Fresh Retro Juice

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childhood

An Ode To My Beloved Council Estate

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The sun sets and the light dips, bends and smashes against the side of a block of flats.

“Let there be light!” As I sit staring through my office window at a tiny bug strangulated by a spider web.

The golden spotlight hovers over the council estate across the road, and my mind takes a quick two step back to when we were children of misfits. Creating a world of adventure amongst the empty carrier bags, graffiti brickwork and uneven pavements.

It was time when community meant that you actually knew your neighbours. Yes, even the shouty old dude 3 doors down who always refused to throw our ball back. And the Asian family opposite who celebrated a wedding for about a month, with saffron coloured garlands draped from the garden fence.

It was time when the street lights dictated your curfew.

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It was time when your lungs would collapse with exhaustion from archaic primitive forms of play. Curbsy, Bust 21, fashioning a broken twig to the spokes of my BMX to make it sound like a motorbike.

It was a time when an adult regardless of whether you knew them or not, had the authority to scold you with words like, “get down off that wall you little shit!”

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It was a time when hanging out at the end of your road in the summer holidays meant innocent magical times, devoid of intimidation and adolescent tomfoolery.

It was a time when you knocked the front door of your friend’s house, waited patiently, and then addressed the grown up with the correct Mr or Mrs prefix, asking if your friend could come out to play.

It was a time when everyone gathered en masse if a fight kicked off with a warring enemy estate. Huddled together, not entirely sure what you could offer except a splash of bravado and shouts of “wanker” from afar.

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It was a time when skipping over broken glass, used condoms and pages ripped from a pornographic magazine, paved the way to the local derelict park. Broken swings wrapped around the metal frames and a slide everyone was too scared to go on because someone’s dog had shat all over it last week.

It was a time when we were told to avoid the scary piss stained alleyways at night, and to never engage in conversation with the man who had the odd but purposeful walk.

It was a time when normality meant watching your father coax a young suicidal lad from the rooftop of the flats. Or watching your best friend’s sister being punched across the garage forecourt by her abusive husband.

It was time when the shrill car sirens of Babylon muddled with raised voices, offered the backing track to many theatrical evenings.

It was a time when your childhood innocence was inhaled greedily like a class A substance by the lewd, smiling face of the man your parents warned you about. The man with the odd purposeful walk. The man who openly stroked his penis in front of you that one time you stood outside the corner shop waiting for your mum.

It was a time when you were too busy playing to notice it was in fact the last time you would be out playing. It was a time when you grew up.

Friends moved away and your once loved village of urbanite warriors, fractured into pockets of race wars, drug dealers and the classless act of unwanted furniture being brazenly dumped in the middle of your road.

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It was time to leave.

The sun sets and the light dips, bends and smashes against the side of a block of flats. I retreat into the comfort of my overpriced office chair and remove my rose-tinted specs. But just for a moment.

The Nostalgia Project: Talking About The 90s

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After one too many coffees and re-runs of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air my mind went wandering to a simpler time where adulting didn’t exist! After one magnificent brain burp I came up with this silly ditty in homage to my much loved 90s childhood. I’d love to go back to 1993 just for a day… and dream about what I want to be when I grow up! Sometimes a little bit of nostalgia is necessary to just tickle you in the feels for no real reason at all!

Enjoy…!

5 Retro Bikes From Your Childhood

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Going for bike rides as a kid was one of my fondest memories. Grabbing my red BMX from the shed with my older brother and leaving for the morning to go on epic cycling adventures around our estate, made the summer holidays for me. Zigzagging through alleyways, mounting cracked pavements and dodging broken glass/dog shit simply upped the level of dangerous fun! (I mean, if you didn’t ride through, step in or fall into dog crap as a kid, did you really have a childhood?!) I remember watching BMX Bandits with Nicole Kidman's giant hair and trying to emulate being a crime fighting BMX pro racer… and failing miserably! Thinking back to the retro bicycles that made my childhood, here are my top 5 picks!

Raleigh Chopper

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Now this bike was a little before my time manufactured in the 70s, however I cannot disregard the seminal status of it. I remember a friend of my older brother had one of these and to me being a small child who clearly knew nothing, thought that it looked so hideously uncool.

Me as an adult realising I have blasphemed against the Chopper gods... and being beaten accordingly!

Me as an adult realising I have blasphemed against the Chopper gods... and being beaten accordingly!

All I know is that going on bike rides with my brother and his mate always slowed us down because the big clunky thing was rubbish at getting up and down curbs!

Raleigh Burner

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This supreme bike was first launched in 1982. It was iconic in the BMX craze of the 80s where everyone had some sort of variation of this model, and if you didn’t… then you only wished you did! It didn’t matter if you couldn’t ‘do tricks’ because fashioning a plank of wood over a few stacked bricks... and then trying to ride over this without it breaking was BASICALLY the same as doing bunny hop 360!

Raleigh Street Wolf

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This little BMX was on another level of futuristic amazingness and I would 100% still ride this bike now! Released in 1987 this was a coveted possession of many children and created a shit load of jealousy amongst those (like me) who never had the pleasure of owning one. The main pull of this bike was the electronic sound box device attached to the handlebars, which obviously was used when trying to roleplay your favourite shady-government-undercover cop show.

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Racing Bikes

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This was a bicycle that was specifically designed for competitive road racing and was huge in the 80s and early 90s. However, there was approximately zero people I knew growing up who owned a racer to compete in anything! The thin wheels used to always boggle my brain and for some reason flipping and reversing the handlebars was deemed ‘cool’.

But why though?!

But why though?!

For me and my pals it was just another bicycle trend that we salivated over in the Argos catalogue hoping our parents would have a word with Santa!

Mountain Bike

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This bike was designed for off-road action and traversing difficult terrain. Yet I rode mine to the corner shop and back and for a 'Cycling Awareness' at school! In the 1990s owning a mountain bike was just standard protocol. Racers were out, and mountain bikes were in! They usually came with a ‘jazzy’ frame design (splashed with an impressive name like Apollo) and you pimped it out with clashing neon toe clips, a water bottle holder and handlebar extensions that were all entirely unnecessary!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!