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Spalding area's Trish Burgess on the Catalogue of Dreams....




It's that time of year when children across the land start making their Christmas lists with the help of the Argos catalogue. This is such a part of the festive season, it's up there with decorating the tree and eating all the chocolate from the advent calendar.

Recognising this annual tradition, Argos has named its new Christmas catalogue, The Book of Dreams. There's a TV advert showing a dad circling the photo of a drum kit. His kitchen is magically transformed into a stage so his dream comes true to the 80s soundtrack of Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds.

But Argos, quite brilliantly, has also uploaded all their previous catalogues onto a new website. If you search for Argos Book of Dreams you will find yourself transported back in time. Here you can wallow for hours, remembering all those must-have items of the past, such as foot spas and Sony Walkmans.

Retro edition of Argos. (21348818)
Retro edition of Argos. (21348818)

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I spent a very happy afternoon, when I should have been doing something far more constructive, seeing how fashions and styles have changed over the decades.

The first catalogue, 1974/5, had 200 pages and was heavily weighted towards household goods. There were only six pages of toys. You could, however, choose the latest gaudily-patterned tea set, a percolator coffee jug or a box of Viners cutlery. Ashtrays, desk cigarette lighters and hostess trolleys were all the rage. I'm sure the glass avocado and corn-on-the-cob dishes were on everyone's Christmas list, alongside a Ewbank carpet sweeper and an Olivetti adding machine.

If this catalogue was, in essence, the prop list for Abigail's Party, the 1984/5 edition was designed for would-be supermodels. You too could have a look like Cindy Crawford with dozens of hair tongs to keep those flicks and shaggy perms in check.

In the kitchen, filter coffee machines were making an impressive entrance along with sandwich toasters and electric carving knives. Deep-fat fryers were coming to the fore and certainly remained popular in1988 when my future husband bought one for me as a romantic Christmas present.

TV/video cabinets, car radios and Atari home computers were there to tantalise consumers. I also spotted portable stereo radio/cassette players which were anything but portable as I recall lugging mine about on holiday.

By 1996/7 the Argos catalogue was full of matching furniture sets. Chintz, a big feature of the 1980s, was still lingering. Camcorders were the in-thing, mobile phones from Nokia and Motorola were coming through and stackable midi-systems for CDs and cassettes were popular.

Over twenty years on from the first catalogue, the toys in 1996 took up 124 pages of the colossal 780 page tome. It's all here, from Barbie to Hot Wheels; Action Man to Polly Pocket.

Children today can just go online and create a wish list to send up the digital chimney. Me, I think I'll bookmark some of the pages from those old catalogues and see if anyone can hunt out a mustard coloured faux-leather suitcase or maybe a Goblin Teasmade. The stuff of dreams.

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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