From the 1970s onward, Peter Usborne’s children’s factual publishing empire was the Oxford University Press for the pre-secondary set. Their colourful info-packed tomes, liberally sprinkled with friendly, big-nosed cartoon characters, were the darlings of the school library (when The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was on loan, at least). The Usborne Book of Things to do on a Rainy Day was a self-explanatory favourite. Two friendly, big-nosed cartoon clowns guided the indoor-bound reader through a plethora of homely activities: growing washing soda crystals, making paper hats, etc. The friendly, big-nosed, overcoated spies dotted throughout the Usborne Spy’s Guidebook inhabited an exciting world where unbreakable codes could be written on a belt wrapped round an old stick, and oppressive Eastern Bloc governments thwarted with the cunning deployment of lemon juice as writing medium. More heavyweight was the Usborne Book of World Geography, a comprehensive guide to the friendly, big-nosed peoples of the Earth, full of inoffensively rendered world facts. For instance, comparative gross national product was indicated by figures in national dress holding appropriately scaled money bags: while a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates rejoiced in his ten-foot sack, a peasant representing Bhutan put a bravely cheery face on his golf ball-sized pouch. Best of all, however, was 1979’s Usborne Book of The Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond: a mind boggling grab-bag of never-going-to-happen wonders like lunar Olympics, nuclear-powered artificial super-hearts, domed underwater cities, and Jupiter being taken apart and rebuilt as a big shell around the sun, for some unfathomable reason. Its timeline of inventions from 1980 to the twenty-second century has, twenty-five years in, so far proved to be something of a disappointment to the legion of thirtysomethings still awaiting that robot butler.
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Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Another pair of these programmes for the fourth round. The last set were entertaining, with a rare chance to see something else of Hereford vs Newcastle than just the two Hereford goals – we’re not entirely sure if we’d ever seen the Newcastle goal before – and for added fun they even dig out some of the accompanying Football Focus features from the time, although we’re not sure how many other people are interested in watching Garry Richardson accompanying Kevin Ratcliffe down the A5 in 2003. Good fun, anyway.
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Points of View
- In 'Top of the Pops’ Christmas Party', HardcorePrawn says: "Looking at Peter Powell’s body language, in that picture of him with Jimmy Savile, suggests that he may have had some..."
- In 'Harold Lloyd, The World of', Droogie says: "Sounds like TV Cream are getting confused with their facts (again). Pete Smith was responsible for the Pete Smith Speciality series of his..."
- In 'Lift Off with Ayesha', noel cameron says: "I played a classical guitar piece om Lift Off in 1975. It was hosted by Lynsay de Sykes and Smokey were on the show and Stuart Mason who..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "I did wonder why the last one had some Christmas songs in it. Normally these drop like a hot brick in the charts."
- In 'Saint, The/Return of The Saint', HardcorePrawn says: "Rog owned the rights to the Saint? That probably explains why the Roger Moore-alike Ian Oglivy got the nod for the ROTS. ROTS..."