Saturday, March 17, 2012

one more thing from The Elfish Gene

"British rock stars of the seventies were still awestruck when they travelled to the States to find the seats reclined on planes and that ice was served with water. Most people didn't have central heating--the average temperature in a British front room in 1970 was 15 degrees centrigrade or 59 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the sort of level at which most people today would require a jacket if they were going out. We had a telly that came with a slot meter that meant you paid for your viewing by putting a coin into its back. Watching an Agatha Christie was always made more exciting by the knowledge that the money might run out before Poirot put his hand on the killer's shoulder."

This is my favorite passage from Mark Barrowcliffe's The Elfish Gene. (Page 59 in the hardback, if anyone cares.)


  1. We had a reply ...

    Should that be telly?

  2. My aunt had one of those coin in the slot tellys. I think they shold bring them back - if sitting there monging in front of the box meant you had to get some cash out of your pocket every hour or so you'd soon start thinking seriously about value for money.

  3. I still believe fifteen degrees centigrade should be enough for everyone.

  4. I think I like The Elfish Gene for what it says about living in 1970s Britain, as much as the D&D bits.

  5. "Most people didn't have central heating"

    '70s? Heck, I never had central heating until I moved to London in 2000! Neither my married-students' house in Sheffield (1996-1998) nor my rented house in Coventry (1998-2000) had central heating! In the former case there was also an open void beneath the house to the street and the winter wind blew through the floorboards up into the rooms; there was a gas fire in the living room we kept on and we managed a £300 gas bill in 6 months, which in those days was a lot of money. In the latter case it was just as well there was no central heating, just electric heaters, since the hot water tank was broken for about 6 months - didn't matter much as the dribble of warm water from the shower was electrically heated too, we didn't take baths AIR so warm water from the tap wasn't really needed.

  6. "I think I like The Elfish Gene for what it says about living in 1970s Britain, as much as the D&D bits."

    I'd say Mark's life in '70s Coventry was a lot like my experience of '80s Belfast, with less terrorism. I even had the two RPGer friends with an over-developed interest in the Third Reich. One of them nearly made Assistant Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, but sadly was purged and AFAIK is now a mere press officer.