Britain 1986 - a guide to life in Great Britain

Britain 1986 - a guide to life in Great Britain

Britain 1986 – an Official Handbook was published by the Central Office of Information.

It contains a host of information on the daily lives of the average British person, some of which is quite fascinating and some quite unremarkable. Here are the main points.

It was really a snapshot of life at the end of 1984 so some of the statistics have to be viewed accordingly.

  • There were 20.8 million vehicles on the road by the end of 1984.
  • There were 6 million dogs being walked on the pavements chasing 5 million cats.
  • £5,900 million staked by British gamblers in 1983-84 excluding fruit machines.
  • Poultry or pork was more popular than mutton or beef.
  • Wine has become more popular with gin and whisky in decline.
  • We took 49 million trips for holidays spending four or more nights away from home in 1984 – 2 million more than in 1974.
  • Walking is our favourite activity. Snooker and darts are still most popular with men; while women prefer swimming, or aerobics or yoga.
  • We spend on average more than 20 hours a week watching television (98 percent of homes have one).
  • Almost three quarters of adults see a national morning paper and a third read an evening paper.
  • Sixty-one per cent of households had a car; 66 per cent had central heating; 79 per cent owned a washing machine; 94 per cent a refrigerator and 78 per cent had use of a telephone.
  • Between 1979 and 1984 the number of self-employed people rose by 31 per cent to 2.5 million, representing 9.2 per cent of the working population – the highest proportion since 1921.
  • The service industries continue to provide a growing share of available jobs, with the largest rise in banking, finance and insurance.
  • Nine out of ten households have door-step deliveries of milk, provided by 40,000 milkmen on rounds. We consumed 188 pints a head in 1984.
  • The top one per cent of the population owned 21 per cent of marketable wealth.

News item you may have missed.

The Glass Slipper

A TV Documentary threw some unexpected light on an old fairy tale.

Cinderella’s slipper was actually a mis-spelling or mis-reading. It was not glass (verre) but fur (vair).

Not so much a see-through shoe but warm animal sensuality, the pursuit of which by a young man needs no further translation.

Best selling films of 1986

1.Top Gun
2.Crocodile Dundee
4.The Karate Kid Part II
5.Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
6.Back to School
8.The Golden Child
9.Ruthless People
10.Ferris Bueller’s Day Of

Best selling singles 1986

01 The Communards
Don’t Leave Me This Way

02 Diana Ross
Chain Reaction

03 Boris Gardiner
I Want To Wake Up With You

04 Billy Ocean
When The Going Gets Tough

05 Berlin
Take My Breath Away

06 Chris De Burgh
The Lady In Red

07 Madonna
Papa Don’t Preach

08 Doctor & The Medics
Spirit In The Sky

09 Sinitta
So Macho / Cruising

10 Falco
Rock Me Amadeus

Best selling albums 1986

1 Madonna
True Blue

2 Dire Straits
Brothers In Arms

3 Various artists
Now, That’s What I Call Music 8

4 Paul Simon

5 Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston

6 Various artists
Now, That’s What I Call Music 7

7 A-HaHunting
High And Low

8 Queen
A Kind Of Magic

9 Eurythmics

10 Five Star
Silk And Steel

Recommended Book for 1986

A Perfect Spy – John Le Carre

A biography of the spy from his childhood to his end.

The story of Magnus Pym the boy along with Magnus Pym the grown man, both entangled in a world of deceit and shadows.

More  best selling books from Amazon

These we lost in 1986


Phil Lynott, d. 4. 2. 1986 aged 36, Irish rock musician
Phil Lynott

Gordon MacRae, d. 24.2.1986 aged 64, American singer and actor
Gordon MacRae

Ray Milland, d.10. 3. 1986 aged 81, Welsh actor
Ray Milland

James Cagney, d. 30. 2 1986, aged 86, American actor
James Cagney


Jean Genet, d. 15.4.1986, aged 75, French novelist/dramatist
Jean Genet

Jim Laker, d. 23. 4. 1986, aged 64, English cricketer
Jim Laker

Wallis Simpson [Duchess of Windsor], d. 24.4.1986, aged 89
Wallis Simpson

Broderick Crawford, d. 26.4.1986, aged 74, American actor
Broderick Crawford

Pat Phoenix, d. 17.9.1986, aged 62, British actress
Pat Phoenix

Cary Grant, d. 29.11.1986, aged 82, British-born American actor
Cary Grant

Desi Arnaz, d. 2.12.1986 aged 69, Cuban-American actor
Desi Arnaz

Harold Macmillan, d. 29.12.1986, aged 92, British Prime Minister
Harold Macmillan


4  Christopher Isherwood, English novelist, 81


24  L. Ron Hubbard, American founder of the Scientology cult, 74


14  Huw Wheldon, Welsh broadcaster (BBC), 69


14  Simone de Beauvoir, French author and feminist, 78


14  Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine author, 86


18  Stanley Rous, British soccer official, 6th President of FIFA, 91


31  Henry Moore, English artist and sculptor, 88


28  John Braine, British novelist, 64

A news story you may have missed.

Green Land

Greenlanders drink an average of six gallons of alcohol a year.

A health survey reported that 40 per cent of the territory’s deaths are due to murder, suicide or accident.

Among Greenland’s population of 51,000, there are 10,000 to 12,000 cases of venereal disease every year.

You can contact John Barber here: