Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 22

Sunday 22nd January 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and got up at 9.00 and played on my videopac. Outside it is thick snow and when mam and dad came at 10.00 I pelted them with snowballs. Went home at 11.00 and rung Doug to see if he wanted to go sledging down the sheepwash. 

He said he was going out and would ring back at 1.00. At 12.00 We had dinner and then at 1.30 Doug still hadn’t rung so we took Poggy Doggy and the sledge up to the sheepwash. It was thick snow up on the moors and it had been drifting so after giving Poggy Doggy a scrubber we went up the top and me and dad had a snowball fight.

Then we went down and I sledged down and nearly ended up in the river. I had a few more goes and at 3.00 We came home. 5.30 Had tea and at 7.15 I watched Hi-de-hi. 9.25 Watched That’s life and at 10.15 I went to bed.

Another brilliant day that’s still filed away with huge gooey fondness at the back of my cluttered mind. I’d spent the night in my Gran’s bungalow, remember, reading The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe before slumbering down in the spare room. And I still remember my Gran’s understated greeting at 8.30am when she came to give my feeble shoulder a little shake.

She said ‘It’s been snowing quite a lot through the night if you want to have a look’.

And I can still remember the thought that instantly raced through my mind. it was…


I leapt out of bed and tore back the bedroom curtains to see – well, Narnia. On a surburban street on the outskirts of Middlesbrough. A thick, pristine blanket of blinding white snow covering everything… the pavement and road and garden were all indistinguishable from each other, and gigantic wedges of the stuff were hanging from lamp-posts and telegraph poles. I wish I’d taken a photo, but in my mind it looked like this…


I write about this morning in ‘Wiffle Lever To Full’ because this was, truly, the weekend that my allegiances shifted slightly from a childhood love of sci-fi to a pre-teen obsession with fantasy. When I raced out of the bungalow to throw snowballs at my laughing parents, I wasn’t on the Ice Planet of Hoth any more, I was in the winter-gripped realm of Narnia. Within a few short years I’d be playing Dungeons and Dragons while drinking cider and listening to early Iron Maiden, but that’s another story. And it’s still available from amazon.co.uk for a very reasonable price… 😉

My Dad, bless him, has never lost his joy of the wild, the woolly and the wilderness, and took no persuading whatsover to drive Poggy Doggy and myself to the Sheepwash, a regular Sunday lunchtime destination for our rattling Reliant Scimitar. I still associate the Sheepwash completely with the taste of Heinz oxtail soup and the theme from Weekend World.

And today, I went back there…! Here we are ‘up the top’, where the snowball fight took place…

And this is, undoubtedly, the location of that hair-raising sledge descent into (ahem) ‘the river’. Careful, it’s white-knuckle stuff!

If any passing TV executives want to employ Allie and me to be the John Noakes and Shep for the X-Box Generation, then we’re very much available, although you’ll have to go through the dog’s agent…

I can still remember the look and – more crucially – the smell of the gloves that I wore on this day. They were chunky red and white plastic affairs from C&A in Middlesbrough, and on the inside they had a foamy, springy gauze that stank to high heaven after twenty minutes of snow-fuelled fun. A mixture of rubber, man-made fibre and excited childs’ sweat that would take me back there in an instant if I caught a whiff of it now. I find smells do that to me, much moreso than any other sense.

Now… you’ve probably seen the phrase ‘after giving Poggy Doggy a scrubber’ and wondered what manner of foul devilment this arcane, obscene practice involved.

Well, brace yourself – not content with with actually throwing snowballs at friends, family members and (forgive me) the dog, us snotty-nosed eleven-year-olds would also attempt to creep up on them from behind and enthusiastically ‘scrub’ their faces with a handful of compacted, rock-hard snow.


It was a practice virtually endemic at Levendale Primary School until the fateful day that Timothy Lewis passed out on the receiving end of a vigorous ‘scrubber’ from Simon Werther and had to be taken away in an ambulance.

Did anyone else have ‘scrubbers’ in their childhood, or is it another purely Teesside phenomenon to be filed away with ‘tarzies’?

Here’s the intro to Weekend World (and a glimpse of the mighty Brian Walden) while we ponder on the matter. The background TV show of choice for nearly every early 80s Sunday dinnertime. That theme tune is AMAZING – anyone know what it is and where I can find it?


  PJEUK wrote @

Can confirm that “scrubbing” was rife north of the Tees along with the “10 second tuck-in”.

This was basically tripping up some unsuspecting parka clad kid in the snow and as he managed to hunker down we’d kick snow into his face, shove hand fulls of the stuff up his coat / jumper for the aforementioned 10 seconds …… then run off laughing.

  bobfischer wrote @

Excellent – good to know that Teesside bred a generation of enthusiastic scrubbers throughout the 1980s. Hang on, maybe I should rephrase that…

I don’t think we had the ’10 second tuck-in’ sadly… well, we did but we just didn’t call it that! It was just, erm, a good knacking. Often again resulting in an ambulance being called and a stern lecture being given in assembly the following morning.

Ah, the age of innocence… 🙂

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