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The Year 1984

In January 1984 Stylus Stationers commenced
trading from an office in Catford, London SE6

Copier paper was our best-selling product right from the start but we also sold many items that are rare in the 21st century such as typewriter-ribbons, carbon-paper and replacement daisywheels for printers.

The PC was still in its infancy and ran under the intimidating MS DOS command-line based operating system. It was still unusual to find a PC outside of the IT department and the revolution that would sweep away the ubiquitous office typewriter and replace it with a PC running word-processing and spreadsheet software had not yet started in earnest.

Telex machines were still in common use for inter-office communications although the fax revolution that would bring about their demise had just started. A limited type of e-mail was possible for users of some 'mainframe' or 'mini' computers but this was generally limited to users of a single corporate network.

Regardless of your opinion of Margaret Thatcher, George Orwell's chilling vision of a totalitarian 1984 (written in 1948 - he transposed the last two digits) obviously had not come about but what was life in 1984 really like?

To help to answer this question, Stylus has gathered together the news that made the headlines in 1984 under the following categories:

World News in 1984


Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop of Johannesburg and Former Secretary of the General South African Council of Churches (S.A.C.C.) was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid in South Africa.


The long and bitter dispute known as the Miners' Strike began in March 1984.

Once again, a Conservative government believed this was a direct challenge to the rule of government rather than an industrial dispute. It was generally depicted as a confrontation between the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and the President of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers), Arthur Scargill.


What followed have been described as some of the most violent confrontations between trade unionists and police ever seen in England.

During the following twelve months, the miners drifted back to work. The strike eventually collapsed with no negotiated settlement although few people will ever forget the television images of the beaten but still proud miners, union flags flying, marching back to their pits behind their colliery bands.

From that point, Thatcher had enhanced her image as the Iron Lady and Scargill was discredited enough never again to have any real industrial clout. In 1984 at the start of the strike there were 156 operational pits but by 1992 there were just 20 remaining.


During the morning of 17 April 1984, WPC Yvonne Fletcher was gunned down in St James's Square, London.

The young policewoman was there policing an anti-Gadafii demonstration when she was shot by a gunman firing from an upstairs window of the Libyan Embassy. In 1999 Libya finally took general responsibility for the shooting and paid the family compensation.


On June 4 1984, the Indian army stormed the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, in an effort to crush a two-year-old terrorist campaign by Sikh separatists. Three hundred died and hundreds were wounded in the daylong gun battle. The Sikh separatists had been using the temple as a refuge and a fortress. The Sikhs fundamentalist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was killed. The government of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used force in its effort to keep the Indian federation together, but the action sparked a violent backlash by militant Sikhs (see below).

On 20 June 1984, in the biggest exam shake-up for over 10 years, the Education Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, announced that O Level and CSE exams were to be abolished and replaced with GCSE's.


On 19 July 1984 an earthquake took place at Lleyn in North Wales. It had a magnitude of 5.4 ML, which made it the largest onshore earthquake in the UK during the 20th century. It was felt over an area of around 240,000 square kilometres. The earthquake occurred in the lower crust at a depth of approximately 22 km and was followed by many aftershocks. Damage consisted of widespread cracks in plaster and falls of some chimneys and weak plaster and occurred as far away as Liverpool.


On 16 September 1984, the Princess of Wales gave birth to her second son, Prince Henry. Nowadays he is much better known as 'Harry'.


On October 12 1984, the IRA detonated a bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where many British Conservatives were staying during their party conference at the Brighton Centre, next door. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped injury, though members of her government were injured and five people were killed.

In 1986 Patrick Magee was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders. He was released in 1999 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

On October 31 1984, after she had moved vigorously to suppress Sikh insurgents, Sikh members of her personal security guard shot dead Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India. Mrs Gandhi, had been the dominant figure in Indian politics for over two decades. Resolutely pursuing her goal of a united India, Ghandi had ordered the attack on the Sikh's Golden Temple in Punjab (see above), a centre for Sikh separatist activities. Her assassination was Sikh retaliation for that attack.

