ever?


Just imagine walking into a shop…

“I’ll have a Kinky, please”!

What’s In Your Pocket?

Back in the 70’s there was a British toy company called Palitoy.

Ring any bells?

They made my sister’s favourite doll at the time… Penny Puppywalker…

Sadly, and I have no idea why, I can still remember the flipping advert… and now I can’t get it out of my head…

“Penny Puppywalker…
Take Penny Puppywalker for a walk
She walks her dog just like you
Squeeze one little air button and she walks with you
Squeeze the other button and her dog walks too…
Penny Puppywalker… “

I’m so sad…

I didn’t look any of that up…

I just remember it (and the tune too)…

and it’s going round and round in my head…



Enough about Penny and her pesky, plastic, pneumatic, perambulating pooch.

Palitoy also made a particular range of games that were everywhere…

For while anyway…

I bet you had one.

Do you remember Pocketeers?


I bet you will once you see a few of them…

They were pocket sized games that, from what I can find, were launched around 1975.


Now I owe a lot of the content in this post to a stunning resource I found online called “World of Stuart”.

It hasn’t been updated since 2010… and the “contact” page doesn’t work so I haven’t been able to contact the aforementioned Stuart (Stuart Campbell) to ask his permission to borrow his content… so I hope that explaining all that and giving a link to the appropriate pages of “World of Stuart” in what follows, will prevent me from getting into too much hot water!


Pocketeers were pretty simple games, generally for one person. They were all the rage… for a while.

Many a long coach journey was made slightly more bearable by our little pocket entertainment systems.

I owned the “done what it says on the tin” game… Rock ‘n Roll.

All of the ball bearings started in the top section, you released them one by one and, using the red balances (which you tipped from left to right), you navigated the ball down to the bottom, trying to score as many points as possible.

Rock n Roll Baby!

It was essential toilet entertainment for many a “sitting” (if you know what I mean)… but, like so many games, there was a trick to it.

The critical factor was the slope on which you put the game (so that gravity progressed the ballbearing downwards).

Too steep and it was impossible to score more than about 20.

But nice and shallow and 20 from each ball was a doddle…

I think that’s probably why I soon reverted to Whizzer and Chips for my sitting down entertainment.

With the gravity secret the challenge had gone.

Pesky Isaac Newton!

Other children at school had different, some more exciting-looking games than my balancing one.

I remember the driving game, Rally…

“Rally” (ooh the graphics!)

The “kept my attention for about 15 seconds, the name sounded good but what’s the point” Grand Prix

Grand zzzzz

A poker game that I don’t think that I ever really understood…

Poker (can’t think of anything witty, sorry!)

I could have sworn that there was a 2 player basketball game where you placed the game upright on it’s long side and each person had to flick a button to try to get a ball into the basket at the opposite end. But I can’t find on the Pocketeer page…

Does anyone remember that… or am I just going doolally?

I think though, that the most iconic of all the Pocketeers games has to be this one: Fruit Machine.

I seem to remember it was the most sought after in the playground, with my Rock ‘n Roll lagging at the back of that particular hit parade.

Does this image bring back any memories for you?

As I say, thank you to Stuart for all of these images.

There are loads more Pocketeers (many of which I don’t remember) here: And there’s also a picture of the original boxes that each Pocketeer came in… and those boxes bring back a load of memories too I can tell you. Take a look and enjoy.

Do you have any memories of Pocketeers?

Even better, do you still own one of them?

If you do (to either of the above… or if you know any more about that basketball game that I may have fabricated in my head) please share your memories in the comments section below.

I think we all need cheering up at the moment…

Stay safe…


Things that make you go hmmm (or ewww!)

Did you get the 1990’s music reference in the title? See more here:

When I say hmmm I don’t mean it in a good way… these are things where manufacturers seemed hell-bent on spoiling really good things with rubbish options.

For instance… (and I was going to paste a picture here but clearly the manufacturers have now got the hint and the offending articles don’t exist anymore)…

Jam tarts – the ones you buy at the shops… (but which clearly I haven’t bought for ages!)…

Red one = Delicious

Yellow one = Delicious

But the green ones…

Why did they do that? Yes it made the packet look like a traffic light but…


They were always the ones you ate once the red and yellow ones had gone.

Sorry Mr Kipling but the green ones were anything but exceedingly good!

And what about Jelly Babies?

Would you ever choose the green one?

Now I love Jelly Babies to bits… so squidgy and chewy and moreish… but even I always get a slight sinking feeling when I get a green one.

Don’t you?

What about Milk Tray bars? Do you remember them?

How good were they?

A box of chocolates but in a bar…

Fudge… yum

Caramel… yum etc etc…

7 of the 8 flavours were delicious…

But Lime Cordial?

What is it about green sweet things?

Do manufacturers put them in to make us appreciate all of the other options even more?

Were they just sadistic?

Or did they never bother to actually ask people what they wanted?

I’m sure there must have been loads more things like this too… rubbish items in an otherwise tasty selection…

For me I would include the pink and blue aniseedy sweets in a bag of liquorice allsorts…

Not my cup of tea at all… but I understand that they are probably marmite sweets… some people hate them but others love them.

