Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 27

Friday 27th January 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. The first thing I did at school was finish my painting and half way through it we had to go to Nitty Nora. When I had done my picture I went into the second maths group and we had to do some Multiplication.

When I came out I copied out the Hawaii work that I did yesterday and at 12.00 I had dinner. After dinner I did the maths that we had to do and then I had finished everything and for the rest of the day I just mucked around with Ozzie.

3.15 Came home and played on the videopac and at 4.45 I had tea. 5.5 Watched Grange Hill and played on the videopac until 6.40, When I watched Doctor Who. 7.00 Watched the A-Team and then at 9.00 I watched Auf Weidersien, pet. At 10.00 I went to bed.

Oh, blimey! Altogether now… ‘Nitty Nora, Hair Explorer…’

Yep, every few months at Levendale Primary School Mr Millward would trawl the ‘end room’ with a bloody big fishing net, and the resulting tangled mess of captive, snotty 11-year-olds would be transported through the hall, past the staff room door (with little puffs of Rothmans smoke still billowing through the crack at the bottom) and into our tiny First Aid room, where a middle-aged woman with a solid granite perm would poke through our tousled barnets looking for headlice. Or, as we sensitive child geniuses preferred to call them…



Amazingly, I never had nits as a child. My mother was convinced that her prohibitive standards of hygeine were responsible for this, however I’ve since discovered that headlice actually thrive more readily in clean hair, so it’s obvious that my frequent two-week stretches without so much as a drop of Vosene entering my tangled thatch actually did me a power of good.

Does Nitty Nora still exist today, and is she still plying her nimble-fingered trade in schools up and down the country? Somebody must know…

I’ve had a message this week from a devout reader of this nonsense (hello Patsy!), pointing out that I don’t actually seem to do a lot at school, and… well… (goes red, mumbles, looks at feet)… you’re right. And that was before I read today’s diary entry in which I brazenly claim that ‘for the rest of the day I just mucked around with Ozzie’.

Our teachers did seem to have a pretty laissez-faire attitude to work. Basically, we would be gathered together for a few minutes once or twice a day and given a few little tasks and exercises to do with accompanying deadlines, and then – brilliantly – we’d be left entirely to our own devices to get on with it. 

So we sat where we liked with who we liked and did whatever we thought was appropriate to get through our work in our own time. Which admittedly sometimes involved making Samurai swords out of ‘Shatterproof’ rulers and flinging Mr Men rubbers at Glenn Conroy, but hey… it worked. I don’t remember anyone particularly flouting the freedom we were given, in fact if anything we seemed to appreciate being treated with so much respect. Although I dread to think what mine and Ozzie’s ‘mucking about’ consisted of, and can only hope that it didn’t involved untoward cruelty to an Acorn Electron on a wobbly trolley.


OK, Doctor Who fans… Part Two of the story ‘Frontios’ today, in which The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough visit the last remnants of mankind, attempting to salvage a failing colony on the hostile titular planet in the face of grisly intentions from the nasty-looking Tractators, who were – essentially – giant, talking woodlice. Here…


Nitty Nora would have had them for breakfast. Or, more accurately, she’d have doused them in Phenothrin and then combed them out onto an opened-up copy of the Evening Gazette Late Final. All over Jim Jelly’s TV pages.

Good to see a mention of (ahem) ‘Auf Weidersien, pet’ as well. It was Friday night, so I was sometimes allowed to stay up quite late with my Dad eating peanuts, warming sausage rolls on the hearth of our coal fire and occasionally sipping my way through the odd can of Skol Lager. And watching rather adult TV like this… which I guess my parents thought I was just about old enough to appreciate. And I’m still eternally grateful for that.

I think this was the beginning of a full repeat run of the first series, and the opening credits still take me right back. It’s a brilliant series that I really must revisit on DVD sometime soon…

Oddly enough, I used to know Franc Roddam a little bit a few years ago. I haven’t spoken to him for ages, but he’s a lovely bloke and undoubtedly the poshest-sounding man ever to come out of Stockton-on-Tees. Although admittedly there isn’t a lot of stiff competition.


  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Nitty Nora certainly still exists although in Newspeak she is now a Designated Pediculosis Operative or Ectoparasite Tsar.
In fact the schools, kindergartens and creches of Great Britain are currently in the midst of an epidemic of headlice unseen since before the Great Freeze of 1963.
Nobody knows why, not even respected scientists like me. Some blame genetic modification, some blame the influx of citizens from the former Eastern Bloc, some blame Garnier Nutrisse with its 26 radiant and nourishing shades… ridiculous suggestions all, and symptomatic of widespread barminess and ignorance.
I suspect that the replacement of the galvanized steel fine-tooth comb with disposable plastic ones is far more likely to be at the root of the infestation explosion. That, and the increase in static electricity brought on by exposure to monitor screens. It excites the hairs and makes them too welcoming for bugs.
Science always has the answer.

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

“Amazingly, I never had nits as a child.”

The words “as a child” in this sentance speak volumes you dirty herbert. Is your beard infested as we speak?

  bobfischer wrote @

An interesting thesis, Dr Parcel, although I have to say I think your suggestions overlook one potential root (snigger) cause of the current infestation explosion… Christopher Herbert. Thankfully I haven’t been downwind of this most unsavoury of grubby little pillocks since his family emigrated to Barnstaple in the winter of 1984. However I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to discover that the current ectoparasitical epidemic had its origins centred squarely in the North Devon region.

Mr Smith, there are no flies on me.

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