Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 1

Sunday 1st January 1984

Woke up at a quarter to nine and got up at quarter past after sleeping on the setee all night (well since 2 o’clock anyway). At 9.30 I played Terrahawks and Munchkin on the Videopac, then at 10.30 I watched the Smurfs film, the Magic Flute. 12.00 watched the Survival special about the Falkland Islands 12.10 Got sick of it and played with a tennis ball outside, trying to hit old Poggles.

12.40 I’ve just come in, and the weather’s not bad. Everything’s dried up from all the rain and there’s no wind, but it’s a bit chilly. I’m now sat at the table waiting for dinner. 12.50 watched Magic with the stars. 1.10. Had dinner. 1.30 Waited for pudding 1.45 Had pudding 2.00 Went out and at 2.20 I came back in again.

2.45 Took the dogs down devil’s bridge 3.30 Came back and played on Videopac 4.40 Watched Aladdin and the 40 thieves 5.45 Came home 6.00 Arrived at home and watched holiday till 6.40, Then read City Of thieves till 7.15 when I watched the two ronnies. 8.15 watched Tell The Truth 8.40 Went to bed

Alright, so it’s not the most riveting start to my 1984 diary, but the style loosens up quickly, I promise. I think I just wanted to make things nice and prim and proper on the first day! I’d spent New Year’s Eve at my Gran’s now-legendary bungalow in Acklam, in Middlesbrough… sleeping on the ‘setee’ despite the fact that there was a perfectly good bed available in the spare room. I’d just been enthralled by the sheer rock’n’roll excitement of curling up on the sofa overnight.  Trevor and Rose, my Uncle and Aunt, had returned from the Endeavour pub and brought with them their friend Ian Taylor, who wandered through the front door swigging from a pint of lager that he’d smuggled out with him. It was the most decadent and impossibly wild behaviour I’d ever seen, and it clearly put me in the mood for mischief.

The ‘Videopac’ was the splendidly chunky Philips Videopac G7000 games console that I’d got for Christmas, after a sales assistant in the sprawling Middlesbrough department store Uptons had convinced my Mum that ‘nobody’s buying Ataris any more, they’re about to go bust. This is the system of the future…’

The ‘system of the future’ looked like this…g7000

‘Munchkin’ was essentially a Pacman knock-off, with all the major elements in place except for the expensive licensing deal. ‘Terrahawks’ clearly DID have an expensive licensing deal, but that’s all I can actually remember about it. I can’t recall any details about the game at all. Can anyone help, or was it just me and my friend Gaz Jones that were hoodwinked by the shysters of Uptons into owning a Philips Videopac G7000?

Good to see that after making a valiant attempt to watch something educational on TV, I got bored after ten minutes and went round the back of the bungalow to mess around with a tennis ball. ‘Poggles’ was our shaggy rough collie dog, real name Ricky but given his odd nickname by my Dad after developing a tendency to stare intensely at family members with wild, boggly dogs eyes while simultaneously panting manically and whimpering. We never found out what he wanted.  ‘Bugger off dog, and stop poggling at me,’ he would shout. My Dad that is, not the dog.

Nice weather report in the middle (I clearly had designs on being the new Jack Scott) and a gripping countdown to pudding delivery. Devil’s Bridge was a little, stone hump-backed affair that crossed a beck (and usually a discarded Hinton’s shopping trolley) five minutes walk from my Gran’s bungalow. I remember being taken there on my sixth birthday and being told to make a wish as we crossed the stream. So I closed my eyes and wished that I was Chewbacca from Star Wars, then spent the rest of the day checking to see if any bits of my body were getting any hairier. I made a rod for my own back, thirty years later I’m covered in the stuff. Including my back. And if I’d realised just how hirsute it was possible for a man’s ears and nasal cavaties to get, I’d have probably plumped to be a Tusken Raider instead.

And ‘City Of Thieves’!!! Bestill my beating heart. A thrilling fantasy adventure in which YOU are the hero, complete with combat system and score sheet…


I got this, The Forest Of Doom and The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain for Christmas, and it was the beginning of a very slow descent towards the murky world of Dungeons & Dragons. But for now I was happy to sit by myself surrounded by scraps of paper with ‘Stamina 21, 19, 17, 15’ written on them, attempting single-handedly to liberate the prosperous town of Silverton from the bloodthirsty tyrant Zanbar Bone. Or ‘Zanbar Bleb’ as my splendidly barmy schoolmate Phil Slack used to call him.

And bed at 8.40pm! Aaaah, bless. Mind you, I’d barely slept a wink on that bloody setee.



  Jason wrote @

I too owned a G7000 console – it always felt inferior to the Atari (which many of my friends owned). I always wanted to play classic Atari Pac-Man, Space Invaders etc. but they never quite got the games right on the G7000 somehow…

I’ll admit its very funny to hear it described as the ‘system of the future’…I don’t think it was ever that even when I was a very young 14 years of age!

  bobfischer wrote @

Neither do I, but the Uptons staff were ruthless retail machines… 😉

But yay! Videopac solidarity, brother! That’s great to hear, cheers. I definitely wanted an Atari console, because as you say it was the one that pretty much everybody else had. But my Mum convinced me that Atari were about to go belly-up, and the G7000 was the way forward…

I’ve still got ‘Quest For The Rings’ somewhere at the bottom of the spare room wardrobe.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I’m sure I still have ‘The Forest of Doom’ book somewhere. I also have a board game called ‘Warlock of Firetop mountain.’ I never really realised how geeky I was growing up haha.
I’m wondering why I haven’t been getting your blog updates on here for ages?!

  Fiona Tims wrote @

OK-I think it was your MySpace blog I signed to and you haven’t written anything which is why no updates ;p
I’m looking fwd to reading your diary extracts.

  bobfischer wrote @

Hi Fiona! Yeah, sorry… Myspace kept crashing every time I tried to put a new blog entry up, so I gave up in the end and shifted operations over to here! 🙂

The Forest Of Doom was fantastic. I got that for Christmas in 1983 as well. At one point in 1984 I was going to write a novel based on my adventures playing The Forest Of Doom – ie whatever happened to me in the game, I’d write down as though as it was an original literary masterpiece! Of course, that sort of relied a bit on me not getting killed by a Fire Demon within ten minutes of starting…

The writer Ian Livingstone is giving a talk in Middlesbrough in a few weeks time – I’ve got to try and get along and meet him!

  manhead wrote @

Fancy having to wait a full 15minutes for your pudding, you poor mite. Horrendous.

Hey….do you remember the day the old wooden hut at the cross roads garage (the gazzer?) burnt down??

  bobfischer wrote @

Oh yes!!! Really clearly, me and my mates stood and watched it! I’m sure that happened later in 1984, as I remember writing about it in the same diary – so watch this space!

(NB we didn’t bother running for help or anything, we just stood and watched it and laughed. I blame Mrs Thatcher)

  Adaml wrote @

Warlock of Firetop Mountain, aaahhh memories. I still have that somewhere. It was the first and last of those books I did moving swifly on to D&D for the next 6 months or so. So much of my youth wasted rolling a dice…

My firend at school had a similar issue to your with the videoopac. He asked for a Spectrum and got a Texus Instruments computer because his mum was convinced by a salesman that a Spectrum wasn’t a ‘proper’ computer!

  bobfischer wrote @

Hi Adam!

One of my lifelong ambitions is still to play all the Fighting Fantasy books in order, from the start, properly – rolling the dice and making maps and not cheating by going back to the previous entry when I die. I like to aim high in life… 😉

And as far as I’m concerned the Spectrum is the ONLY proper computer… everything since has just been a pale imitation…

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