Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 19

Thursday 19th January 1984

7.40 Woke up  8.00 Got up and at school me and Ozzie coloured in some of the pictures for the guardian of goblin grotto. 10.10 Went to the baths and first everyone had a muck about, then they did everybody individually to see if they could swim a lenghth Freestyle, and Backstroke. Then they had a race over 4 widths.

12.00 Had dinner and in the afternoon I started to do maths but we had to go out for football. We won 4-2. I scored 3 (one was disallowed), pitfield scored one and Twinner scored one. 3.15 Came home and wrote some of the book.

At 4.45 I had tea and after that I wrote some more of the book. When I got sick of that I played on the videopac. 6.40 Watched Dr Who 7.00 played on videopac, 7.30 Watched Carry on laughing 8.00 Played on videopac and then at 9.30 I went to go in the bath and to go to bed.

Yes! Mine and Ozzie’s Fighting Fantasy book finally has a title! It’s powerful, enigmatic and attention-grabbing and it’s… erm…

The Guardian Of Goblin Grotto.

It’s such a shame that my normally scarily retentive memory completely lets me down though, and I can’t remember a single thing about the book. Really, I can’t… nothing whatsoever other than the title. Good to see, however, that two days into the writing process we’d given up on actual writing and just starting colouring in the pictures instead. I think Marcel Proust took a similar approach to his work.


And a school swimming trip, hooray! Yes, every Thursday morning a couple of dozen of us would pile into a minibus, stink out the upholstery with farts and Cheese & Onion Monster Munch, rattle our way through Yarm High Street and pile into the bijou swimming pool at Eaglescliffe Comprehensive, a mile or so down the road.

Things I especially remember about school swimming expeditions…

1. Singing the theme from ‘Minder’ while getting undressed and trying desperately not to look at each others willies.  

2. Christopher Herbert having to wear a special plastic sock to cover up his verrucas and athlete’s foot. I’d like to think he had one one his willy as well, just in case, but obviously I didn’t look.

3. Being forced to wade through a little square of freezing cold ‘disinfectant’ before diving into the pool itself. This foul-smelling pool of rancid liquid was apparently designed to prevent us from catching verrucas and athlete’s foot, and seemed to consist of two parts Domestos to one part Ready Brek to one part flaky scales of childrens’ skin. Most of which had been, until recently, attached to Christopher Herbert’s feet. Can’t really blame it for wanting to start a new life in a freezing cold puddle of Domestos and Ready Brek.

4.  The sombre return journey on the minibus, with its all-pervading aroma of farts, Cheese & Onion Monster Munch and chlorinated water caked onto unwashed hair.

Quite a sporty day this, clearly… barely time for dinner before an afternoon of football! Another couple of typically opportunistic Fischer strikes, you’ll note… at this stage of the season, I was like a house on fire. Smouldering gently and looking likely to collapse at any second.

‘Twinner’ will have been one of the delightful ginger twins Tom and Jonty Walton, although obviously since – as far as we were concerned –  they were pretty much the same person they both got called ‘Twinner’ and that saved us making any effort to actually bother telling them apart. The last time I saw Twinner was about six months ago, when he popped up as a contestant on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. Not sure which Twinner it was, though. (I should insert a little friendly winky thing here in case either of them get to read this, in which case – come and say hello!)


And obligatory Doctor Who footnote – tonight’s episode was Part One of ‘The Awakening’, a spooky little tale set in the village of Little Hodcombe, in which a demon-like creature called The Malus creates a time link between 1984 and the English Civil War of 1643. I loved Doctor Who most of all when it was set in present-day England, because it made it all the more likely that, one day, I’d see the TARDIS appear in my own back garden. And that the Doctor would whisk me away forever from farts, Cheese & Onion Monster Munch and Christopher Herbert’s feet…



  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Notice how that Malus creature is gazing straight ahead of itself, trying very hard not to catch sight of another Malus’s gnarled stone willy.

  bobfischer wrote @

I like to think he has to paddle through a little puddle of freezing Domestos and Ready Brek before he’s allowed to switch time zones.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I think you are right. I seem to remember he vomited a thick stream of exactly that onto the floor of Doctor Who’s Tardis. And who can blame him?

  Drew Smith wrote @

“7.30 Watched Carry on laughing”

I’m pretty sure you could have had your parents done for child abuse for letting you sit through that.

  bobfischer wrote @

The Malus did have a little technicolour yawn in the TARDIS, didn’t he? I’d completely forgotten about that. He must have overdone it in the Little Hodcombe kebab shop.

Re: ‘Carry On Laughing’… I should point out in the name of comedy accuracy that there are two different shows called ‘Carry On Laughing’. The first was a proper series of original Carry On-style sitcoms starring Sid James, Hattie Jacques et al, made in 1975. I’VE NEVER SEEN ANY OF THESE.

The second ‘Carry On Laughing’ series was just a load of random clips from the various films, bunged together in half-hour compilations. ITV seemed to show them pretty much every night from about 1981-1985. That’s what I was watching on this night.

I think you’ve got it wrong, though – my parents won’t really have wanted to watch them. It was me. In fact, they could have had me done for parent abuse.

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

Ha, yeah I was thinking of the shitcom rather than the compilations. Watching Babera Winsors norks pop out with your parents is absolutley fine.

  John Williams wrote @

You had a minibus! We had to walk to the swimming baths every Tuesday afternoon. A 15 minute walk no less. And I had to do it in veruca socks which my mum helped me put on at dinner time because it was impossible to get them on by myself. By the time I’d got to the pool the tight-fitting socks had cut off all circulation to my feet and I used to totter on numb stumps to the pool. By the time I got home I used to collapse in agony while my mum peeled off the socks and tended to my bright blue feet.

And then it started all over again the following Tuesday. Now that’s child abuse. Forget your Carry On Laughing.

  bobfischer wrote @

Blimey. And you try telling that to kids today… 😉 I’m proud to say I never had a single verruca until I was 29, and lord only knows where it came from as I hadn’t been near a swimming baths for about fifteen years at that point.

I’m now off to form a punk band called Verruca Sox and the Numb Stumps.

Was the Carry On Laughing sitcom really bad, then? I’d never heard of it until the DVDs came out, but I’ve never got round to them. Apart from the occasional Sid and Hattie appearance, isn’t it pretty much the Carry On reserve team?

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