Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 23

Monday 23rd January 1984

Woke up at 7.40 and got up at 8.00 and it was thick snow outside. The first thing I did at school was go into our topic groups and then when we came out me and Ozzie did some work on maps for topic. At 12.00 it was snowing like mad so it was an indoor playtime and everybody was drawing Chads.

After dinner we went into maths groups and we had to do some work on scale. After I had done some of that I read until we went home at 3.15. When  I came home I wrote some of the Guardian of Goblin Grotto and then when I had got sick of that I played on the videopac.

4.45 Had tea and then after tea I played on the videopac. 5.40 took Poggy Doggy for a walk and it was snowing like mad. Half way all the lights went out and on the way back I went to Doug’s and got my gloves. 9.30 Went to bed.

Snowy days at school always brought both brilliance and frustration in equal measure. Brilliance because they were such a mind-blowing departure from the humdrum… late buses, doom-laden local news reports from (the appropriately named) Paul Frost, snowball fights at the gates and then taking off your wellies in the cloakroom and putting them in a Hinton’s carrier bag for the day before slipping into your normal StartRite lace-ups.

(Of course, only scum like me wore the bog-standard black wellies. The posh kids who liked ponies and Enid Blyton wore silver, puffed-up moonboots, later adopted by the Cybermen in Doctor Who. Think I’m joking? I’m not. And yes, these are genuine props…)


The frustration came because our expectations for the day were entirely different to those of our teachers. So when dinnertime came around and the playground looked like the kind of white-out Antarctic wilderness that would make Roald Amundsen shake his head, suck his teeth and opt for a nice cup of cocoa in front of Pebble Mill At One, we wanted to be out there wreaking havoc with agonising scrubbers and 10-second tuck-ins.

Our teachers, meanwhile, saw only first aid bills and 999 calls and ‘thick snow’ (clearly my favourite phrase of the time) being tramped all over the open plan classrooms, and barricaded us in the building. But still… CHADS!

I presume everyone knows what a chad is. It’s one of these…


…what’s probably not obvious is why on Earth this strange 1950s craze hit Levendale Primary School on a blizzard-ridden January day in 1984. I know exactly why, though. It was because the previous night’s episode of Hi-De-Hi (which I watched – go on, scroll down and have a look) featured a chad epidemic at Maplin’s holiday camp!

I wish Mr Hirst had taken a leaf out of Joe Maplin’s book and gathered us in the end room to read a semi-literate Maplinesque letter of warning from the school governer to us all.

‘Now listen up, you lot. I ain’t spent my hard-earned on building this rotten school to have a load of namby-pamby ponces from Kirklevington and Hilton drawing chads all over my perforated computer paper. Now shape up or ship out, and tell that cracking bit of stuff Mrs Wordsworth to show a bit of leg on parents night or she’s out on her ear and all’.

Sadly, he didn’t. Amazing though, the unifying effect that a simple TV sitcom had on us at such a tender age. Do kids these days go to school and act out scenes from My Family on snowy lunchtimes? As Joe Maplin (or our school governer) would no doubt say: course they bleedin’ don’t.


And blimey, my gloves! My smelly gloves! I didn’t have them at the Sheepwash at all the previous day. I must have left them in Doug’s garage the last time I was there, on the 17th January. After five days of stinking the place out, I’m only surprised his parents hadn’t called Environmental Health by this point.

I do remember the walk down the road to get them, through ‘thick snow’ indeed, and an absolutely horizontal blizzard of what my Mum would call ‘feather dusters’. Beautiful stuff, and she was with me at the time, although I don’t mention it in my diary for some reason.  I just remember our delighted reaction when all the street lights went out on the way back.

Another lucky escape from the humdrum, and another doom-laden news report on Northern Life… (not this one, granted – but the opening credits take me right back, and it does have Paul Frost on it!)


  Stephen Isabirye wrote @

I liked that word, “posh.” i.e. posh kids that liked Enid Blyton wearing silver. I remember In Five Go Off To Caravan, Nobby, towards the end of the book/adventure, describing The Four members of The Famous Five as being “posh.” Probably, that could raise accusations on Enid Blyton’s past as beins “classist.” Nonetheless, suffice to note that I have written and published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com).
Stephen Isabirye

  bobfischer wrote @

I should probably point out that it was silver moonboots my schoolfriends were wearing, and not just silver! Even my school wasn’t THAT posh. 🙂

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