During the 1980's, the U.S. supported "Contras" were conducting a guerrilla war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The U.S. Congress cut off official aid to the Contras, after which illegal guns sales to Iran were covertly used to fund the guerrillas. In 1984 the United States illegally mined Nicaragua's principal export harbours and, under intense pressure during that year, the Sandinista regime held elections in November 1984, in which the junta leader, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, was chosen as president. The Sandinista government was popular especially with the peasants and the urban poor. Although it received substantial Soviet aid, it was increasingly unable to maintain the economy, and it curtailed civil liberties to silence dissent.


In November 1984 Ronald Reagan and George Bush (senior) were re-elected in the United States by a landslide, carrying all but one of the 50 states.

President Reagan faced no opposition to his renomination as the Republican nomination for President.

For the Democrats, Senator Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter's Vice President, was the front-runner throughout the election campaign.

His most serious opposition was Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, who ran on a theme of new ideas. Other opponents included Senator Henry Jackson of Washington, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, the first serious Black candidate for President. Mondale was nominated on the first ballot at the Democratic convention in San Francisco. He selected Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate. Ferraro became the first women ever to be nominated by a major political party in the USA.

The election campaign revolved mostly around the issues of deficit and tariff barriers. The traditional roles of the Democratic and Republican parties were reversed, with the Democrats attacking the Republicans for budget deficits, and the Democrats also calling for more tariff protection. Reagan's popularity, management of the media, and effective advertising was too much for Mondale to overtake. "The Great Communicator" had masterfully shaped an image that was powerful in the television age. Reagan won the election with an 18-point margin.


What still remains the worlds's worst industrial accident started when a toxic gas cloud containing 40 tonnes of highly poisonous methyl isocyanate escaped from a pesticides factory in the central Indian city of Bhopal during the early hours of 3rd December 1984. According to official figures, the cloud drifted across the city killing nearly 3,000 people immediately. Many thousands of survivors were left with permanent disabilities including respiratory and other illnesses. In 1989, the American owned company Union Carbide India Ltd. was ordered to pay $470 million to the people of India as full settlement of all compensation claims. It is estimated that nearly 15,000 people have died as a direct result of the accident and perhaps as many as 50,0000 local people still live with its aftermath.

On December 19 1984 in the Great Hall of the People, Peking, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signed the joint Sino-British Declaration with her Chinese counterpart, Zhao Ziyang, that sealed the future of Hong Kong. On July 1, 1997, when Britain's 155 year lease over the colony expired, it reverted to Chinese rule. Hong Kong is now a "Special Administrative Region" with "a high degree of autonomy except in foreign and defence affairs" and with a capitalist system guaranteed until at least 2047.

Foreign aid and contributions poured into Ethiopia after pictures of famine victims were shown on television. A benefit record, Do They Know It's Christmas, by the all-star group Band-Aid, organised by the Irish pop-star Bob Geldorf, was released to raise money for famine relief.

On 29 December 1984 former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv Ghandi, succeeded his mother as Prime Minister of India after his Congress Party had won a remarkable landslide victory. Despite his massive majority, 401 out of 508 seats, Rajiv Ghandi was Prime Minister for just one term and lost the 1989 election. Later, tragedy was to strike the Gandhi family again and he was killed in a bombing at a Party election rally in Madras on May 21, 1991. Four members of the Tamil Tigers, a guerrilla group fighting for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka were convicted of his murder.

Sports Headlines in 1984


The Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (as it was then) in February 1984.

The British figure skaters Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean redefined the ice-dancing event with their sparkling gold medal performance to the music of Ravel's "Bolero." They caused a sensation by being awarded a perfect nine sixes in their final dance routine.


