Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be ...




This post is inspired by so many things that I'm not sure where to start. I have to confess that it's at least partly about work avoidance - I've been off work all week (no particular reason) and I promised the younger MissToffee that I'd put down laminate flooring in her bedroom sometime this week. Well. it's Thursday, I'm out all day tomorrow and it ain't done yet ...

The immediate spur that made me want to share something with y'all was the following incident. I just opened a new packet of (warning: product placement) Kellog's Cornflakes (do I live for pleasure alone, I hear you ask) and I suddenly got that feeling of excitement that I used to get when there was the prospect of finding a small plastic figurine of some sort, buried deep within the packet. I experienced a warm glow that lasted for several seconds and then remembered that I'm a 48 year old man. But for a moment I was seven again.

And that reminded me of the line in Summertime about nostalgia:

Sittin' with your friends cause y'all reminisce
About the days growin' up and the first person you kissed
And as I think back, makes me wonder how
The smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia


And that reminded me that Summertime would have been a good shout for this week's theme, if only for the "first person you kissed" line.

And with the weather we've been having in this part of the world this week, you can almost believe that summertime is here.

And do we really need an excuse to listen to Will Smith's finest hour?

Of course, it's always summertime on the 'Spill ...

Question: what sparks up your nostalgia?

Alternative question: what's your most treasured free gift?

39 comments:

sourpus said...

Toffeeboy, empathy for your need to avoid 'work' from this corner.

I have to admit I am not by nature a very nostalgic sort - even rather resistant to it. Probably because I have never been married and everything still feels like its in front of me.

However, to answer your first question in a very general way - music, film and alcohol are the three openers of nostalgia's rococo, rose coloured porch front for me. Although, it's quite weird that old things dont seem old to me anymore - I read them as if they were written/photographed yesterday.

Free gift? I dont think I can do this one. I mean. They're free, aren't they?

Frogprincess said...

Love that song Toffee. But then I would, wouldn't I? Will Smith is a top bloke, BTW. Sez a journo friend of mine. Funny you should talk about freebies. I've just ordered ours for my organisation. Very hard to pick something you think people will (a) LIKE and (b) KEEP (c) FOR A LONG TIME. It's all about getting your logo into people's home and office - making it an accepted part of their environment, so to speak! A freebie I kept a long time was a mini mini FM radio with headphones. It was about 2cm by 2cm and great for cycling, sun-bathing etc.
---
Nostalgia sparked off by music, retro-food, SMELLS (they stay the longest in your memory apparently) and, strangely, eating a Madelaine with my cup of tea...

DarceysDad said...

For the first question -

Almost anything DarceysSis does! She's seven-and-a-half, and constantly balancing a voracious appetite for discovery with a physical nervousness at anything new. Reminds me of myself at the same age SS-SO-O-O-O-O much it's unbelievable.

Best freebie - a four day trip to Venice during Carnevale. A dozen years later, I still haven't figured out what we did to deserve that.

Infinislothdonds to the work avoidance!

ToffeeBoy said...

UPDATE - first two boards laid! And it's only ten past one!!!!

goneforeign said...

