Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 21

Saturday 21st January 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 9.30. We got the 10.00 bus to Middlesbrough, and I went into Smiths and bought the book ‘Mawdryn Undead’. Then we went to Tesco, Boots, The pet shop, Hintons and I got the lion the witch and the wardrobe. Then we went back to Smiths and got some sellotape.

At grandma’s I read Mawdryn Undead and had a bacon sandwich, then I started to read the lion the witch and the wardrobe. Then me, mam and grandma took Tina down devil’s bridge. There was a bit of snow around, and I said it would snow heavily tonight.

When we came back I had tea. After tea I played on the videopac and at 5.55 Mam and dad went home and I watched Little and large. 6.30 Watched Child’s play 7.10 Trevor came and I put the videopac on. 8.5 Watched Les Dawson and read my book at 8.45. Went to bed at 10.30 and read till 11.00. Finished the book.

Ahhhhh…. right. This was a lovely day, and one that has remained firmly lodged in my memory over the years. It’s also a day that’s described in detail in ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’, in the Robin Of Sherwood chapter. Because this weekend was the precise moment that my youthful affections changed from sci-fi to (ahem) fantasy. But more of that tomorrow…

It’s all to do with ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, though. I think I’d seen the late 1970s animated version on TV one chilly morning during Christmas week, and been utterly entranced by it. So naturally I wanted to seek out the paperback version, and was delighted to find THIS copy…


…on the shelves on Hinton’s, a uniquely North-Eastern supermarket that seemed to smell permanently of cats and baked beans. It cost me 95p of hard-earned pocket money, then it was back to the lovely, cosy enclave of my Gran’s bungalow, and despite a brief foray into Mawdryn Undead (a Doctor Who novelisation that looks like this…


…and yes, it’s STILL my favourite Doctor Who story of all time, but we’ll talk about it more another time) it was the lure of Narnia that dominated the day.

I can’t even begin to describe how happy and warm and loved I felt on days like this. My gran’s front room, Grandstand on the TV, a bacon sandwich and a good book – what more to life was there?

And, to me, the magic and the exquisite beauty of Narnia came from the landscapes and the imagery – the hills, the trees, the dancing, twirling snowflakes caught in the orange glare of an incongruous street light. So when I looked out through the front room windows and caught sight of the lengthening shadows, and the beginnings of a snowfall in the orange glare of an Acklam streetlight, it seemed like all that magic and exquisite beauty had flooded into my own, real life.

And all I remember about tramping around Devil’s Bridge – with my Mum and my Gran and the dog in tow – is  making that prediction of an overnight heavy snowfall. Devil’s Bridge was just a little stone bridge over a trickling stream on the edge of the housing estate, but that day it seemed infused with the spirit of Narnia itself. And I wanted it to snow SO badly, just to make the fantasy complete.

And… well… here you go. I went back there a couple of days ago, for the first time in almost 25 years. And I wasn’t alone…

A very, very strange but entirely welcome feeling to be back. And as we walked up to the bridge, I was instantly transported to being even younger than my 1984 self… of being four years old, and barely able to see over the stone ridges of that tiny hump-backed bridge. And playing Pooh Sticks again and again and again with my endlessly patient Mum and Gran. So, hey… for old time’s sake…

You can tell I had a fun day back in 1984, because I stayed over at my Gran’s bungalow that night… probably one of the very last times I did so. But it was lovely as ever to see my Uncle Trevor, and I remember so clearly lying in the spare room bed that night, avidly ploughing through the Pevensey childrens’ adventures, and gazing intently into the wardrobe just hoping for a glimpse of fir tree and the unearthly shine of a crunchy fresh snowfall…

Tuck me in if I fall asleep before I finish writing this. 🙂



  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I strongly approve of this new addition of videos to the proceedings. But pooh sticks is not pooh sticks unless at least two sticks are racing (a genuine Chapman/Chinn lyric there, I expect) and so this particular game of pooh sticks can not be considered canon.
Why is this bridge named after a devil by the way?

  bobfischer wrote @

This is Middlesbrough, Dr Parcel. We don’t play by nobody’s rules. We’re mavericks, but we get results.

(Usually 1-0 home defeats, admittedly)

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Haha I was thinking the same thing about Pooh sticks! Needs to be a twosome for sure ;p

  bobfischer wrote @

I had no idea that Pooh sticks was meant to be competitive! Ah, the curse of the only child…

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