Growing up in glasgow commodore amiga style.

I remember Glasgow as a kid back in the ’80s.

It was a hard town.

The city centre was grey and depressing. High rises dominated the skyline.

A new McDonald’s restaurant opening was a big deal.

Primary schools were legit shit holes.

For leisure people smoked, drank and went to the bookies. I guess in that respect not much has changed.

There was four TV channels.

There was no MTV. No gyms. No beer gardens. Few restaurants. No facilities.

Plenty of pubs though.

If you wanted fun you piled everyone into the car and drove 40 mins to the Magnum Centre in Irvine.

We never even had a proper shopping centre until the St. Enoch centre was built in 1987. And that was mind blowing at the time. This huge glasshouse of retail and cafes. It had an escalator and everything.

In fairness we did have a leisure centre in Bishopbriggs. It was called…….the Leisure Centre. It had courts for badminton and five-asides not to mention a pool but no slides though. They did have blow-up flumes on Friday nights but there was a rumour some kid got stabbed down there at it once. Total nonsense of course but enough to scare the bejesus out of me at the time. I did go a couple of times but bigger boys generally ruined it for everyone and the lifeguard was blowing his whistle what seemed like every three minutes as a result. At least no one got stabbed. Not when I was there at least.

Chapter 5: The management and operation of centres – Sports Leisure Legacy  Project
Yep. That’s how I remember it.

They had a roller disco on Saturday nights but I hated roller-skating. I got stretchered off a an ice rink once as a kid and that was skating in any form out of the window for me for life. Besides there was a rumour someone got stabbed at the roller disco too.

We were literally 20 years or more behind the USA in terms of quality of living back then.

People expected less and got less.

Maybe they were happier. I don’t know. I was too young to gauge it.

I know the ’80s are viewed through a prism of incredible romantic nostalgia nowadays.

We pretend there was no AIDS epidemic, no cold war, no troubles in Northern Ireland, no mass unemployment and picket lines up and down the country.

Truth is kids today would die on their arse back then. They’d be lost. Completely and utterly lost.

That’s all the stuff they don’t show you in these nostalgic TV shows.

It’s all clips of Bananarama on Top of the Pops, Going Live with Phillip Schofield, Maradona at the ’86 World Cup and Sir Clive Sinclair unveiling another one of his mad inventions that no one could afford.

Ah Sinclair. Now there was a total eccentric.

This Three-Wheeled, Battery-Powered Plastic Car-Bike Was a Giant Flop in  1985 | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine
Sir Clive Sinclair in his much maligned C5. Handy if you only ever planned to travel forward.

An ‘Ideas Man’ with not much actual technical know how he just thought stuff up and brought in university graduates to make it happen for him.

I remember the ZX Sinclair Spectrum.

It was my first PC / games console. 

I’d sit in my loft conversion fannying about with tape decks completely lost for hours.

Smoke coming out of them whilst the TV it was plugged in to made a screeching noise that sounded like condemned souls screaming from hell.

Confused and frustrated.

The screen shots of the games looked awesome on the cassette covers. But I just couldn’t get any of them to bloody work.

Why Clive? Why? 

My parents took pity and eventually bought me a Commodore Amiga the next Christmas.

A fabulous machine.

Easy to use and limitless high quality games. Great memories.

I mean how could the Spectrum be so shit by comparison? Or just in general come to think.

Going by that Micro Men film that BBC 4 put out years ago based on the life of Clive Sinclair the Spectrum’s heyday was the early ’80s.

By the latter part of the decade and the by the time I got my paws on it, it was pretty obsolete.

The tape deck was my own and worked fine with any other cassettes. I think I still have it somewhere. They built things to last back then even if they didn’t work you see.

But all I got when I connected it to the Spectrum was a lot of those funny screeching noises. And by funny I mean scary. Especially if you were a kid sitting in the dark in the middle of an attic at 1am.

Maybe it was audio from the ninth circle of hell or maybe it was early AI desperately trying to communicate that it wanted put out of its misery.

I mentioned my Spectrum experiences to a mate during a what’s app chat one night. 

“Spectrum? My brother had one. Only thing I recall was the warning for no-one to move so the tape deck didn’t jump!”

That’s what you were up against. The slightest movement and your entire gaming experience went to pot.

Anyway at least the Amiga more than made up for it. 

Trips to the Barras to buy 20 pirate games for a fiver from the dedicated Amiga shop.

The Barras - Wikipedia
Aye. The Barras were better.

Apparently it was called ‘The Amiga Palace’

Alas everyone buying the games illegally en masse is probably the reason Commodore would eventually go out of business a few years later but I was only 11 or 12 at the time so my responsibility was negligible.

My cousins had this anti-virus software for their Amiga 500 that made frenzied machine gun and stabbing noises when you used it.

I presume that was to signify that the virus was dead.

Zero point in writing virus software outside of sheer badness back then as no one was connected to a phone line yet.

Thankfully I never needed anti-virus software anyway.

I was too busy trying to figure out Monkey Island II, or immersed in other quality tiles such as Sensible Soccer, Street Fighter II, Flashback and Brutal Sports Football. Either that or trying to mastermind Kidderminster Harriers rapid rise up through the English Football League system in Premier Manager.

A cheat code got out around the playground at school and if you went to the club secretary’s office – this is in the game by the way not at school – and entered it in on her phone you got unlimited transfer funds.

Amiga Reviews: Premier Manager 2
There she is.

Straight up the to the promised land of the Premiership we went via four straight promotions and with a mere £200 million spent. That’s about £2 billion in today’s money. Very much the PSG of our era.

Eventually I left them to take the Liverpool job which didn’t work out well but then it was a poisoned chalice at the time though I definitely sensed I’d lost the dressing room long before the end and no 12-year-old wants to manage under those circumstances.

Great memories all the same.

My Amiga dominated my weekends in those formative years and had me up to all hours screaming at my parents “Just 5 more minutes!” multiple times. It kinda became my catchphrase.

As for the ZX Spectrum all I can remember is a faint burning smell, smoke and the screeches from the tape deck.

Those terrible, terrible screams.

We gave it away to charity for underprivileged kids.

Poor buggers.

I can’t imagine it made their lives much better.

Probably worse.

Not only did it not work but it was also a serious fire hazard too.

God love them.

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