Not really nostalgia but your Kellog's Cornflakes plastic figurine rang a bell.
Listening to early hours radio has been a lifelong thing with me, I recall a program in LA in the 60's-early 70's where two guys did an in-studio demo at KPFK of a thing they'd come up with; it involved a plastic whistle that came with a box of Captain Krunch, a Kellog competitor. The thing about this whistle was that it was in exactly the same key as the tones that you heard when you dialed a long distance call, so if you were to insert a coin to get a connection you could then 'blow' the tones for the number you wanted into the phone and the phone company would have no record of that call being placed. It was so successful that they devised a small frequency oscillator for that frequency and encased it in a small blue box, now all you had to do was get a connection and then hold the blue box up to the phone a 'ring' your numbers with a pushbutton. The phone system was so simple, if you dialed a 3 it generated 3 tones, a 6, 6 tones etc.
The night I heard them they placed an amazing call: armed with a book of international corporate numbers, from LA they called the NY phone company, they then re-routed the call to Moscow, thence to Tokyo, thence to New Delhi, thence to Rome, to Paris and finally to a phone booth on the platform at Waterloo station in London, we heard it ringing and then a cockney voice came on and said 'Hello'. Our two hosts had a pleasant chat with him about the weather etc and then the piece de resistance, when they hung up you could hear all the circuits worldwide disconnecting, it took about 15 seconds! And that was what they did it for, to see who could devise the most complex call and then listen to the disconnect tones. Waterloo station was always the final destination.
There were other ramifications, it was a totally underground thing and they realised that blind people all over the US used the phone system to stay in touch, so they started making and giving away blue boxes to the blind so they could make free calls. Then the Mafia heard about it and were very interested, they controlled the gambling industry, if they could have day long open phone calls from everywhere in the US to Las Vegas they'd make millions, so they started buying 'em.
I think the two young guys were called Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

Japanther said...

I absolutely LOVE this song, so many memories....the summer this came out was my first real summer of (relative) freedom.
Me and my mates spent every day at the beach, jumping off the cliffs into the sea and daring each other to go higher. I had to babysit my little brother the whole summer, so I dragged him along every day, urging him to silence about our illicit cigarettes and introducing him to girls we were trying to impress. We hid the cigarettes in a wall on the way home every day to hide them from parents.

Easily the craziest cliff jumper was one of our mates called Viney, he was a bit younger than us but always the first to try anything. He got killed in Iraq defending a non-cause a couple of years ago and hearing this again has sparked off some good memories....

Abahachi said...

I don't really do nostalgia - the combination of the 1980s and Surrey means that I'd much rather repress my adolescent years, and I wasn't terribly happy before that either. The nearest I get is rereading books and listening to music; I can't usually remember when or where I read or heard something for the first time, but I can often recall how it felt at the time.

Lots of things that summon up particular moments and events - the game of croquet, for example - but since I don't have any wish to relive them if I can help it, I don't think that counts as nostalgia in the proper sense.

Mnemonic said...

It's things that catch you unawares that get to you most. Mine was walking into a local Croydon corner shop and seeing a shelf full of catering size Nido powdered milk tins. Took me straight back to North Africa like nothing else could, not couscous, nor music nor spices. Nido Powdered milk did it.

Blimpy said...

Sometimes, and only sometimes, the smell of toast takes me back to being on holiday as a child.

I think it's Will Smith week on The Spill!

I also used to love the free toy that fell out of the cereal, LOVE IT!

I still have some of the 7" flexi singles that got given away on Frosties (i think), you had to cut them out of the box, so they were cardboard on one side and needed to be weighed down in the middle to get them to spin right.

Look! The De La Soul one I have is going for 49p on ebay!!

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/KELLOGGS-FROSTIES-MEGA-HITS-OF-1990-SINGLE-RECORD_W0QQitemZ120408800060QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ20090420?IMSfp=TL090420121004r15735

steenbeck said...

On vacation last week Malcolm got his hands on a box of lucky charms, which we never get. He ate the whole box in two days. No present, though. It reminded me of when I was little, we used to drive out to detroit every summer to see my grandmother, and she always had the cereal with the prizes. At the time I thought she bought it for our visit, but I realize now that she always had about a year's worth of prizes saved up for us (which we loved) so she must have eaten it year-round.

I can't even talk about nostalgia. The passing of time is making me crazy at the moment. And very blue.

I used to love getting free stuff. I was a bit of a grifter in my 20s. Free food, drinks, anything I could find. I'm sort of ashamed of it now, though.

tincanman said...