The 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Soviet Union and several other Communist-bloc countries but nothing could detract from the amazing achievements of one of the greatest athletes of all time. Carl Lewis won four golds in the 100m, 200m, long jump and the 4 x 100m relay. A major upset in the games centred on the South African Zola Budd. Given British citizenship to allow her to compete, she tripped the American favourite Mary Decker in the 3000m allowing the British athlete, Wendy Sly, to take the silver. Sebastian (Seb) Coe just missed a double finishing second in the 800m but he became the first man ever to retain the 1500m title. Tessa Sanderson and Daley Thompson also won gold medals for Great Britain.


In English football, 1984 was certainly a memorable year for Liverpool fans! Liverpool won their 15th League Championship and became the third club ever to win the League in three consecutive seasons after Huddersfield Town (1926) and Arsenal (1935).

Liverpool also became the first club to win a trophy (the League Cup) four seasons running. Their four wins set a new record for the League Cup.

By also beating Roma to win the European Cup (for the 4th time), Liverpool became the first English club to win three trophies in the same season.

Liverpool completed a unique run of nine consecutive trophy-winning seasons. During that period, they completed a Championship and European trophy double four times.

Liverpool's local rivals Everton reached both domestic finals, losing the League Cup to the reds but beating Watford 2-0 to win the FA Cup.


London also had something to cheer about as Tottenham Hotspur won the UEFA Cup for the second time and on 12 May 1984 Chelsea were promoted from (the old) Division 2 as champions.

Away at Grimsby in the final game of the season Kerry Dixon, Chelsea's exciting new £150,000 signing from Reading, scored the only goal of the game which was enough to clinch the title for 'The Blues' on goal difference.

Kerry Dixon had scored an amazing total of 24 goals for Chelsea in that 1983/4 season, finishing as joint-top scorer in the League with Gary Lineker of Leicester City.


In rugby union Jim Telfer, the Scotland coach, had a lot to celebrate on March 17 1984. Not only was it his 44th birthday, it was also the day that Scotland secured their first Grand Slam in 59 years with a memorable win against France at Murrayfield. They had already beaten Wales in Cardiff and then England by 18-6 in Edinburgh in the two nation's 100th international meeting. This was followed by a win over the Irish in Dublin to gain Scotland the Triple Crown leaving only France in their way to securing their Grand Slam. Scotland eventually won this last game by 21-12 in a close and exciting encounter. Well-known players in that 1984 team included Colin Deans, Jim Calder, Roger Baird, Roy Laidlaw and their consistant goal-kicker, Peter Dods, who scored 50 points that year to set a new championship record.


In Formula 1, the experienced Austrian driver, Niki Lauda took the 1984 drivers title, just a half-point ahead of his McLaren team-mate, Alain Prost. It was Prost's first season in the team, having joined McLaren from Renault earlier in the year. Prost learnt a lot from Lauda and went on to win his first world championship in 1985.


Essex won the 1984 county cricket championship.


In the 1984 Wimbledon mens' tennis final, John McEnroe beat Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. In the womens' final Martina Navratilova beat Chris Evert-Lloyd 7-6, 6-2 to win her third consecutive championship.


In rowing, the 130th Boat Race between teams from Oxford and Cambridge Universities was certainly an event to remember! On March 17 1984, less than an hour before it was due to start, the Cambridge boat collided with a large moored barge near Putney Bridge and sank. This was the first time that anything like this had ever happened in the annual race which dates back to 1829. The race went ahead the next day and Oxford crossed the finishing line first, setting a new best time of 16 minutes and 45 seconds.

Lifestyle & Fashion in 1984


No account of the mid-1980’s would be complete without a mention of the Yuppie (Young UPwardly mobile Professional or sometimes Young Urban Professional) phenomenon which had burst out upon an unsuspecting world.

