10 Things This Year's Freshers Won't Remember

September is fast approaching and soon a whole new crop of fresh (READ: greasy) faced students, who we mockingly call Freshers because they're so fresh they don't seem to mind being mockingly called Freshers, will arrive in their new towns ready to learn and also oversleep and miss learning.

The majority of them will be 18 years old, meaning they were born sometime between September 1994 and September 1995. As such, there are many things that these bright eyed young people possibly won't be aware of that you or take for granted as cultural cornerstones. For example, if you were born in the early half of 1995 you will have completely missed Apartheid. Nelson Mandela has been free the entire time you've been alive and the plot of Lethal Weapon 2 makes no sense to you at all. 

Here are 10 Things, not including Apartheid, that this year's freshers will be too young to remember...

1) MiniDiscs - For a brief period between 2001 and maybe 2004, we became dissatisfied with CDs. The CD Walkman was the latest thing, but it skipped like fuck if you moved even slightly, rendering the entire device useless. Most chose to tough it out, while some of us opted for a more stable answer to travelling music. That answer came in the form of the MiniDisc. It was like a cross between a cassette and a CD. It was a cassette with a small CD inside it, really, and it promised music that wouldn't skip when you jogged for the bus and also offered great sound quality. You could record music onto it, although that did involve the time consuming process of pressing play on a CD, record on the MiniDisc player and then sitting around waiting for the song to end. 

I had a player, and I thought it was ace, but there were never many albums released on MiniDisc (although my local Virgin Megastore had a small section for them) and it was never really adopted as a format. 

Ultimately some clever bastard invented the MP3 player and it flushed the poor old MiniDisc right out of the water.

2) Pogs - These came out in 1993 and were more popular than cheesecake and blowjobs. They were just cardboard coins, which you stacked up and then hit the top of with a thicker plastic coin. Whichever Pogs landed face down, were yours. You swapped them, sometimes even played for keeps, but mostly you'd buy a pack of 6 for 99p with your pocket money.

We played at break time every single day and I made it my personal quest to collect every single Surfing Robot Animal Pog there was. The Crocodile surfing, the Rhino surfing... I had to have them all! There was also the much lauded Pog Maker, a device with which you could carve out your own Pogs using whatever issue of Gamesmaster Magazine you happened to have to hand. Check out the American advert to see how it worked 

I made a series of Mortal Kombat Pogs, and also some secret Pogs with tits on that I hid from everyone but my more liberal mates.

3) Kid's Sitcoms - Every half term, after The Big Breakfast had finished but before the news, we were treated to a solid few hours of the best American teen sitcoms available. Everyone knows about Saved By The Bell, but few attending Fresher's Week in September will be able to recall the likes of California Dreams (pictured above) about a groovy high school rock band in sexy California, or Hang Time; a show about a basketball team who managed to win more often than not despite only having one black guy. They were shiny, they were tanned, they were in their mid-20's and we loved them!

But it wasn't all sexy adventures in the sun drenched Americas. Britain had its own kid's shows, and they were the bleak and dangerous opposite to the optimism of the USA. We had Byker Grove and Grange Hill, where children routinely had abusive parents and could be blinded at a moments notice! Being a teenager was awkward, and our shows seemed to understand that a lot more. Not like bloody Skins. Shower of twats that they all were. 

4) Curtains - Look at old Jonathan Taylor Thomas there. See how happy he is? That's because he's sporting the Curtains hair style which was so very popular with boys during the mid 90's. I had it, and so did almost everyone else I knew. One friend of mine only got rid of his curtains about 4 years ago. 

Such was the allure of the curtain. The most hardcore would have it "under-cut", which is to say have the sides and back of their heads shaved to the bone while allowing the floppy mop of hair to cascade either side.

Even Sir David Beckham himself couldn't withstand the enormous drawing power of Curtains. There's a strand of hair right over his eye, but he's not bothered. He's smiling as if to say "I know it's there, and I could sweep it away if I so chose... but I haven't and I won't."

The Curtains lasted for quite some time, only eventually replaced by the mighty Quiff; a young gents hairstyle that you can still see out and about to this day on the man who's about to smack you for no reason.

5) When The Simpsons Was Good - You think it's good now? You think it's been good your whole life? Well you're wrong buddy! If you were born after 1997 then you have lived in a world in which The Simpsons, the all important and ubiquitous animated family, has always been rubbish. The last entirely good season was number 8 way back in '96, and then in season 9 they made Principal Skinner not really be the real Principal Skinner and it was all massively and rockily down hill from there. 

The problem is that The Simpsons used to be an animated sitcom about a lower-class family. There was comedy, there was drama and angst, there was real heart. One very early episode sees Homer attempt suicide because he's unable to provide for his family. That's fucking DEEP! Nowdays Homer would just move in with the cast of Glee or travel to Saigon and a basket of snakes. Poignant moments between characters have made way for gratuitous celebrity cameos that amount to THE SIMPSONS MEET [INSERT FLAVOUR OF MONTH HERE]. In the last new one I saw, Grampa Simpsons felt useless and old and considered suicide, so he became a bull fighter and ended the episode floating above Springfield in a lawn chair with balloons tied to it. Seriously.