For me pictures of the kids gets me more than anything. I take hundreds and hundreds of pictures a year so there isn't much that wasn't documented, and something searching for something on the PC I'll run into one searching for something that has a similar keyword and ... 'xcuse me, damn allergies acting up.

free gift? Love? friendship? All that sort of mushy stuff? Nah, the above was close enough to showing a human side.
Actually, what first came to mind was open source software and the internet. We can do anything we want for free.

snadfrod said...

I used to treasure one of those cereal flexi singles too. Sadly I think mine may have been by Elaine Page and/or Barbara Dickson. They're GRRRRREAT!!

I also got through the whole of university using a shoulder bag handed out free in freshers' week. Its not that I'm cheap, I just appreciate good craftsmanship...

Come to think of it i also still have a bottle opener on my keyring which I picked up in freshers' week. Plus, I can remember neither sponsor in any way at all.

Nostalgia wise I get one of those weird gut-punches every time I smell that weird kind of creosote/petrol/shed smell, which always meant I was helping my dad or my grandad in the garden at the weekend. Favourite smell by a mile.

*I just checked the bottle opener - it was Bacardi Breezer. So that must be why I never minded the watermelon one...*

snadfrod said...

Oh and ToffeeBoy, 2 things:

- how is the floor coming along?
- and (belatedly) sorry about Jo. Not that he's done you that bad, mind, but still. Sorry.

CaroleBristol said...

There are so many things that can trigger off nostalgic trips down memory lane for me, but it is music that does it the most often.

Far too many memories I think, my past is measured out in pop songs.

Smells and tastes can do it too. I was walking along last weekend and a woman walked past me and I got a lovely waft of her perfume. It was Je Reviens and instantly I was away back in 1975 when I was a student at uni.

One of my friends wore it all the time (she was well off, I was a lot lower budget myself and I used to wear patchouli).

We often used to walk down to Russell Square and sit in the sunshine. Then we would head off towards the LSE because she was going out with a boy who was there and we'd head off along the Strand to go drinking.

TracyK said...

Music has to be the key for me, certain songs just transport me. Spotify has enabled me to recreate some of those lost mix-tapes that I used to treasure and I find I'm even remebering what comes next after each one. Two of the tracklists have made me really wonder about one young man of my acquaintance: maybe one of you could explain why a guy would put Let's Spend The Night Together, Elvis Costello's I Want You, Carly Simon's Nobody Does It Better and Robert Plant's If I Were A Carpenter (just the most obvious songs, though you may have detected a theme) and then not be able to say what he bloody well wanted from me? No wonder I got so confused about him!

Clothes are another, and as Carole said, perfume. I've often changed my perfeumes because I tend to develop headaches from them after a while, so for me Chanel number 5 is 1993-94, Amarige the following year, etc etc.

Whenever I feel low or ill, I dig out my diaries from 1989 to 1996 and have a good old wallow.

CaroleBristol said...

Ah Tracy, I love No 5 and Amarige, two of my all time faves. Ysatis is nice too, as is Poison.

My absolute fave though is YSL Paris.

steenbeck said...

Now I feel compelled to talk about my pet project. I'm making a line of natural fragrances, and the packaging design is based on old records (I actually scanned one in! Oh--it's the one I used for a spill logo a million years ago). All because of the connection between scent, music and memory. (and I love the textures/fonts/colors) I've always loved fragrance, but not been crazy about traditional perfumes. I'm quite excited about it, but it's going in fits and starts.

TracyK said...

Ysatis took over from Amarige Carole! Living through the 80s Poison seemed to be everywhere, as did my 89-90 fragrance, Obsession! I must admit, I prefer a more natural scent now, I like Jo Malone's Orange Blossom and Pomegranate Noir a lot. I quite fancied getting that massive tome that came out on Fragrance recently, but realised it just made me want to smell the perfumes as I read about them, which just isn't practical.

steenbeck said...

and....I had some prototypes of my solid perfume at a gallery opening/holiday party this christmastime, and a woman across the room happened to work for Jo Mallone in NYC and she said I could make Millions! And I said I want to make millions! True story. Ahem, It has not happened yet.