In contrast with the revolutionary "change the world" 1960’s and the hedonistic, outrageous 1970’s, the 1980’s are generally characterised as the "get rich quick" decade, the era of "Junk Bonds", "Leveraged Buy-Outs", and the "Greed is Good" mantra as the world of finance really began to impinge on the public imagination. The stock market was soaring and it was every man or woman for themselves in the rush to accumulate as much wealth as possible. Social barriers had been broken down in previous decades and it was not uncommon to find East End "Barrow-Boys" working alongside public school "Hooray-Henrys" in the dealing rooms of the City of London. Attitude and ability were paramount and the potential rewards were huge.

Outside of the City, many young people seemed to have taken Norman Tebbit’s famous advice to "get on their bikes" to heart and they started their own businesses or sought better-paid employment, determined to use their own ability to earn as much as possible rather than to conform to the "job for life" mentality of their parents.

The growth in the numbers of affluent young people with money to burn had a considerable knock-on effect in the wider world. This focus on looking after yourself, both financially and physically, created a property boom, a growth in popularity of eating out (- do people still say, "Let’s do lunch!"?) and a boom in gym-membership with some people even employing personal trainers.

Early mobile phones, the size of house-bricks, started appearing during this decade and became instant status symbols and one of the more identifiable trademark characteristics of the “Yuppie”.

Naturally, not everyone was affluent in the 80’s but the Yuppie movement spawned its own "dressing for success" look that was imitated by a host of "wannabe’s".

For men, the early 80's were characterised by a rush back to suits that were often double-breasted and often worn with contracting braces in the office. In this age of uniformity, men proudly displayed their personalities by wearing loud ties. Hair was neat but often "spiky" on top.

For women, the 1980’s was the era of "Power-dressing" epitomised by the "screen bitch" in popular television series such as Dallas or Dynasty. Power-dressing was a glamorous, co-ordinated look in complete contrast to the era of mis-matched skirts and blouses that had preceded it. Almost all female jackets and tops suddenly developed wide shoulder-pads. Skirts, sometimes short, were often worn with black tights (- stockings in men’s dreams!) in the office.

Mention should also be made of Princess Diana who was a fashion and style icon for many young women at this time and of Margaret Thatcher who was as famous for her "Power Suits" as she was for her handbags whilst in office.

For both sexes Designer Labels grew in popularity because they were seen to proclaim or confirm the wealth and status of the owner.


For the same reason, manufacturers of sports and luxury cars such as BMW enjoyed a period of renaissance at the expense of more utilitarian car manufacturers such as Ford.

The Filofax

In 1984, the paper equivalent of today's PDA, the Filofax, became an essential fashion accessory for yuppies and a status symbol of the affluent youth.

The Filofax had been originally invented during World War I by a British army colonel and became popular with the military and members of the clergy. It was basically a padded personal organiser comprising address book, diary, weights and measures, conversion charts and a map of the London Underground As the paper was of a non-standard size and had an unusual number of holes punched in it, you had to buy genuine Filofax refills for your notebook (- from Stylus of course!).

Slogan T-shirts

In 1983, British designer Katherine Hamnett began making T-shirts with political slogans such as "58% DON'T WANT PERSHING" in reference to the proposed deployment of nuclear missiles. These were very popular in the mid 1980's as young people were becoming increasingly disheartened with Thatcher's Britain and the slogans perfectly expressed their dissatisfaction.

In 1984, her idea was translated for the band Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Their promotional director Paul Morley created T-shirts with slogans like 'FRANKIE SAY RELAX DON'T DO IT' - referring to lyrics from their hit single 'Relax'.

The T-shirt advertising, combined with a raunchy record sleeve and BBC ban for sexually suggestive lyrics, helped to launch the success of the song beyond their wildest dreams.

Roller Skating

Instead of sipping panda pops and eating cheese and onion crisps whilst stationary, kids were now snacking on wheels!

