Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Archive for December, 2008

1984 and all that…

Right then, before I head out to the Pot and Glass and celebrate the dawning of 2009 with a few lime cordials and a pickled egg, here’s my grand scheme for the next year’s worth of blogging…

For Christmas 1983, exactly 25 years ago, my parents bought me a lovely WH Smith’s Desk Diary, and for a full year I filled it in religiously… every single day I wrote a full page about what I’d done at school or in the streets, who I’d ‘mucked about’ (my favourite phrase) with, what I’d watched on the telly and what I thought about Doctor Who.

I’ve still got the diary, and it’s probably my most treasured possession – it certainly came in handy during the writing of ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’ and even gains a couple of respectful mentions in the book. I was 11 throughout most of 1984, and just reading it back now instantly takes me back to an innocent age of school trips, ZX Spectrums and Frankie Goes To Hollywood (who, in retrospect, probably weren’t all that innocent, but I didn’t know that at the time…)

So I thought I’d try, every day in 2009, to type up my diary entry from exactly 25 years earlier and have a little bit of a misty-eyed but cheery prod at a time long gone, illustrated by photos wherever I can. I’ll happily poke a bit of fun at my 11-year-old self (who would have been mortified, but that’s 11-year-olds for you) and I’ll try to expand on loads of the details, as (gasp) my Mum occasionally read my diary in 1984, so I kept it fairly clean.  The gloves are off now though, because a) I’m 36 years old and she’s not the boss of me, yeah? and b) she’s offline for a few months. Phew.  

It’d be lovely to have a few of you along for the ride, and maybe chip in a few of your own memories of the time? Or your own diary entries if you’ve got them? Whatever, I’m really looking forward to doing this, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

And just to prove the diary actually exists and I’m not just inventing this for sake of a few (very) cheap laughs…

There it is, open at Sunday 1st January 1984, ready for tomorrow’s entry. And, in tantalising style, I can reveal it contains the words ‘Terrahawks’, ‘Videopac’ and ‘Aladdin’.

So I’ll see you back here for retro fun tomorrow sometime, in the meantime – Happy New Year!

The Wolves Are Running…

Well, I’ve drunk half a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream, eaten a box of Tesco mince pies by myself and lit the fourth candle on my Blue Peter Advent Crown, so that can only mean one thing – I’m a drunken, bloated pig with scant regard for Health and Safety considerations. Oh, and it’s Christmas Eve!

What with paying off the Yarm carol singers in US cash and pressing my face up against the windows of Toys R Us, I probably won’t get chance to write again before Christmas, so just a quick note to say how much I wish all visitors to these ramblings a ‘cool yule’ (as my friend Andrew Suddes would say – he’s still aggrieved that his mention in ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’ was lost in the edit, but hopefully this helps to make amends), and I hope Santa brings you everything you’re after, and you don’t end up disappointed like I was by the lack of Millennium Falcon action back in 1980.

I’m only joking if you’re reading this, Mum. I’m over it. No, really.

I’ve also watched the opening episode of ‘The Box Of Delights’ tonight, first broadcast on BBC1 in the run-up to Christmas 1984, and still utterly magical. It makes me feel like every brilliant, sugary Christmas of my childhood has been rolled up into a big sticky ball and thrown into my lap, and that’s a nice way to feel at 2.30am on Christmas Eve after half a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Time, tide and buttered eggs wait for no man.

I have great plans for this blog in the New Year, and I can’t wait to get cracking on it… but in the meantime, I think I can already hear our old friends from the Chalk Farm Salvation Army Band coming up the road now, so I’ll wish you all…

… a very merry Christmas indeed.

Best wishes,

Once upon a time, not so long ago…

…a sleepy little boy laid down on a tatty brown hearthrug in front of a flickering log fire and took a sip from a mug of lukewarm milk. A battered old TV in its cream casing slowly hummed into life, and showed the little boy a little shop, with a dainty front window and a little girl wandering in through the door. And inside, also dozing on a tatty brown hearthrug, was a saggy old cloth cat. Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams, but Emily loved him.

I’ve just come in from working late to find out that Oliver Postgate passed away peacefully today.  In the distant, sepia-tinted mid-Seventies, when all my tiny memories were a little beige around the edges, Oliver Postgate made my favourite programme in the whole wide world.

I don’t often feel things like this especially personally, but that’s really given my old heart a big battering.

I was ill a few weeks ago, and spent a long Thursday afternoon lying on a big cushion with a blanket over me. Sorcha put the Bagpuss DVD on, and I lay there for the full three hours, drifting in and out of sleep as this gorgeous, gentle, sepia-tinted magic unfolded in front of me. A tired, 35-year-old man feeling like a sleepy four-year-old once again.

And when Oliver goes to sleep…

RIP, you lovely, gentle wise old man.