That’s fair. But green jam tarts? Just plain wrong.

Did anything make you feel the same? Do share in the comments below!

Christmas TV Times

One of the mid-December highlights for us when we were little was the arrival of the Christmas editions of the Radio and TV Times.

We didn’t get either guide throughout the rest of the year (we just used the newspaper listings)… and that made the event even more special.

Plus they were double editions, each crammed with 14 days of prime televisual delights.

How exciting was that?

Just to put things into context (I’m sure that you know this already but I’ll say it just in case…)…

These were the days when there were just 3 television channels… BBC1, BBC2 and ITV.

That concept completely scrambles the brains of our children (11 and younger) and when I try to explain further they just glaze over… they just can’t comprehend…

There was no television on demand. If you wanted to watch something you had to actually be sitting on front of the box at the prescribed time… or you missed it!

No video recorders.

No DVDs.

No satellite tv.

No Youtube.

No internet.

None of these things had even appeared on Tomorrow’s World back then!

Raymond Baxter, William Woollard and Judith Hann were completely oblivious to them all!

3 channels… that was it.

And even those 3 weren’t on 24 hours a day… they went to sleepy byebyes…

Cue the national anthem…

That hissing “we’re not broadcasting anything” snow (how many times have you woken up on the sofa with that on the telly? And you couldn’t just switch it off using the remote… because remote controls didn’t exist either!)

Or the test card.

Anyhoo… back to the TV guides.

When they arrived we’d carefully comb through them, pencils poised to ring the most important items, to find the cream of the television to watch in the run-up to the big day.

Pretty well every programme seemed to have a Christmas Special back then (iinvariably filmed in the preceding (phew what a scorcher!) July or August… how weird must that have been, especially in the rasping hot, “Bob Wellings of Nationwide cooking an egg on a car bonnet”, pavement melting summer of 1977?).

The Christmas Specials were the best programmes of the year by far. Everyone was so happy and so positive!

The ones I particularly liked were the comedy shows. Comedy was pretty well ruled by double acts back then… Morecambe and Wise, Little and Large, Cannon and Ball, Mike and Bernie Winters (remember them?), Bernie Winters and Schnorbitz (!), Basil Brush and whichever mug was sitting next to him at the time (!), Les Dennis and Dustin Gee (bet you’d completely forgotten they were a double act), Trevor and Simon (whatever happened to them after Going Live?), Hale and Pace etc etc.

Les Dennis and Dustin Gee

I know I’ve drifted around the eras a little there but, as you can see, double acts were BIG!

And then there were the single comics… Benny Hill, Dick Emery, Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd, Mike Yarwood (I know he was an impressionist rather than a comic as such but it’s the same sort of genre), Dave Allen…

And one thing that became very clear from our extensive research was that both the BBC and ITV had an internal league table for their comedy acts… a pecking order if you like.

The lower down the pecking order the act, the earlier in December their Christmas show appeared.

A sort of amuse-bouche for the better stuff to follow.

And so (and please don’t take offense from this if I put someone you particularly like down the pecking order… this is just me working from my somewhat patchy memory)…

The early days of the schedules would feature entertainment like the Stanley Baxter Christmas Show… I don’t think I ever watched that, did you?

And back in the day, before they scaled to loftier heights over the years, it would also be the domain of Little and Large (who, I always felt, needed those higher up the ratings to depart for one reason or another because they were never going to oust them).

This was also the time when Bernie Winters would appear from memory… either accompanied by brother Mike (until they split up, apparently due to Bernie being far too friendly with a dancer who was 20 years younger than him… bet you didn’t know that, did you?) or Schnorbitz (who didn’t care so much about what Bernie did in his private life as long as he kept supplying the sausages!).

As December progressed the comedy improved as the BBC and ITV wheeled out their heavier hitters.

Dick Emery would appear on Christmas Eve… close but not quite the cream of the crop…

The sort of Michael Collins fate… I mean imagine being in Apollo 11 and being the one who didn’t get to walk on the moon…

Christmas Day would be slated for a veritable feast of Comedy Gold…

Morecambe and Wise…

The Two Ronnies…

Mike Yarwood (he was MASSIVE from what I can remember)

Dave Allen… (I’m talking about Dave Allen from my perspective now… he was on far too late for us to know anything about him back then!)

But as we read through the TV Guides that made the torture even more extreme for us.

The best television of the year in a single day.

The best films, the best comedy, the best everything.

And all on the one day of the year when, traditionally, we did not turn the television on at all.

So we missed the lot.

And instead of watching all of that what did we do instead?

Rubbish things like playing board games, going for walks, reading stories, talking to each other (!), colouring in, trying to work out what was in the presents under the tree, playing “spot the xxx” on the Christmas tree… you get the idea.

So when we were ploughing through the Radio and TV Times back in mid-December it seemed like we were going to miss out on the best bits.

But we wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Did this bring back any memories for you? If it did then please share them below!

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