Roller skates had yet another revival in 1984 - it might have had something to do with the film 'Rollerboogie' being shown on television during the summer-holidays. The roller disco very quickly became incredibly popular. It gave the girls the excitement of being chased and the boys a chance to accidentally-on-purpose land on top of the girl they fancied. For some reason roller boots were always blue and yellow in 1984, and had leatherette go-faster stripes on the sides. Except, of course, the naff ones you rented at the rink, which were white and scuffed...

BMX Bikes

BMX ("Bicycle Motor Cross") mania hit Britain in 1984, with a third of all cycle sales that year being BMX’s.


1984 was the last year that the tiny halfpenny coin and £1 note were in circulation in England.

Popular Music in 1984


The American singer Madonna, often dubbed the "Queen of Pop", broke into mainstream UK pop music in January 1984 with her hit song "Holiday" which peaked at no. 6 in the UK charts later that year.


On April 1, 1984 the American soul singer and Motown legend, Marvin Gaye, was shot dead by his father, the Rev. Marvin Gay, Sr. (the singer had added an e to his name) during a domestic argument.

Marvin Gaye will be remembered for such classic tracks as "I Heard It Though The Grapevine", the stunningly complex "What's Going On?" (1971), and the wonderfully erotic dance songs "Let's Get It On" (1973) and "Sexual Healing" (1981).

All of the UK's Number 1's during 1984

14 Jan 1984

Paul McCartney: "Pipes Of Peace" (2 weeks)
3rd No 1, Paul's 1st true solo No 1 (his first was with Wings). Was his 25th No 1 as a writer, and producer George Martin's 27th No 1.

28 Jan 1984

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: "Relax" (5 weeks)
1st No 1. The song, famously banned by the BBC, remained in the UK charts for 48 weeks and sold over a million copies. Produced by Trevor Horn.

3 Mar 1984

Nena: "99 Red Balloons" (3 weeks)
Only No 1 for a German band with an English translation of their European hit. Curiously, the German version was a US No 2.

24 Mar 1984

Lionel Richie: "Hello" (6 weeks)
Only No 1. The former lead singer of the Commodores had great 80s success, especially in the albums chart.

5 May 1984

Duran Duran: "The Reflex" (4 weeks)
2nd & last No 1. Despite line-up changes and long breaks from the studio, they were still going at the end of the 1990s.

2 Jun 1984

Wham!: "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" (2 weeks)
1st No 1. George Michael and Andrew Ridgely became hugely popular with the teenage record buyers.

16 Jun 1984

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: "Two Tribes" (9 weeks)
2nd No 1. Led by Holly Johnson, the group scored a second chart topper, aided by a strong video. Another Trevor Horn production.

18 Aug 1984

George Michael: "Careless Whisper" (3 weeks)
1st No 1. Despite Wham!'s success, George issued this solo track, which remains a love song classic.

8 Sep 1984

Stevie Wonder: "I Just Called To Say I Love You"
2nd & last No 1. Stevie's international success was not reflected in chart toppers. From 1966 to 1998 he had 54 UK hits.

20 Oct 1984

Wham!: "Freedom" (3 weeks)
2nd No 1. George Michael wrote and produced all of the Wham!, and his own solo, No 1's.

8 Sep 1984

Stevie Wonder: "I Just Called To Say I Love You"
2nd & last No 1. Stevie's international success was not reflected in chart toppers. From 1966 to 1998 he had 54 UK hits.

20 Oct 1984

Wham!: "Freedom" (3 weeks)
2nd No 1. George Michael wrote and produced all of the Wham!, and his own solo, No 1's.

10 Nov 1984

Chaka Khan: "I Feel For You" (3 weeks)
Only No 1. US soul diva who was much bigger at home than in the UK. Prince wrote the song and Stevie Wonder played harmonica.

1 Dec 1984

Jim Diamond: "I Should Have Known Better"
Only No 1. Scotsman who started with the band PhD. He failed to maintain the success.

8 Dec 1984

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: "The Power Of Love"
3rd & last No 1. Their first three releases made No 1 - not bettered until 1997 (Spice Girls). Holly Johnson went solo later and had hits in 1989.