I'm being obnoxious now, sorry. I should have a little book of "Steenbeck's 'I could have been a contender' stories" to share with the class.

ToffeeBoy said...

Progress Report - Floor now fully down - edging still to do. Never again - they can have carpet and like it!

I'm loving all the nostalgia trips. I think Mnemonic got it spot on with the reference to things catching you unaware - that was certainly it with the Cornflakes and the sudden lurch back to 1968 this morning.

Smells definitely do it for me as well but I often find myself unable to grasp exactly what it is that the smell's reminding me of.

@ Snadfrod - yeah he missed a couple of sitters last night but I'd still rather have him than not - just not for £19 million!

@ Steenbeck - you could call your range of perfumes after regular 'Spillers. Sourpus No.5 anyone?

@ Blimpy - I still have a flexi-disc of XTC's Ten Feet Tall. For several years it was my only recording of it so I always expect to hear it all crackly and distorted. Perhaps we should do a separate flexi-disc post ...

@ CaroleBristol - patchouli - aaaagghh - now I'm back in 1975 and the first girl I ever kissed ...

tincanman said...

@ Toffeeboy
Is this where you saw this thread going?

ejaydee said...

Eau de Gremlin?

steenbeck said...

Haha! I nearly made a sweary comment! On the pristine spill!

It always has a name. It's Philtre. Which is a love potion. Because the record I scanned in was love potion number 9.

steenbeck said...

ALREADY not always.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ ejd - brilliant! Not sure that I'll buy it though (no offence intended, if you're reading this Gremlin).

@ tincanman - nothing left to chance - all carefully planned ...

sourpus said...

Hey, ive actually found myself feeling a bit of nostalgia for nostalgia reading this thread! Patchouli oil, flexi-discs, cereal box toys were all part of my world no less than anyone's here. And yes, it is in moments when you're not prepared that 'that feeling' creeps up on you.

Chocolate can do it aswell. I was home in the UK recently and I picked up a 'Yorkie' bar in the newsagent for no better reason than just 'Oh, i'd forgotten about these'. I can still remember the first day I saw one in the shops and my mum saying that they 'tasted like chocolate used to taste when I was a girl'. I tried a chunk and found myself oblivious to the conversation going on around me, while my head was momentarily transported back to 1975 or whatever it was.

ejaydee said...

RR,
RR,
RR,
RR,
RR,
Reveal yourself!

steenbeck said...

Hee hee. Is it working? I'm scared to look.

ejaydee said...

Bah, it must have been beginner's luck last week...

DarceysDad said...

Staring at those flippin' coffee beans is making me want a mug; I really shouldn't at this time of night, particularly when I'm on an 0500 alarm again for work!

ejaydee said...

I've got a feeling it won't come up until the morning. The Film & Music section hasn't been uploaded at all.

steenbeck said...

RR, if you don't show up tonight, all I have to say is...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsbYx6hevoQ

steenbeck said...

But in the past we've ALWAYS either been able to see last week's playlist or see the new topic. Right?

ejaydee said...

I bet it'll be a good one where all my favourite songs ever will have been nominated in the morning, exactly 8 minutes before I had a chance to post...

ejaydee said...

Actually that's true Steenbeck, the 'Spill and is rife with pre-booked noms, as is my email inbox.

steenbeck said...

I'm ridiculously disappointed! I mostly missed last week, and I'm 5 hours behind and sniff * sniff * sob!

ejaydee said...

Peace out 'Spillers! I'm gone like a prawn

Shoey said...

"Eau De Shoe" anyone? Perhaps not then, won't assault your ears and nostrils.

tincanman said...

Perhaps what we should do is if you can't get on, start a new spill post and if anyone gets on and notices s/he is mostly alone, go to the spill and put the link in comments.