Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 31

Tuesday 31st January 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. I took to school the encyclopaedia that I got for christmas and the first thing I did at school was go in for hymn practice and when we came out I wrote my RE. After that I started to do some maths and at 12.00 I had dinner.

In the afternoon I finished maths and did some topic then I went out for football on the playground. When we came in Mrs Keasey’s fourth years tided up the library. 3.15 came home and read my comic and then I went upstairs and played on the ZX81.

At 4.45 I had tea and then at 5.5 I watched Grange Hill. When that had finished I wrote some of a letter to Richard. 6.40 Watched Tucker’s luck and at 7.15 I did some more of the letter. At 8.15 I watched the last part of the TV Times awards and at 8.30 I watched Benny Hill. 9.00 Watched Alas, Smith and Jones. 9.30 Went to bed.

First of all, a little word about the ‘encyclopaedia that I got for christmas’. A huge red breezeblock of a present that my parents clearly thought would advance my education, and indeed it did. Mainly via pages 34-35, which told me more about the human reproductive system than I’d ever learnt before. I still remember Christmas Day 1983, and the immortal moment that I learnt the phrase ‘fallopian tube’ while watching Rolf Harris in ‘The Little Convict’.

The whole grisly business was, oddly, something that absolutely mortified me. (We’re talking about sex here, by the way, not Rolf Harris. Although now you mention it…)

I was absolutely happy to talk in minute detail about muck, filth and all manner of sauce when alone with Doug. However, as far as I was concerned, the fact that we actually knew about (gasp) ‘IT’ was an official secret on a par with the Roswell crash and the Philadelphia experiment. The prospect of my parents finding out the extent of my knowledge of (ahem) ‘the facts of life’ was probably my Number One Fear in life at this point, just nudging ahead of nuclear war and Claire Hamilton.

(I appreciate that, in an ideal world, Simon Bates would be doing the countdown for that lot)

All of this probably now seems a little quaint in an age when 11-year-old boys are considered immature if they don’t stoke barbecues while swigging cans of Kronenbourg and sucking on a bong. But my fear was compounded even further by the fact that before I left Levendale Primary  School in July, I would have to be subjected to… (wait for it) a SEX EDUCATION FILM.

I knew this because previous generations of Levendale Primary School pupils had told us about it in coded messages. ‘You get to see people, like, actually DOING IT’, Simon Brody had told us, tittering through the sleeve of his British Home Stores cardigan. I’d nearly fainted on the spot. 


Luckily, I was still able to blot such horror out of my mind with the aid of my trusty ZX81 and a bit of RE. Is Religious Education still compulsory in schools these days, or has that been abandoned now? I think we were made to write out ‘The Parable of the Talents’ on average once every three weeks throughout my seven years at Levendale Primary School, and I still couldn’t understand why it was such a bad thing to bury a one pound note in the back garden. I’d had an Imperial Stormtrooper action figure buried near the laburnam bush for nearly five months now, and it hadn’t done him any harm. And he was worth more than a pound.

OK, couple of bits… the ‘letter to Richard’. Richard being my old chum Richard Moxham, as featured heavily in ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’ as the star of my 1981 sci-fi opus ‘The Battle To Save Earth’. He and his family had emigrated to Canada by this point, and we were making slightly rubbish attempts to keep in touch with long, rambling letters about The A-Team and Imperial Stormtroopers buried in the garden.

And ‘Alas Smith And Jones’! Yes, Mel and Griff. And this – brilliantly – was the first episode of the first series. We all knew who they were, of course, because of ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’, and there wasn’t a kid in school who couldn’t say ‘Eeeeet is not Nelson’s Column, eeet is Nelson’s Willeeeeeeee’ while pulling a succession of vile, rubbery faces.

So this was a momentous moment. Although naturally I had to avoid laughing at anything remotely ‘fruity’ in case my parents realised that (horror!) I knew… too… much…

Here it is anyway, a bit of that very show…  


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