15 Dec 1984

Band Aid: "Do They Know It's Christmas" (5 weeks)
1st No 1. Charity record for famine relief in Ethiopia, featuring a host of top UK stars. It was the brainchild of Bob Geldorf, and sold 3 million copies.

Television & Entertainment in 1984

After a long fight against heart disease and at the height of success, the famous English comedien and entertainer, Eric Morecambe, colasped and died on 28 May 1984 after appearing in a Sunday concert.

Eric Morecambe 1926-1984 Eric Morecambe was widely considered to be a comic genius and was most famous as one half of the highly-popular double-act, Morecambe and Wise. John Eric Bartholomew (later to call himself Eric Morecambe after the town of which he was so proud) was born in the seaside resort of Morecambe in Lancashire on 14th May 1926.

Eric met Ernie Wise during his teens and, after National Service as a Bevin Boy conscripted to work down a coalmine, they became rising comedy stars in the late 1940's. They are best remembered for their Morecambe and Wise Television Show which became a national institution, attacting many prestigious guests from the world of show-business and entertainment.

Popular Television Programmes

  • Dallas
  • Dynasty
  • Knots Landing
  • The A-Team
  • The Bill
  • Crimewatch UK
  • The Lenny Henry Show
  • Miami Vice
  • The Price is Right

Cinema - Box Office Successes

  • Ghostbusters
  • Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
  • The Karate Kid
  • Police Academy
  • Footloose
  • Beverly Hills Cop
  • The Terminator
  • Star Trek III
  • Romancing The Stone
  • Terms of Endearment



The top selling book of 1984 was The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. This tale of fantasy concerns Jack Sawyer, a 12-year old boy and his fantastic journey - an exalting terrifying quest for the Talisman. Only the Talisman can save his dying mother and defeat the enemy who is out to destroy them. But to reach his goal, Jack must make his way not only across the breadth of the United States, but through the wondrous and menacing Territories as well.

The famous English poet Sir John Betjeman died on 19 May 1984 in Trebetherick, Cornwall.

He was born on 28 August 1906 in Highgate, north London. His poetry was full of social criticism, especially about modern architecture and new towns, like Slough. He became Poet Laureate in 1972 and was perhaps the nation's best-loved post World War II poet.

Well-known examples of his work include:

Slough (1937 - from his collected works 'Continual Dew')

"Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now.
There isn't grass to graze a cow
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now:
The earth exhales."


Executive (1974)

"I am a young executive. No cuffs than mine are cleaner;
I have a Slimline brief-case and I use the firm's Cortina.
In every roadside hostelry from here to Burgess Hill
The maîtres d'hôtel all know me well, and let me sign the bill.

You ask me what it is I do. Well, actually, you know,
I'm partly a liaison man, and partly P.R.O.
Essentially, I integrate the current export drive
And basically I'm viable from ten o'clock till five.

For vital off-the-record work - that's talking transport-wise -
I've a scarlet Aston-Martin - and does she go? She flies!
Pedestrians and dogs and cats, we mark them down for slaughter.
I also own a speedboat which has never touched the water.

She's built of fibre-glass, of course. I call her 'Mandy Jane'
After a bird I used to know - No soda, please, just plain -
And how did I acquire her? Well, to tell you about that
And to put you in the picture, I must wear my other hat.

I do some mild developing. The sort of place I need
Is a quiet country market town that's rather run to seed
A luncheon and a drink or two, a little savoir faire -
I fix the Planning Officer, the Town Clerk and the Mayor.

And if some Preservationist attempts to interfere
A 'dangerous structure' notice from the Borough Engineer
Will settle any buildings that are standing in our way -
The modern style, sir, with respect, has really come to stay."

1984 was an important year for Stylus but what memories do you have of that year? Have we made any serious errors or omissions? Contact Us.

We would like to thank all those who have already made suggestions and we would welcome any further contributions for this page.