‘Orwell’s dreaded year has come and gone’ reported the Observer Magazine as it looked back at the ‘shocking year’ of 1984, with the famine in Africa, the IRA’s attempt to wipe out the British government at the Brighton hotel bombing and the ‘civil unrest’ during the miners’ strike.
There was Torvill and Dean’s unparalleled winter Olympic gold and Daley Thompson’s gold in the decathlon in the Los Angeles Olympics. But one athlete who will want to forget that year is Mary Decker, whose agonised grimace is captured ‘as the 3,000m Olympic gold passed her by’ after she collided with Zola Budd.
A picture of baby Prince Harry referred to him as ‘Prince Hal’, accurately prefiguring the way the tabloids would portray him as Shakespeare’s fun-loving and irresponsible youth – and as some continue to.
When York Minster caught fire, the question was asked: ‘Was it lightning, or a sign of divine displeasure after the enthronement of the Bishop of Durham?’ referring to David Jenkins, who was misquoted comparing the resurrection to a ‘conjuring trick with bones’.
In one of the more unusual stories from 1984, there was a shot of two astronauts holding a ‘for sale’ sign after ‘delicately grappling with two rogue communications satellites’ in what we called ‘the first space-age scrap-iron deal’. Lloyd’s put them on the secondhand satellite market hoping to recover some of the £142m insurance they had to pay out when Palapa and Westar went ‘off-orbit’.
‘Ronald Reagan surfed home on the crest of economic recovery… but the rest of the world suffered the grim realities of recession and unemployment’. Returning to the Orwell theme, a shot of Reagan showed him on a giant screen already looking like his Spitting Image puppet and with Nancy raising her hands as if in praise of Big Brother – sorry, ‘paying homage to hubby, conquering hero of the Republican National Convention in Dallas’.