Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 11

Wednesday 11th January 1984

7.50 Woke up 8.15 got up 8.30 Went for the school bus and got to school at 8.45 and it was raining. 9.10 Went into the hall for assembly and when we came out we had to go in to our Topic groups. After that I did Topic and then I finished the research that I had started yesterday. I had dinner at 12.00 and at 1.00 We had to got to maths groups.

When we came out from there I did maths and then when I had finished we (Me, Gareth and Doug) went in the library to read. After that, me and Doug asked if we could show ROB-E in assembly on Friday. Mrs Keasey asked us if we would go down to Mr Chalkley and ask him, so we did and he said yes, so we all went into the library and wrote some script.

Came home at 3.15 and went straight down to Doug’s. Dad came and picked me up at 5.30. 5.35 Had tea. 6.00 Played on videopac 7.00 Watched name that tune 8.30 Watched up the Elephant and round the castle 9.00 Watched Minder 10.00 Went to bed

You’ll notice lots of mentions in these diary entries of ‘going to the library’ to read/write/research particle physics in the hope of a nuclear fusion breakthrough. What we actually did in reality, of course, was ‘go to the library to arse around and avoid doing any actual work’.

Unlike the fictional schools that I saw in Grange Hill and the Bash Street Kids, Levendale Primary was – in the best laid-back 1970s fashion – completely open plan. There were no sectioned off classrooms and individual desks, just random collections of tables, chairs and scatter cushions dotted around a selection of expansive floorspace.

A couple of times a day we might be called into little groups for a pep talk (see the ‘Topic groups’ – dunno what the topic would have been, could be anything from the space race to the ancient Egyptians, both of which seemed to come round more regularly than ringworm) but other than that we were free to wander around at will, sit with who we liked, and ‘work’ on whatever we wanted.

The library was a loose collection of grey, plastic bookshelves and a few pastel-shaded fuzzy-felt seats that seperated our ‘Upper Band’ end of the school (adults only, please – no under-8s allowed) from the ‘Middle Band’, where impossibly immature 6-8 year-olds did whatever they did with poster paints and wax crayons. 

It made a brilliant hiding place from Mr Hirst or Mr Millward, who were always more likely to be wandering around the business end of the school looking for any excuse to batter Glenn Tinkler over the head with a rolled-up Guardian Educational Supplement. 

It was also home – terrifyingly – to the ‘Junior Guide To The Human Body’, which contained – even more terrifyingly – a double page spread on (cough, splutter) ‘reproduction’.

reproduction So safe to say that while me, Doug and Gareth were ‘reading’ in the library, what we were actually doing was laughing maniacally up our British Home Stores sleeves at cartoon pictures that appeared to show a cross section of Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees inserting a cucumber-sized appendage into a thoughtful-looking Susan George.

Our formal Sex Education lessons at Levendale Primary were still a few months away, and I can’t wait to get to them, especially if I can find Youtube footage of the special film we were shown in a strictly-cordoned-off assembly hall. But for the moment, this would do. Well… this, and the vintage 1970s ‘nuddy calendary’ hanging behind a filthy overall at the back of Doug’s Dad’s garage where we worked on ROB-E every night, but I’m saving that up for a rainy day (even though, apparently, this WAS a rainy day…) 


But yay! Brilliant! Breakthrough on the ROB-E front, and we now had a mere two days to prepare our lovingly-constructed robot for his debut public appearance.

Still, no need to panic, especially if Name That Tune was on, still presented at this stage by genial Scouse stand-up Tom O’Connor, no doubt aided and abetted by ‘the lovely Maggie Moone and the Alan Braden Orchestra’. I fancied Maggie Moone, in a slightly worrying 11-year-old way. She had an exotic name (I’m from Middlesbrough, remember) and there was no-one quite like her for belting out ‘Cry Me A River’ in gold-flecked stockings and a cocktail dress.

And Minder! The number of times that Doug and I would emulate the title sequence by grimly shaking hands over the bonnet of a white Ford Capri. It’s a mark of what I’ve achieved in my life that I can still tell you without checking that the registration number of Terry McCann’s car was SLE 71R.

Oh, I know how to live alright…



  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

Like all the best days, 11th January 1984 leaves us with something to regret: namely, that the worlds of ‘Minder’ and sex education did not collide that year. It could have happened, too: the Minder cast took part in an educational anti-drugs film around then. If only somebody had managed to get Terry (or possibly Dave from The Winchester) to demonstrate foreplay, then the ladies of the late 1980s might have had more to enjoy, hmm?

The film that never was could have brought a whole new layer of nuance to “I Could be So Good For You”, not to mention shedding an unexpected light on Arthur Daley and ‘er indoors. I can see Patrick Malahide really letting Chisholm fly too, but this is a private matter.


  bobfischer wrote @

With respect, I think you underestimate the power of ‘Minder’ in the field of sex education. Thanks to careful observation of Terry McCann’s behaviour throughout my early adolescence, I am now effortlssly able to watch a topless strip show in a smoke-filled East End pub while maintaining a look of detached, cool disinterest on my face.

Oh yeah, SLE 71R. Still don’t need to check. 🙂

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