Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 24

Tuesday 24th January 1984

7.50 Woke up and got up at 8.00. The first thing we did at school was go in for assembly and after assembly Mrs Mulhern gave us a language sheet to do. I did that all morning until 12.00 When we went in for dinner. After dinner me, Ozzie, Simpy, Nibbsy, Mason and Harry played American football on the grass in the snow.

In the afternoon I read some more of the Dark Crystal, did some maths, sorted out my file and showed Ozzie the Guardian of Goblin Grotto. Came home at 3.15 and played on the Videopac. Beat my high score of 1044 on Pac-Man by scoring 1747. After that I wrote some of the book and at 4.45 I had tea.

5.5 Watched Grange Hill 5.40 Went out and mucked about on the Tarzie and the sledge. When I came in I wrote some of the book. After that I played on the videopac and at 9.00 Watched a kick up the Eighties. 9.30 Went to bed.

American Football! Ha! Ha! Ha!

We wouldn’t have known the first thing about American Football, other than the helpful facts that a) they played it in America, and b) it was bugger all like football. As far as we knew it was more like rugby but American footballers were clearly big soft lassies, because unlike rugby players they had to put loads of padding and helmets and stuff on themselves before they minced around each other getting their stilleto heels caught in the turf.


So when I say we ‘played American Football’ I suspect what I actually mean is that we picked up the bog-standard tatty ‘casey’ football that Steven Mason had found in the alleyway round the back of the VG shop, ran about with it for a bit, and then beat seven bells out of each other while rolling around in the snow.  

I was clearly in strangely mischievious mood on this diary-writing day as well, because ‘Simpy’ is just my best mate Doug, and I don’t think I ever called him ‘Simpy’ on any other occasion than this one. I must have just baulked at the incongruity of putting the name ‘Doug’ alongside loads of surnames with the letter ‘y’ added to the end of them. It probably says something deeply disturbing about my 11-year-old psychology, although I’m not sure why I didn’t turn Steven Mason into ‘Masony’.

Harry, by the way, was Robert Harrison, a softly-spoken skinhead who (I think) occasionally swam competitively for his county. And Knibbsy was Nicholas Nibbs, a funny skinny lad a couple of years younger than us. It seems odd these days, but at school it was incredibly unusual to mingle with anyone outside your own year group, so we must have made a very special exception for Nibbsy.

It might have had something to do with the fact that he had THE most SENSATIONAL ears. As I remember, he looked a lot like Alfred E Neuman from MAD Magazine.


I’ve obviously started to enter some strange sense of denial about my Videopac G7000 as well. I’m now defiantly referring to the cheap knock-off game ‘Munchkin’ as ‘Pac-Man’ which… well, it wasn’t! Although it desperately wanted to be. But – and there’s no getting around this – Pac-Man is an ATARI GAME. And I didn’t get an Atari for Christmas, I got a PHILIPS VIDEOPAC G7000. With Munchkin. Not Pac-Man.

Get over it, Fischer.

I like the ‘mucking about with the tarzie and the sledge’ bit as well. Basically, the tarzie in our garden hung from a tree branch over a sloped bit of grass that I’d worn down to bare soil by endlessly scraping myself along it on the end of that bloody rope. I think I spent the evening kicking my sledge off running down the snowy slope, then swinging high on the tarzie and jumping off to land on the moving sledge.

Altogether now, ‘I might fall from a tall building, I might roll a brand new car…’

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