diamond geezer

 Wednesday, March 13, 2019

15 badges from the 1970s

1) This is my I-SPY badge. Big Chief I-Spy sent it to me from Wigwam-on-the-Water, EC4. I received it because I filled in an I-SPY book, I forget which one, it might have been At The Seaside, On A Train Journey or The Sky. The Sky was the easiest book to fill in because I could just stand in our back garden after dark, whereas we didn't go to the seaside or on a train very often. Along with my badge I was sent the special code which allowed me to decode messages in the I-SPY column in the Daily Mail, but only when I went to my grandmother's house, and usually after reading the Peanuts cartoon first.

2) This is my Barnardo Helpers' League badge. The lady up the road with the big back garden gave it to me. I received it because I had a cottage-shaped collecting box and very occasionally I put some money in it. Once a year the lady up the road held a big party for all the cottage-fillers in the village, at which our boxes were opened, emptied and re-sealed. I remember there was squash for everyone, and platefuls of dubious sandwiches, and plenty of party games to play. My contribution was so minimal that it probably didn't pay for the squash, let alone the sandwiches, or indeed the badge, but it did help instil a feeling of philanthropy at an early age.

3) This is my Watch badge. Watch was the junior environmental campaign run by an organisation whose name I don't specifically remember. I do remember they used to send a newsletter a few times a year banging on about pollution, which was big in the Seventies, and what we as children could do about it. One of their suggestions was to count the wires in your street, which always seemed a strange thing to do but the idea's stayed with me ever since. The other big campaign featured at the time was National Tree Planting Year, with its catchy slogan "Plant a tree in ’73, plant some more in ’74", because planting trees was something children could actually achieve.

4) This is my Guide Dogs For The Blind Association badge. There weren't as many charities in the 1970s as there are now so the same ones took prominence all the time. I can't remember why I received this badge, but there was a boy in my class at school whose mother was blind so it might have been because we raised some money for her. People of a certain age are particularly fond of remembering that there used to be collecting boxes in the street in the shape of guide dogs, and sometimes they got stolen before they were emptied, and I try not to be the dullard who brings up this subject in pubs.

5) This is my Transport Museums badge. I bought it at The Museum of British Transport in Clapham (not Swindon or York, which are the other locations mentioned on the badge). The London museum was based in an old bus garage so focused more on road transport than rail transport. I must have gone while I was at infant school because the museum closed in 1973 and its collection shifted to Syon Park (before shifting to Covent Garden in 1980). The other thing I bought in the shop was a platform ticket for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which had pride of place on my bedroom wall for many years.

6) This is my Royal Air Force Museum Hendon badge. I got it from the aforementioned museum, probably not very long after it opened in November 1972. I'm pretty sure I went there with the cubs, it being an extremely cub-pack-friendly museum to visit. On my visit there would have been not quite as many old planes to see as there are today, but rather more woggles, green caps and sandwiches wrapped in tin foil.

7) This is my Cadbury's Freddo badge. I must have received it as part of a promotional deal relating to this iconic frog-shaped chocolate bar, possibly when it was newly launched on the UK market in 1973. Freddos were only sold until 1979, but were quite the treat when a penny chew or threepenny lolly didn't satisfy. Obviously Freddos came back again in the mid-90s and are still around, but they're smaller now and you don't get badges any more so I count myself very lucky.

8) This is my Double Agents badge. Double Agents were a boiled sweet produced by Trebor, named because they had a hard flavour outside and a soft flavour inside. My absolute favourites were strawberries and cream Double Agents, numbered 004, closely followed by lime and chocolate (003). The sweet wrappers had coded messages on them, which could be unravelled if you found the packet with the right Spy Information printed on the inside. Trebor often ran special offers - they sent me a Fingerprint Kit in 1978 in return for four wrappers and a 10p coin- and I think that's also how I got the badge.

9) This is my Astro Smurf badge. It must be from 1978 because Smurfs were only big in the UK in 1978. Smurf figurines were given away at National petrol stations, so I probably forced my parents to drive out of their way and fill up at one purely to get a blue-faced freebie. The badge likely came from there too, or maybe I swapped it with a friend at school, my memories of smurfmania are not strong.

10) 11) These are the two badges I bought when my family went for a day out in Maritime Greenwich. The first comes from Gipsy Moth IV, the yacht sailed solo by Sir Francis Chichester around the world. She was exhibited in dry dock at Greenwich from 1968, which is how I got to walk on deck, although all those feet damaged her so much that eventually you could only look, and then she decayed so much they took her away. Don't worry, she's since been repaired and often goes for a spin on the The Solent. The other badge is for the Cutty Sark tea clipper, before it caught fire and got encased in glass, back when admission was a lot less than £13.50.

12) This is my Save It badge. Save It was an energy-saving campaign run by the government in 1976, including posters, helpful booklets and a TV commercial featuring Delia Smith. I had the posters on my bedroom wall too, reminding me to keep doors closed and turn lights off when not in use. The whole thing seems way ahead of its time today, environmentally-speaking, but in reality was more about helping the country out of recession than saving the planet.

13) This is my Buzby Junior Club badge. Buzby was a cartoon character launched in 1976 by Post Office Telecommunications to encourage Britons to use the telephone. The campaign's main target audience was adults, but children adored him so a junior fan club was established. I signed up, which is how I got the badge, plus a regular newsletter full of telephone-related content. It did not encourage me to make excess phone calls. Bernard Cribbins's bird was replaced by Maureen Lipman in the 1980s, but her fondly-remembered campaign never quite reached newsletter status.

14) This is my Dig For British Gold badge. It was earned as part of an appeal launched in primary and secondary schools in 1975 to raise money to help train British athletes for the Olympics. The British Amateur Athletics Board invited schoolchildren to compete in sponsored activities walks, swims and silences, and those raising £5, £10 and £20 respectively were awarded bronze, silver and gold certificates signed by Mary Peters. The overall target was only £50,000, which'd barely kit out a snowboarding squad today but UK athletics was a more aspirational phenomenon back then. I think my school sponsored-walked. I did not get a certificate.

15) This is my Tardis Commander badge. I got it from the Science Museum at a special BBC Special Effects exhibition which ran for six months from December 1972 to May 1973. A wide range of BBC programmes were included but the main focus was Doctor Who, then celebrating its tenth anniversary. I met two Daleks, a Cyberman and a Sea Devil, and got to walk through a police box into a mock-up Tardis console. Sadly I remember none of this, and have pieced together what I must have seen from a page on the internet, but I have the badge as proof and that's good enough for me.

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