Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 4

Wednesday 4th January 1984

9.40 Woke up and got up at 10.20. Went for Gareth at 11.00 and got home at 11.05. Then we played on the videopac and about five minutes later Doug came and we all played Quest for the rings for a while before we went down the bottom of the garden to mess about by the bonfire. After that we started to play cricket but had to go in to have dinner.

After dinner we went upstairs to show Gareth the robot tape. When we had done that we went outside to play cricket and had a bat each. When we had finished, we all went back to Doug’s house and showed Gareth the robot then we made a ramp outside and went over it with Doug’s bike.

We went back to my house at 3.00 and we all had some cider and we played on the Videopac until Gareth’s mam came for him at 4.00. Doug stayed till 4.45 and then at 4.50 We had tea. At 5.10 I watched Think of a number, at 6.30 I played my mam on the videopac and at 7.05 I watched So you think you’re switched on. 8.05 played on Videopac 8.30 Watched Up the Elephant and round the castle. 9.15 Played on Videopac 9.35 Went to bed.

11-year-olds! Messing about with bonfires and drinking cider!!! In more enlightened times, we’d have had ASBOs slapped on us before teatime.

We never had much money when I was a kid, but we did have a bloody big garden and my Dad regularly attempted to detract attention from this by setting fire to large tracts of it.  I distinctly remember on this occasion Doug, Gareth and I playing ‘Doctor Who’ in – basically – a 200-yard-thick cloud of smog with bits of burnt leaves and twigs flying around in it. While simulteneously laughing at passing cars on the adjacent main road slowing down to a nervous crawl to negotiate their way through the blinding fug. Climatologists are probably still trying to figure out where the dense wedge of greenhouse gases lodged high in the stratosphere above Kirklevington came from.

Here’s a picture of my Dad stoking up one of his more modest garden clearances…

dadsbonfire

We used to love making ramps for our bikes. Usually it would be a loose pile of six or seven bricks (purloined from whichever deathtrap building site we’d been idly wandering over recently) with a plank balanced on top of them, so we’d pelt hell for leather up the wobbly wood while whistling the theme to Junior Kick Start and then fly off the end and land in a heap of legs, Parka and twisted bike wheels underneath the kitchen window. I’d like to say that in 1984 I had a cool, state-of-the-art BMX on which to attempt these daring stunts, but what I actually had was one of these…

strika

Yes, a Raleigh Strika! And not only that, a Raleigh Strika with the seat and handlebars extended out to ludicrous lengths because I’d been bought the bloody thing for my eighth birthday three years (and about six inches in height) earlier.

Now, the cider… my mother’s attitude to cider was an interesting one, namely ‘they’re OK to drink it, because there’s nothing in it’. As a result, I was happily allowed to freely drink glasses of Woodpecker Cider throughout most of my childhood, and nobody seemed to notice that afterwards I would go to bed giggling and belching and rambling on about time travel. Maybe because I did all those things when I was sober as well. My Mum’s liberal attitude to apple-based booze lasted for another six years until Summer 1990, when I drank two bottles of Merrydown Cider at a sixth form party and subsequently threw up in my bedroom bin.

Anybody any idea what ‘So You Think You’re Switched On?’ might be? Sounds like some sort of BBC1 popular science programme, but I can’t find anything online about it. Must have been a one-off I think. Help!!!

And ‘Think Of A Number’! Fantastic. Johnny Ball is still one of my all-time heroes. Here’s the opening titles… I hadn’t heard this theme music for over 20 years, and yet I still whistled along as soon as it started…

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10 Comments»

  illegibleme wrote @

The only other reference to, “So You Think You’re Switched On?” I can find on the entire internet is one sentence from the Mausoleum Club forum where one guy mentions, “the odd special with Cliff Michelmore called ‘So You Think You’re Switched On’.”

Yes I have better things to do than look for this kind of thing but they all involve actual work!

  bobfischer wrote @

Well done! Just had a look and found that, and it’s on a thread about TV quizzes centered around other TV shows. Telly Addicts, We Love TV, that kind of thing.

So was ‘So You Think You’re Switched On?’ a quiz show about TV presented by Cliff Michelmore? That would make sense, given the title.

I need to go to bed now, but I don’t think I’ll sleep with all this uncertainly still raging.

  Raf Uzar wrote @

Aw.. Raleigh Strika. You flash git! My brother had a Raleigh Chopper and I had a Raleigh Burner – the Raleigh kings, they called us! 🙂

  Raf Uzar wrote @

Also, have you noticed how the “Think of a Number” theme tune shares distinct similarities with The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup”. Check it out:

  Columbina wrote @

“Up the Elephant and Round the Castle” – does that mean you had an early crush on Marina Sirtis (later to play Deanna Troi in Star Trek – the Next Generation)…?

  bobfischer wrote @

Noooo! Really? Deanna Troi was in Up The Elephant? I had no idea. Presumably she was one of Jim Davidson’s (ahem) ‘birds’ in it?

The only co-star I can remember is John ‘Jim Branning from Eastenders’ Bardon, who played Jim’s dad. I suspect there’s about a 10-year age gap between them.

  bobfischer wrote @

I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler for future instalements, but later in 1984 I abandoned my Strika and bought my mate Doug’s Chopper to replace it. A slightly retrogressive move with hindsight, but at least the Chopper didn’t need the bars and saddle pulling out like a clown’s bike to accomodate my new-found height!

I was ready to poo-poo your Foundations suggestion, but blimey… you’re right! It’s around the middle section isn’t it, when that Suspended A9 chord descends into the counterpointing B# harmony and moves up a gear into 5/8 time? Can you tell I’m making this up as I go along?

  Raf Uzar wrote @

A9 chord indeed! It is the Foundations though, isn’t it?!

  Gareth Johnstone wrote @

No idea about the Cliff Michelmore thing… but “Up the Elephant and round the Castle”! Wow!

  bobfischer wrote @

It’s true, Mr U – you can just about sing ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ to the theme from ‘Think Of A Number’. It’s that kind of important scientific research that I set up this project to further.

I think I watched pretty much every TV sitcom on air throughout most of the 1980s. I used to really enjoy Up The Elephant And The Round The Castle, despite my Dad’s damning criticism that ‘it’s really not very good’.


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