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A tasty time machine; POSH NOSH MANZIL'S, Birmingham.

IT'S said that if you can remember the 1960s, you weren't there. That's because the movers and shakers at the epicentre of the decade were too drenched in druggery and skulduggery to notice what went on around them.

The same can be said about the 1980s. If you recall that decade, you weren't there, either.

Not because everyone was on drugs. There was a major recession, so the only drug that even the most debauched pill popper could afford was half an aspirin, for a splitting headache.

And rock stars had to make do with orange Tic-Tacs on their backstage rider. No, the reason nobody cool in the 80s remembers it is because all the movers and shakers were moving and shaking under their beds - fingers plugging up ears, eyes shut tight.

Anyone with any sense was in hiding, desperate to dodge the direst decade of them all. And no wonder.

I was a kid in the 80s, without enough sense to hide under my bed.

Consequently I saw what was going down. It wasn't pretty.

This was a time of Thatcher, Scargill, big hair, high unemployment, luminous socks and Michael Foot's dufflecoat.

And did I mention the movies? Only one good flick was made in the 80s.

It was the home movie I made of Mrs Terry, who lived next door, sunbathing in her skimpy green bikini.

(I filmed her through a gap in the fence linking her garden to my parent's land. Even in my early teens I had the elevated morals of a journalist.) Unfortunately my flick didn't get national distribution, so the rest of the country had to make do with Flashdance, Fame and Footloose.

Footloose has now been turned into a touring stage musical.

It reached the Birmingham Hippodrome last week, and I went along to catch the action, though with some trepidation. After all, this was going to take me back to the bad old days.

Surely even a few catchy songs couldn't make it seem bearable? To prepare myself, I first stopped off at a nearby Indian restaurant, Manzil's.

Manzil's also reminds me of the 80s, although in a good way.

One of the few nice things about the decade was the food. The UK hadn't yet suffered the plague of the superchefs, with their super-whisks and super-spatulas, telling us all about the brave new world of fancy, flashy food.

Okay, it was the era of that most pretentious of culinary tortures - nouvelle cuisine.

But that only took off in London, and the capital was merrily enjoying a very different sort of 80s.

One the rest of us never experienced, constructed entirely out of pinstripes, red braces and gelled hair.

Back on Planet Earth, we ordinary mortals could at least enjoy the 80s version of a restaurant, with decent, old-fashioned nosh, And that's what you get in Manzil's.

It's not dowdy, though. Down home and comfy is how I'd describe it. Just the way I remember a 1980s curry house.

The meals on offer aren't swanky, either. Though what I ordered hit the spot, like a skilled archer firing arrows at a stuffed Dalmation.

I started with Tandoori Lamb Chops, (pounds 3.60). Plenty of meat on the bone, they were a chunky chomp, all right. Like nibbling the dimpled knees of Vanessa Feltz. Then it was time for a Chicken Balti (pounds 6). Once again, nothing swish, but still delish'. It was topped off with mushroom rice and a peshwari nan that was so sugary and delightful it could have been my dear, sweet, cardigan-knitting Nan, not just a peshwari one.

Then it was off to endure Footloose. Lots of bright, bushy-eyed performers singing, dancing and jazz-handing like good little troupers should.

And me? I sat on my seat, snoozing and burping my way into oblivion. A classic case of curry hangover, and the perfect result, of course.

Because sleeping off my curry allowed me to skip the 80s, second time round.

LORNE JACKSON The bill, including drinks, came to pounds 25. Manzil's Indian Restaurant, 111-112 Digbeth, Birmingham. (Tel: 0121 643 9589.)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2011
Words:680
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