Turns out I've been living in a deathtrap. Or, more precisely, bathing in one. I got this house in 1996 and have yet to do all the renovations I want to do to it. This weekend, we're sorting out something in the bathroom so, for the first time ever, we took the side panels away from the bath to discover what lies beneath. That was when we discovered there was a power socket there, directly beneath the taps/overflow pipe etc. and in the area where water has definitely run down the wall. We plugged a drill in and discovered that the socket was live. Oddly enough, the plan to do some plumbing very rapidly turned into a plan to do some electrical wiring.
Since there is no point being retrospectively scared, I found the whole thing rather amusing. Also a relief as it turned out there wasn't any actual structural problems under there so the cost of renovating the bathroom next year will be less than I thought. I also got easily distracted by the discovery of several bits of newspaper from, I assume, the time the bath was put in. Turns out it was done in 1981, so the bath has been a potential deathtrap for 23 years.
There was a few pages from the Mirror: startling for the lack of celebs and the deference in the diary entries on the Queen and Princess Margaret. The only page that I couldn't resist photographing featured readers' designs for the proposed one pound coin. The local paper, the Exeter Weekly News, is even better. Aside from the terrifically 1981 headline of "Even bleaker for jobless", it contains exactly the same sort of stories the current local daily newspaper The Express and Echo (aka the Excess and Error) get excited by: car parking, businesses on the trade estates, cars for sale. Although there is a marvellously casual sexist bit: the city would be once again "under petticoat rule" because - gasp! - the new Mayor was a woman.
I had to read the car ads, even though I don't drive. I would love to get the 1973 Capri 1600 XL in Daytona yellow with a black vinyl roof and interior, alloy wheels and a radio*. Only £1,099. Or the 1977 MGB roadster in British racing green at £3,099**. Or the J reg Hillman Imp "blue. very clean. good runner." at £200. "Clean" appeared to be a selling point in 1981, which makes you wonder just how bad ones without it were. There's also a 1979 Ford Escort with "head restraints" - my older friend explained that these days we call them "head rests".
And then there are the tv listings, from an era when tv closed down by 1am. What a day though! TISWAS in the morning, Doctor Who and the Dukes of Hazzard at teatime, The Professionals in the evening and then Arsenic and Old Lace as the late film on BBC2. On the downside, the prime time film on Westward (ITV) was Man About the House. Yesterday the only thing I watched from my many cable channels that run 24/7 was Green Wing. If only I was ten again, I'd enjoy 1981 all the more.
*A MkI, in fact, which has the lovely vent detail in the sides. The later versions did away with it.
**amazingly, the site I found was selling one for £4950 - a rise of under two grand in over two decades.