Inside this week | Back to the ’80s

Margaret Thatcher (a new performance dance piece charmingly dedicated to her) and American football (our preview of the best places in town to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl) were pretty big in the 1980s where I come from.

I refer to, of course, England, a country that entered the decade with new hope after the doldrums of the 1970s, fell in love with money – both yuppies and labourers alike – and the Fridge (remember him?), and then left it with a rather nasty taste in the mouth.

I thought I’d seen the back of them – by 1993 we’d pretty much got them out of our system – so why oh why do they keep on coming back. Embarrassing fashion (Going Underground’s guide to gatecrashing parties at Copenhagen Fashion Week): see any episode of Dallas – yup, it’s returning. ‘Beat me up now’ haircuts: the New Romantics probably had the worst – just give it time. Crap tinny background music as one lone voice, Morrissey, wailed in the wilderness: can anyone tell me a ‘80s band that hasn’t reformed, with the possible exception of St Winifred’s School Choir?  

The problem is that people in their late 20s and early 30s nostalgically look at the decade through rose-tinted glasses, but one glance at its films tells you everything you need to know. Al Pacino made just five, James Caan seven, and everything Harvey Keitel made went straight to video. Instead we got Chevy Chase and Police Academy, and a best film Oscar nomination for Working Girl.

Take a look at any top ten list from that decade and I guarantee most of the films will be from 1980-83. That’s because decades don’t just end, they linger around for years as the new one try to define themselves. Those fluorescent shirts in the early days of the Premier League – really they were a relic from the ‘80s.

But was it all Maggie’s fault? In many ways the old girl gets a rum deal. There’s not many who’ve been so widely vilified while they’re still alive. She might have left her country materialistic and in the grip of Murdoch, but it was still probably better than the winter of discontent.  Albeit it with a prevalence of tasteless vulgarity.