Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 10

Tuesday 10th January 1984

7.50 Woke up 8.15 Got up. At 8.30 I went out for the bus and got to shcool about 8.45 and met Doug at the gate. Went into school at 9.00 and did Maths till 9.15 when we had to go in for hymn practice. When we came out at about 10.15 I finished the story that I had started yesterday. When I had done that, I did Maths for the rest of the morning and at 12.00 We had an indoor dinnertime.

At 12.55 Everybody had to read until 1.30 and after that I wrote my news about ROB-E and also did my 5 new year resolutions. After that I had to do research into a job that I would like to do, and as I couldn’t think, I just put down a deep-sea diver. I got a book from the library, drew a picture and started the writing, but I only got it half finished.

3.15 came home 3.40 Went to Doug’s and we sprayed ROB-E but Doug took a lump out of his thumb with a hammer. Came home at 4.50. 5.00 Had tea. 5.10 Watched Grange hill 6.40 Watched Tucker’s luck 9.00 Watched a kick up the eighties 9.30 Went to bed.

A deep sea diver! Ha ha ha ha ha! I still get nervous walking through big puddles. Heaven only knows where I pulled that little nugget from, although I have vague memories of drawing a picture of a VERY old-fashioned Jules Verne-style deep sea diver to illustrate my future vocation. This kind of thing…


I’m intrigued by ‘the story I started yesterday’ which, oddly, I didn’t mention in my diary entry the day before. But I think it was actually a shaggy dog tale about me (my stories always starred me, I was the shyest 11-year-old egomaniac in Yarm) being hidden under the floorboards of an abandoned hut on the North Yorkshire Moors while a team of gruff Teesside bank robbers used it to plan their heist.

Mrs Mulhern thought it had ‘great potential’, and I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, so I just nodded and smiled and drew a picture of the getaway driver for her. I just about managed to make him look sufficiently unlike Mr Hirst to avoid getting into trouble for it.

And hymn practice! For an hour! Brilliant. Fifty of us crammed into the school hall amid a wafting cloud of farts and giggles as the brilliant Mrs Mulhern tried to jolly us along from the piano stool. My favourites…

1. ‘When A Knight Won His Spurs’. Mainly because it had a lyric concerning dragons and ogres, and I was into all that stuff from my Fighting Fantasy exploits.

2. ‘I’ve Seen The Light’… I presume that’s the title anyway. The verses went on about golden sunshines and birds of springtime, and then you got ‘They were all put there for us to share by someone so divine, and if you’re a friend of Jesus (clap clap clap clap clap clap clap) you’re a friend of mine’. I liked the clappy bits.

3. A song that I think was called ‘When I Needed A Neighbour’, however it’s infinitely more notable for the immortal lyric ‘I was cold, I was naked, were you there? Were you there?’ and WITHOUT FAIL on singing this line at least a dozen 11-year-old boys would collapse into hysterical laughter against the folded-up apparatus on the far wall. Because… pffft… ‘I was naked’! NAKED! Pfffft! Fart! Snotter titter guffaw!

4. ‘Water Of Life’. Because it contains the line ‘There’s a busy workman, digging in the desert, digging with a spade that flashes in the sun’. One week, as we began to sing this line, Philip Slack nudged me in the ribs to gain my attention, and then – on the word ‘flashes’ – mimed the act of a traditional comedy flasher swiftly opening and closing his long, dirty mac. I went bright purple with convulsive laughter and was eventually sent out of the hall to ‘think about what I’ve done’.

Ironically, I was only able to stop laughing when I’d stopped thinking about it.

Can anyone remember any more school hymns? PLEEEEEASE post them up and we’ll have a lovely sing-song at 9.15 next Tuesday morning.

I can still remember the scream of agony that Doug gave on the evening when he ‘took a lump out of his thumb’ while attempting to hammer a few last-minute nails into ROB-E. He ran into the kitchen trailing blood, and his Mum sealed up the wound with a veritable reservoir of TCP. Which, judging by the screams, hurt more than the actual hammer blow had ever done.


It was a bleaky cold, dark night that night – even at 4.50pm – and I remembered having a little funny turn myself because before the hammer incident I looked out of the little window in Doug’s garage and saw – amazingly – a fully-fledged white ghost swooping terrifyingly out of the blackness across the garden. A proper, flappy, Scooby Doo-esque white sheet of a flying spectre. I endured five seconds of heart-pounding, throat-freezing, brain-numbing wordless terror until Doug’s Mum wandered out of the kitchen and took her husband’s clean shirt down from the washing line.

And Tucker’s Luck! Bleak, dole-queue obsessed Grange Hill spin-off set firmly in ‘Fatcher’s Britain. I loved it. Now into its second series, when it looked liked this…  



  procrastinatrix wrote @

You are the only person I have encountered, apart from my friend Ruby, who has a memory of “When a Knight Won his Spurs”. Rube (who is a Sikh) and I love this hymn with a passion*, so much so that she tried to persuade me to have it at my wedding I didn’t, feeling it to be more sensible to have “Jerusalem”, but part of me wishes I’d been brave enough. Husband (Mister_Roy of walkinghometo50) would not have minded as he is tone deaf and scorns music as a effete pastime, fit only for the feeble-minded.

*Rube and I once spent and evening in an Indian restaurant in Wolverhampton singing through all the hymns we remembered from school – we performed “Knight” with such gusto that I think the waiters were considering throwing us out.

  bobfischer wrote @

Fantastic! I’m surprised though, as we used to sing ‘When A Knight Won His Spurs’ every week for years, so I just assumed other schools did as well. I can remember the first first off the top of my head, but after that I’m struggling…

When a knight won his spurs
In the stories of old
He was gentle and brave
He was gallant and bold
With a shield by his side
And a lance in his hand
For God and for valour
He rode through the land

And then there was a bit about ‘the Ogres of greed’ and ‘the dragons are dead’. Can’t remember much else though, and I don’t want to cheat by Googling!

You should have had it at your wedding. I’m having ‘Water Of Life’ at mine, and I’m inviting Philip Slack.

  Drew Smith wrote @

How about ‘Cross Over the Road?’. We often had ‘Streets of London’ as well, which was never really a hymn.

The acetate with the lyrics to the theme from ‘The Wombles’ was criminally underused during my time at primary school and I imagine it still is. Not that schools today use acetates and OHPs, it’s probably all streamed into the little darling’s craniums via wifi.

I smiled at the mention of indoor dinner time. I used to love those as a big box of toys would be produced from the teacher’s cupboard.

  bobfischer wrote @

Was ‘Cross Over The Road’ the one that started with ‘Would you walk by on the other side, if someone needed aid…’?

And I remember singing the Wombles theme as a terrifying solo performance on one of my very first days at school, aged about 4. Mrs Bloor, our reception teacher, realised I knew it word-for-word and made me stand on a table to show the rest of the class that – yes! – if they too knuckled down and worked hard then they could be just as sad and retentive as I was.

Indoor dinnertime was great. I used to draw spaceships on the back of perforated computer paper.

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

All I remember of Cross Over is the chorus;

Cross over the road my friend.
Ask the Lord his strength to lend.
His compassion has no end.
Cross over the road.

Conversley to you I fricken hated hyms.

  bobfischer wrote @

Tuesday tomorrow 9.15am. Join with me in a rousing chorus of ‘Kumbaya’ or you’re going to hell, sunny jim.

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