Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 13

Friday 13th January 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. Got to school at 8.45 and me and Gareth waited outside for Doug as he was bringing ROB-E to school. Went in at 9.00 and Doug still hadn’t come. He came with the robot at 9.15 just as we were going into assembly. We showed ROB-E in assembly and then took him into the classrooms.

Me and Gareth did some maths off the blackboard and then Me, Doug and Gareth took ROB-E to the staff room. 12.00 Had dinner. In the afternoon I did a piece of research on Tornados for Mrs Baldwin. Then I did a language sheet. Came home at 3.15 and played on my videopac. 4.30 Had tea.

5.15 Watched Grange Hill and when I had seen that, again I played on my videopac until 6.40 When I watched Doctor Who. At 7.00 I watched the A-Team and then when that finished at 8.00 I drew a picture of Poggles (mutface) or Poggy Doggy. Then I played on my videopac. 9.40 Went to bed.

Pacing. Pacing up and down. Pacing up and down shaking my head and pulling on a Winton sweet cigarette . That’s what I remember of the frantic, torturous wait for ROB-E to turn up at Levendale Primary School on this bright, frost-ridden morning.

And no, I’m not joking about the sweet cigarette… they were long sticks of dark chocolatey gunk the same shape and length as a Rothmans King Size, coated in rice paper with a brown filter tip and a glowing red end. Us kids bought them in little white packs of twenty from the local VG shop around the corner from the school gates and gave Mr Chalkey a nervous twitch on winter mornings by expertly sucking on them and exhaling huge clouds of icy breath as we marched across the playground.

Our favoured brand was called ‘Winton’ and looked EXACTLY like an authentic box of ‘Winston’ cigarettes – I can’t find a picture of them anywhere, but it was this kind of thing…


Look! LOOK! SWEETS DESIGNED TO GET KIDS SMOKING!!!! It’s amazing. Are they still legal? They might as well have sold us ‘HEROINE CANDY’, fizzy, fluffy sherbert in a tasty toffee syringe injected onto the tongue for the tastiest trip in town.     

Anyway! ROB-E! Yes, the big day had arrived, the day when our headmaster Mr Chalkley had kindly allowed Doug and me to finally trundle our pet robot from Doug’s Dad’s garage and into our school assembly. I was still babbling incoherently to my form teacher at 9.10am ‘Mrskeaseydougsmeantobebringingtherobottoday (pause for tear-flecked breath) andhesnothere’ (to a resulting ‘OK, what am I supposed to do about it?’ shrug) and then three minutes later I heard one excited five-year-old tell another that ‘there’s gunner be a wobot in the woom today’.

I was having my own nervous twitch by 9.15, when I finally saw Doug and his Mum screech to the front of the school in their vintage yellow Lada and trundle ROB-E through to reception. 

Ridiculously we didn’t take a single photo of our magnificent creation, but I’ve had a rummage online and this is a pretty close approximation of what we’d spend the entire winter building…


Ours wasn’t blue though, he was silver. We weren’t nutters, after all.

While the amazingly bearded Mr Chalkley introduced assembly, Doug and I hid behind the school hall curtains in the little cubby hole where the pommel horses were kept. I got a giggling fit again when the rest of the school sang ‘Water Of Life’. Then we were introduced, and we wheeled ROB-E out into the centre of the hall. I still remember the rush of adrenaline I got when the bank of Fourth Year Juniors sitting on the floor in front of us (all in that weird cross-legged yogic position only ever employed by primary school children and Mahatma Gandhi) abandoned all restraint and surged forward in a massed throng to see our creation.

If they’d believed the hyped-up propaganda that Doug and I had spent the week shamelessly spreading around school, what they were getting was a gleaming, fully-functional cross between C3PO, K9 and Zen from Blake’s 7. Safe to say they were probably slightly disappointed. Still, Doug’s ingenious cassette recorder lash-up worked a treat, and with stalwart Videopac G7000 owner Gareth Jones acting as control box operator, ROB-E greeted the school in a prissy, chirpy pre-pubescent voice (mine) recorded onto a Dynamic TDK C60 over twenty minutes of the Mike Read Breakfast Show on S-S-S-Super Radio One, and gave a quick hello to ‘Franky, Tucker, Ozzie and Knibbsy’.  

Then it was backstage again for spam fritters, champagne and an extra helping of Winton Cigarettes all round.


The rest of the day was a giddy, meaningless, head-spinning blur, which is probably the best way to watch Part Four of ‘Warriors Of The Deep’. I think I started to come down from my exertions just in time to see this…

Anyone fancy doing a bit of Photoshop magic to see if they can turn that blue robot to silver?



  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

You are far too harsh on your robot, young Fischer. In the week that the schoolchildren of Britain were exposed to the aforementioned Myrka you must realise that even the droopy blue specimen shown must have looked cutting edge, never mind your own silver-and-voiceboxed creation. In this respect your timing was perfect: had you waited a few weeks, you’d have been up against the magnificent Kamelion and nobody could compete with that.

  bobfischer wrote @

Kind words, Dr Parcel. And yes, I’d forgotten about poor Kamelion! We couldn’t have matched his prowess, although I suppose Doug or I could just have told everyone we were Kamelion. Who could have proved otherwise?

Look at all the non-Doctor Who fans out there now scratching their heads and looking for a better blog to read every day. 😉

  Drew Smith wrote @

  bobfischer wrote @

I was a smoker for nearly ten years. I now realise that Barney Rubble was to blame.

Wonder if I can pin my marker-pen-sniffing habit on Captain Caveman?

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