Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 7

Saturday 7th January 1984

Woke up at 8.40 and got up at 10.30. At 10.55 Doug came and we went back to his house and made a tape. Doug’s mam went to Woolco to buy some silver spray for ROB-E. We went back to my house at about 11.45 and set off to go back to Doug’s house at about 12.15. We had dinner at my house and when we got back to Doug’s his mam and dad arrived from Woolco with the spray.

Then we sprayed ROB-E’s head and went inside to check the tape while the paint dried. We came back out again and made the arms for ROB-E, found two batteries and painted ROB-E’s face. We were just about to spray the door on the front of the robot when we realised I was ten minutes late for going home, so I ran back to my house at 3.40.

I read my comics till we had tea at 4.50 and at 5.20 I watched Jim’ll Fix it and at 5.55 I watched Little and large. 6.30 Watched Childs play 7.00 Watched 3-2-1 8.05 Watched The two ronnies 9.00 Played on videopac 9.55 Went to bed.

I remember this day really well. It was absolutely frighteningly, amazingly, tibia-crackingly freezing. Minus five all day, with bogies iced to the slopes of our upper lips.  The ‘Yobos’ over at the miniature rubbish dump will have had Presto carrier bags full of Superglu frozen to their pimply noses.

But what a day of robot-building activity we got through! I can still vividly remember the amazing smell of that silver spray, a virulent sweetly acrid chemical burn, like a thousand permanent marker pens being dissolved into a vat of petrol. And look – WOOLCO!


How topical is that? Woolco was Woolworths’ bigger, harder brother, and it’s only in the light of the recent troubles that I’ve realised there were actually relatively few Woolco stores dotted around the UK.  Our local branch was in Thornaby town centre, a permanantly sub-Arctic outpost of humanity constructed entirely from concrete and dogdirt.  It was by far the biggest shop I’d ever been in… a vast, cavernous US-style warehouse filled with banks of Star Wars toys that never seemed quite as exciting as they were when they were crammed into the poky little enclave of Romer Parrish’s toy shop in Middlesbrough.

The shop itself is still there, but it’s now a vast, cavernous Asda supermarket instead. There are probably some Star Wars toys kicking around it somewhere if you look hard enough.

Good to see my first comic mention of the New Year! I had a little bundle of weekly comics waiting at Murray’s Newsagents in Acklam for me every Saturday… although on this day it was a rare non-Gran weekend for me, so I’m guessing my Mum must have gone over and brought them back with her. Off the top of my head I got – The Beano, The Dandy, Whizzer And Chips, Buster, Nutty and Star Wars Weekly. I was probably getting a bit old for them at this point, and I don’t think I was getting them all by the end of the year, but time will tell…

I’ve still got all my old comics, they’re neatly boxed in the loft. If I get chance tomorrow I’ll have a look and see if I can find at least one of the ones I’d have read on this day. If so, I’ll scan the cover for us all to marvel at.

And what a cracking night of TV! The Golden Age of Light Entertainment continuing long into the 1980s. This was – yay! – the first EVER episode of Child’s Play, in which Michael Aspel invited two teams (each comprising a member of the public and a celeb) to guess the subjects that very young children were trying to describe in a series of hilarious video clips. Here’s a brilliant little clip, with Barbara Dickson (on a rare night off from Two Ronnies duties) and the late, great Jeremy Beadle providing the glamour… 

All, but ALL television studios in the mid-1980s were decked out from floor to ceiling in amazing pastel shades. With similarly-toned jumpers clearly being handed out to the contestants before the cameras were allowed to roll.  

I loved stuff like this, and watched it avidly and without a hint of irony while my Dad would roll his eyes. You may mock, but these formative TV experiences stood me in good stead a few weeks ago when I steered our Sunday night Darlington pub quiz team to victory by recognising the opening theme to 3-2-1. Embarrassingly, I got it before the theme actually started by recognising the Yorkshire TV ident music that preceded it.

I’ve heard of this place called ‘out’ but I’ve always thought that visiting it regularly was overrated.


  Drew Smith wrote @

My diary mentioned the Beano too. It’s a bit distressing that teacher never picked me up on the atrocious misspelling. ‘Beno’ indeed.

I’m glad you explained the Child’s Play reference. I thought you meant this:

  bobfischer wrote @

There were no killer dolls in the Child’s Play that I liked to watch. If there were, Barbara Dickson would have chased them off with a carpet sweeper.

  Niel wrote @

Why is your younger self so obsessed with the time?? Its all very accurate and a little bit Rain Man.

  bobfischer wrote @

It is strange, isn’t it? Made even more so by the fact that I never, ever wore a watch when I was a kid. Didn’t own one. And yet even when I was losing myself completely in fun and frolics during the day, I always knew what time it was and how long I’d done stuff for.

I think I’ve always had something of the obsessive cataloguer about me. Even as a kid, I found it quite hard to deal with the past just floating away from me and being forgotten, and thought that if I made copious notes and diary entries about what I was doing, somehow it wouldn’t be lost into the ether. And I suppose I was right, because here I am as a 36-year-old able to tell you exactly what I watched on TV exactly 25 years ago today!

I think I thought I was a Time Lord as well, and that at some point in my life I’d be required to submit my records to the High Council on Gallifrey. 🙂

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