6) The Original Careers of Celebrities - For example, everyone knows the ubiquitous ITV light entertainment Mum baiting duo of Ant & Dec, but back before your parents met they were called PJ & Duncan. Break-out stars of grim kids drama Byker Grove, PJ & Duncan released a series of insanely catchy 90's hip pop tunes, none more popular than "Let's Get Ready to Rumble". It's not just the Geordie twosome though. Before he was a silver haired smooth talking mid-morning telly man, Phillip Scofield found fame as a kid's TV presenter and spent an inordinate amount of time with a gopher called Gordon. He was also the star of Joseph and Technicolour Dreamcoat. That's Phillip. Not Gordon the Gopher.

Now Alesha Dixon makes her money judging people's talent, but she was originally just the one who didn't sing in R&B girl group Mis-teeq. Craig Charles is a soap actor, but he used to be a poet and Norman Cook was in The House Martins before he was Fatboy Slim. 

7) Calling People At Their Houses - I know people go on at you about "ooh we never had no mobile phones in our day!", but we didn't. If you wanted to get hold of someone you had to ring their house and interrupt their tea and talk to their Dad first. "GAZZ! PHONE!" is something my friends heard every time they rang me, followed by the muffled sound of me coming down the stairs, asking who it is, and my Dad going "I don't bloody know do I. Some gay sounding lad." 

Then, midway through the conversation, I would hear their dad say "Get off that bloody phone!" before hastily being hung up on. If you actually managed to make plans with someone before that happened, you had no way of knowing if they were actually going to turn up. 

You walk to the park, get there on time, but your mate doesn't arrive. What now? You can't ring him and see where he is. That would involve going back home. So you just had to wait. And wait. Sometimes people didn't come at all, and you'd allow your grace period (20 minutes for me) before you sacked them off and went in. Only when you saw them next would you find out where they'd got to.

"I'll meet you on the bus." were the six most anxiety-baiting words it was possible to string together, because there was a strong chance the bus would arrive and your pal would have missed it or his Mum wouldn't give him bus fare or she's decided he wasn't allowed to go at the last minute as Mums can often do. Too late for you though, because you've paid and you're going in to town by yourself now whether you like it not, and you can't even complain to anyone about it, because you're not at home.

8) N64 - Right through the 80's and 90's, Nintendo and Sega had a Console War that makes the current Sony/Microsoft scuffle look like a couple of babies accidentally bumping into each other in a cot. We'd refuse to associate with anyone who made the opposite choice in gaming to us. I was Nintendo, and so were all of my friends. The NES, Super Nes and finally to the N64! What a magnificent machine. It had 64 bits! That was twice as many bits as we'd ever seen in our lives! We didn't rightly know what bits were, but we did know we getting life-like 3D gameplay as we'd stepped in TRON itself. 

I mean look this...

You want her don't you? Course you do! Look at them sexy polygons, and the way her face wraps around her angular rhombus head. Oh yeah, we're in a virtual reality now! They might have looked like a bad Dire Straits video, games were pretty frigging great. Not just Goldeneye64 (all the games had to identify their console somehow. Super Mario Kart was on the Super Nintendo and so on) which was easily the best and most well remembered game, but also Turok and Mario Kart 64 and Perfect Dark! It was a transitional period between the Hard games of the 90's and Long games of now, so most titles were quite long and quite hard. (*snigger*)

9) The Millennium Bug (AKA Y2K) - Rather than being some form of Time Travelling Swine Flu epidemic, The Millennium Bug was all about computers and dates. You see back when they invented computers there was precious little memory available, so to save space the spods in charge shaved 2 digits off the year to make 99 instead of 1999. That's all perfectly fine until you get to the year 2000, or as your computer sees it the year 00, at which point it has a massive panic attack because it can only assume it's 1900 and that it hasn't been built yet. 

Everyone, including the governments of the world, was genuinely terrified that the moment the clock struck 12 we'd all have our chorus of Auld Lang Syne cut short as planes fells from the sky and our monitors exploded shards of molten glass into the faces of kids and pensioners everywhere. There was a real and tangible panic in the air running up to New Years, and a significant amount of money was spent both publicly and privately to upgrade computer software to allow for the year 2000 in Outlook Express. 

Then, when the moment came, the world held its breath and huddle in tight to avoid the imminent catastrophe that would surely befall us. Except it didn't. At all. Nothing happened. The computers went from 99 to 00 and it didn't make a blind bit of difference. That what passed for a 'scare' back then, which brings me on to my final point.

10) Safety - The following is a statement of cast iron fact; There Was No Such Thing As A Paedophile in the 90s 

Kids getting kidnapped off their gardens and raped and murdered by odd-faced men in football shirts? Never happened. Not once. You could go out on your bike all day long, with no way of possibly contacted home, and if you were an hour late for your tea you got a bollocking off your Mum rather than an organised police search party in the face.

I used to go round on Sundays with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge and knock stranger's doors to see if they wanted their car washed by an 11 year old. Some people did, and they gave me money or some cakes or a Nobbly Bobbly. In the dark times of 2013 the first person to open their door would pour the soapy water over me and stick in the sponge in my mouth to muffle the screams. 

Sure, we were all told not to talk to strangers, but that's mostly because our parents didn't want us bothering strangers. Eventually someone did invent the paedo, possibly in a basement at the BBC, and they took advantage of children's spectacular freedom to tragic and reprehensible effect. The upshot of which is that my little sister wasn't allowed out of our back garden until she was 13, and even then she could only go on the front garden. 

You can't chuck a brick without hitting a nonce these days, which I think is how the Daily Mail would like the world work anyway, but not so long ago everything was safe and friendly and perfectly fine. 

Words by Gazz Wood

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