Friday, April 18, 2008

The decade's almost over

Here’s something surprising to think about. It’s not much more than 18 months before we’ll be farewelling this decade. This 10-year block that some call the noughties (not much of a label, but what else is there to call it?) is fast disappearing down history’s plughole.
All too soon it will join the nineties, the eighties, the seventies and all those other 20th century time zones in the library of what used to be.
When you’re old enough for your memory to span a few decades, the past tends to blur. Now, when was that singer a star? What era does that movie come from? And how did we get to here?
Even going back to the dearly departed nineties is an exercise in realising that even if we think not much has changed since 2000, it certainly has. I’ve recently been ploughing through early Next magazines in the course of doing some research. I was Next’s launch editor in 1991. And, oh wow, talk about nostalgia. If you were a grown-up in the early nineties, you too may remember life when:
* magazines still had knitting patterns because everyone knew how to knit
* maternity clothes were big and baggy; showing off your baby bump just wasn’t done
* Johnny Depp was just that strange young dude in Edward Scissorhands.
* we were ripping out leg hair with the fiendishly painful Epilady
* no-one had yet had a Brazilian
* Suzy Aitken was pushing her fitness videos
* Olivio and Olivani began to give butter a fright
* we were suddenly delighted to eat sushi
* Anne Geddes was just beginning her rush to fame by photographing babies in clay pots
* Sitcoms still reigned and we’d not even heard of reality TV
* every woman worried about toxic shock syndrome
* we were endlessly debating how possible it was to “have it all”
* beauty companies first told us that “cellulite” existed, and that it had to be banished
* we lusted after clothes by Barbara Lee, Annie Bonza, Marilyn Sainty and Thornton Hall
* everyone’s kitchens were painted yellow and blue
* home renovation involved heaps of rag-rolling, stencilling, sponging, dragging and stippling
* the Filofax was everyone’s must-have business tool
* cell phone price tags sank to around $200, down from $2000 in the eighties
* Call Waiting first became available for home phone lines and drove us mad as we struggled with the new phone etiquette rules
* 50% of people had a home computer but 20% couldn’t programme their VCR
* The first personal trainers started working in gyms
* Women actually wanted to make their own pot pourri
* Lionel’s Muffins (recipes from Shortland Street) was a mega-best seller
* waterbeds were finally ejected from the nation’s bedrooms
* we were fixated on millennial predictions based on the sayings of Nostradamus
And right at the end of the decade some group of bureaucrats called the Y2K Commission warned us to stock up with three days of food, a stash of fresh water and batteries for our torches. After all, there was a chance that the world, as we knew it, might stutter to an end as every computer died. Pictured above is a fridge magnet I still possess, sent by the government to every New Zealander, telling us what to do.
Looking back, it all seems so naive. But somehow we got through the nineties, just as we'll survive this decade too. Even if things do look decidedly dodgy on a whole lot of fronts right now!

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