Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 6

Friday 6th January 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.00. At 10.05 I played on the videopac and at 10.30 Doug rang to see if I could come down. Mam was at work so I told Dad and went down. Met Doug half way. At Doug’s house we looked for a catch for ROB-E but couldn’t find one, so we put a collar on K-9 and put K-9’s wheels on ROB-E.

Then we went to get the lump of wood off the dump but there was a load of yobos round there so we waited till they’d gone and then we got the wood and started to cut it. Then we went inside and wrote a script for ROB-E. We were just about to record it when we had to have dinner and them mam came to say she was going to Yarm.

When she had gone we found that the tape was broken so we went down the garage to buy some batteries and sweets, and on the way back, we found a leather football in a ditch. I kept it. 4.00 Doug came back to my house 5.00 he went home. 5.05 Had tea 5.15 Watched Grange Hill 6.40 Watched Dr Who 7.05 Watched the football and made some badges 9.35 Went to bed

First mention for K-9!

Anyone who’s read ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’ (still available from good book retailers everywhere) will know all about the model K-9 that Doug and I made in Doug’s Dad’s garage and showed off in school assembly. The shocking scandal that I failed to reveal in the book was that Doug had already done the donkey work (or, indeed, the robot dog work) himself and constructed most of K-9 as a solo project when he was nine. That’s right, NINE. He made a brilliant full-scale model of K-9 when he was NINE YEARS OLD. I was still getting used to junior scissors at that age.

This picture wasn’t taken until the following month, but here’s a tantalising glimpse of our K-9 in his pomp…


All K-9 needed was a few little bits adding on and a coat of paint, and although we had intended to dismantle him for parts for ROB-E the robot, we fell in love with him when Doug brought him down from the loft. I’m a sucker for a cute pair of waggling antennae, especially when they’re made out of chicken wire and cardboard.  

I love the mention of ‘yobos’ in this entry. Bear in mind that 1984 was still the golden age of (brace yourself) the GLUE SNIFFER, and as far as I was concerned anybody over the age of 12 was almost certainly a violent, misanthropic sociopath whacked out on Bostik and ready to slash the cinema seats at afternoon screenings of Return Of The Jedi. And I was an abject coward who spent at least 64.3% of his childhood hiding behind walls, trees and – occasionally – friends who were bigger than me. Like Doug.

I got a free football out of my afternoon’s cowardice though, so RESULT!

Some terrifying 1980s anti-glue-sniffing propaganda here…

Couple of daft bits – the ‘catch’ we wanted for ROB-E was one of those little twirly things you put shed doors and rabbit hutches to keep them shut. It was to go on the hatch in his front panel where we hid my Matsui tape recorder. Not sure why we had such trouble finding one when Doug’s Dad made rabbit hutches for a living! Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the yobos.

And Yarm… I say that my mother was ‘going to Yarm’ which might sound odd seeing as Doug and I both LIVED in Yarm. Well… Yarm’s a nice little town, with a few modern housing estates dotted around a quaint cobbled High Street and all encircled by farmland. Doug and I lived on the roads leading away from the High Street, so when any of us said we were ‘going to Yarm’ we actually meant into the very centre of it, where the shops and stuff are.

I can’t help but think I didn’t need to explain that, but I’ve done it anyway and I’m not deleting it now. Here’s a nice picture of Yarm High Street…


Slightly dull night of TV, especially for a Friday. Doctor Who, naturally, would have been Warriors Of The Deep Part Two (Yes, Doctor Who was on twice weekly in 1984 – eat your heart out, EastEnders!), which means that during the day sometime I’d have been obliged to act out Part One for Doug’s benefit, probably while we were waiting for the yobos to bugger off. Sadly it wasn’t Part Three he’d missed, otherwise I’d have had to convey – through the medium of mime – the nerve-shredding terror of the Sea Devils’ pet Myrka…


Any football buffs or diligent researchers any idea which match was on TV this night? It was on for two and half hours so was clearly a full live game… and yet there was hardly ANY live football on TV in 1984. Just England matches, usually. But this would probably have been FA Cup Third Round weekend, so there wouldn’t have been an England match, and the only FA Cup game ever shown in 1984 was the final, so I’m stumped…?



  bobfischer wrote @

HUGE thanks to Justin, who contacted me to point out that on Friday 6th January 1984, Liverpool played Newcastle in a 3rd Round FA Cup tie. Must have been some strange TV experiment, as I can’t remember any 3rd Round FA Cup ties being played on a Friday night before or since! Brilliant, I can sleep easy now.

Especially as the Geordies got hammered 4-0… (evil laugh :-))

  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

Dear Mr. Fischer,
I am delighted to see a reference to authentic 1980s glue sniffing in the days before it was rebranded as the rather clinical-sounding ‘solvent abuse’. I myself was an enthusiastic glue sniffer in 1984, although it was in that summer that I made the switch to the less emetic and more hardcore Tipp-Ex thinner.
The sterotypical altar of the glue dollop is always a polythene bag (now we see the true, hidden agenda behind the modern concept of ‘bags for life’, eh reader?) but my greedily inhaling fellows and I greatly preferred to use a rubberised gardening glove. Non-porous, you see, in the finger-area wherein lay the glue but with soft cotton around the mouth and nose to prevent too much rawness and blistering.
Giles, MD

  bobfischer wrote @

Dear Dr Parcel,

How refreshing in this day and age to see such an open-minded attitude towards the simple pleasures of Toluene inhalation!

All too often we are told by our ‘friends’ amongst the Health and Safety intelligentsia that the merest whiff of Instant Impact Evostick from the bottom of a Waitrose holdall is enough to drive even the most sensitive flower towards fully-fledged sociopathy. What pish! We, of course, have fond memories of the days when a gentle waft of Bostik Ultra was seen as a de rigeur aperatif to any sophisticated dinner gathering. And 25 years on, we’re none the worse for our exploits! Unless, of course – like those politically-correct spoilsports – you count the occasional premature death, aneurysm, cardiac arrest and chronic emphysema outbreak.

You’d think in the current climate of credit crunches and so-called recession, our peers would be keen to encourage the activities of those who like to ‘remain solvent’!

Ho ho, knackers, and – indeed – arse.

Brigadier Henry Fortescue-Smythe (Mrs)
Tunbridge Wells

  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

Madam, I am unconvinced by your pseudonym!

  Ellen Beautytip wrote @

Neither am I!

  bobfischer wrote @

Rest assured that Mrs Fortescue-Smythe has had her posting rights withdrawn with immediate effect. If there’s one thing that I WILL NOT TOLERATE on this forum, it’s contributions made under false names and unconvincing pseudonyms.

As far as I’m concerned, it devalues the whole experience for honest-to-goodness contributors like Dr Parcel and Ms Beautytip.

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