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Arbury 1970s Archive - Part 4: The Kingsway Tardis and a Tomorrow Person in Carlton Way...

The Kingsway Flats on South Arbury in 1972.

Back in the 1970s, we had no modern gizmos. No mobile phones, no ipods, ipads, or wot-nots. We were telly zombies a lot of the time, and fashion was followed and pop stars fawned over and so on, but, with few of us even having landline phones - and the first handheld, the DynaTAC 8000x, not making its debut (as an expensive 'yuppie toy') until 1985, we were technologically very light in comparison to today.

The calculator had arrived - but that was a fat lot of good as you couldn't use one at school. And the digital watch arrived around midway through the decade. Loads of these sprouted on wrists everywhere from the mid-70s to the late-80s. Many of the early ones had 'fallen off the back of a lorry' and soon displayed a blank face.

The video recorder came home to roost in the 1980s. Around 5% of UK households had one in 1980, and it slowly took off after that as it became more affordable.

If you missed a telly programme, you missed it. And we only had three TV channels - Anglia and BBC's One and Two.

We had Ker-Plunk and Spirograph and Snakes and Ladders and so on, but went out to play a lot when we weren't glued to the telly watching Josie And The Pussycats or whatever.

However, we didn't live in a prehistoric carefree wonderland.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley had happened, and our parents warned us to be careful of 'strange men' or 'strange ladies' and scary public information films rammed home the message.

Still, we played outside and made the best of our surroundings.

'Josie And The Pussycats' - required viewing for a lot of us Arbury kids in the early-to-mid 1970s.

There was the Arbury Adventure Playground in Nun's Way - which was wonderful - but when that was closed, we went to St Alban's Rec, Arbury Town Park, the Arbury Court Rec or the Hump or the Hills or the Seats or the Block (see 'Arbury 1970s Archive 1: The Hump, The Hills, The Seats And The Block').

Talking of Nun's Way, we used to wonder which nun it was named after when we were kids.

The 'Arbury Goat' arrived at the Adventure Playground. I was a bit old to go there then, but the goat was featured in the 'Cambridge Evening News' and we all heard about it.

Back to the main subject, and many of our games were based on what we consumed from the telly when we played outside.

There was a boy who used to cycle around South Arbury on his Chopper bike on Sundays back then. He was as bored as we were, and told us he was one of the Tomorrow People. Of course, he was telepathic, and he would often end our conversations with something like: 'Somebody's in trouble in Alex Wood Road. I must go!' 

And he'd whizz off up Carlton Way.

Sometimes his destination would be further afield - like North Arbury: 'Somebody's in trouble in Campkin Road!' - and away he'd go, pedalling like a maniac, to the rescue.

We didn't believe he was a 'homo-superior', of course, but it was fun anyway.

'The Tomorrow People' were homo-superior - the next stage of human evolution - and had 'special powers'. The rest of us were homo-sapiens. The Tomorrow People called us 'Saps'. Bunch of charmers, weren't they?

We used to visit a nice couple, Mr and Mrs Norman, who lived in the Kingsway Flats. They had a blue budgerigar and gave us orange squash. Lovely people.

The Kingsway lifts were fun as they made the perfect Tardis for games of Dr Who.

We'd dash in - 'Quickly, the Quibble- Quobbles are approaching!' - press the button, and up we'd go, emerging on the next floor, having apparently materialised somewhere completely different.

Well, it wasn't that different - same red brick, draughty walkway, etc, but it was different enough - and was, of course, an entirely different planet.

I had one irritating friend who used to say, when I was playing the Doctor and he was playing the companion: 'Doctor, the physical appearance of this place is amazingly similar to the last planet we were on. It seems to be composed of the same materials.'

I got wise to that and would say, haughtily: 'Of course, we must still be in the Mingazoid solar system.' 

Or something like that.

If we spotted the caretaker, we'd screech: 'CYBERMAN!' and scarper. 

He was a nice bloke and just used to smile.

Sometimes I'd go over to see my 'best mate' in Walker Court on North Arbury. It was really weird - not in a sci-fi sense, but still striking - because his house had two toilets, and our house in Cunningham Close only had one. He had a toilet downstairs and one in the bathroom.

Imagine having TWO loos!

And he had the Arbury Town Park and the brand new Arbury Community Centre right on his doorstep. We kids used to go and chat with the workmen as it was being built and watch the structure forming, fascinated.

And, of course, he lived much closer to the Arbury Adventure Playground.

I was quickly learning that life wasn't fair.

The Kingsway Tardis, the Hump, the Hills and the Block really didn't compare...


The intro and outro music and visual sequences from 'The Tomorrow People' - etched on my brain forever. Those were the days!


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