Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 33

Thursday 2nd February 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. First at school I did Topic then Mrs Keasey said we had to do a story and a painting about a dragon. I started to do a rough sketch of my picture and then at 10.10 We went to the baths and the first thing we did was swim 20 lengths.  Then we had to learn how to breath doing the front crawl.

When we came back I drew my sketch 12.00 Had dinner. After dinner I started my story and then I started my painting. 3.15 Came home and wrote my story that I didn’t finish. 4.45 Had tea 5.5 Wrote some more of my story and at 5.40 I watched the Adventure game.

6.15 Wrote my story and at 6.40 I watched Doctor Who. 7.00 Wrote my story and at 7.30 I watched Carry on Laughing, then at 8.00 I watched the Steam Video Company. 8.30 Finished my story and at 9.15 I went to bed.

A momentous occasion, this particular day – surely the only day in my seven-year Primary School career that I actually did any homework!

I’m not kidding. We didn’t ‘do’ homework at Levendale Primary School. Every week, I read about the Bash Street Kids rebelling at this heinous chore, and it just didn’t ring true to me at all, because… well, it didn’t exist as far as I was concerned. So I’m not sure what happened on this particular occasion, but it’s more than likely I was just enjoying writing my ‘Dragon’ story so much that I decided to smuggle it out of school and scribble away in the evening to finish it. 


I’ve got vague memories of my story. It was definitely set in a medieval castle populated by a slightly buffoonish comedy royal family being menaced by a growly, smoke-breathing scaly beastie.  It was written, as were all my Levendale-era magnum opera, using Berol Handwriter pens, which looked (and still look) like this…


…and were capable of giving 11-year-olds a minor rush of psychedelic giddyness if they were sniffed for more than twenty minutes solid. Dean Heslop once sniffed two of them simultaneously after a Topic Group meeting and spent the entire indoor dinnertime recording a treble folk-rock album based around Series 2 of Tucker’s Luck.

Anyroad, I remember one line of my Dragon Story, which consisted of a miserable, forelock-tugging peasant addressing The King as ‘Your Majestyness’. My Mum took a passing look at this over my shoulder, frowned, and said ‘That’s not a real word, is it?’

A true artist is never appreciated in his own times.
And blimey, more dragons… yes, the friendly cuddly ones in ‘The Adventure Game’!!! I’d give a limb to have a complete collection of this on DVD. Well alright, maybe a finger. Definitely a toe. It was an utterly bonkers BBC2 show in which three kiddie-friendly celebs were transported to the surreal Planet Arg and forced to play a succession of daffy, pre-Crystal Maze games in order to escape.

It was aimed entirely at pale, geeky 11-year-old boys in parkas (handy, that) and had special effects painstakingly produced on a BBC Micro Computer. Arg was ruled by the fearsome Rangdo (who, in this series, appeared as a growling aspidistra), but it was the backwards-speaking Australian Rongad and the furry computer-controlled crittur Dogran that captured my imagination.

This was the first episode of Series 3, and the guests were still-scrummy Saturday Superstore girl Sarah Greene, Anne Miller (no, me neither) and RICHARD STILGOE!!! AGAIN!!! The man was clearly hellbent on infiltrating the minds of the nation and twisting them to his own ends. It’s like, erm, 1984 or something.

For anyone under the age of 35, here are the opening credits…

This, followed by Doctor Who (Frontios Part Three, of course), was pretty much pre-puberty geek heaven for me, although bizarrely it’s a sketch from The Steam Video Show that really sticks in my mind at this point. No idea of the context, but…

A heavily pregnant Madeleine Smith walks into a library, where she strides up to part-time Benny Hill stooge Bob Todd, lurking behind the counter.

Maddie: ‘I’m looking for Great Expectations’.
Todd: ‘By Dickens?’
Maddie: (with an innocent look to camera) ‘Is there any other way?’

Cue 11-year-old Fischer cringing into the hearthrug while Dad giggles from behind the Evening Gazette Late Final.




  Drew Smith wrote @

I have a sad suspicion that a lot of The Adventure Game was wiped.

Here is a question I have been meaning to ask you; are you spell checking your diaries as you go along? They just seem to be remarkably well spelt otherwise. At eight years old my own school scribblings were covered in teacher ink as is evident here:

There are worse examples than that.

  bobfischer wrote @

Sadly, I think you’re right about the Adventure Game, although I suspect a lot of the wiped programmes are ‘out there’… it ran from 1980 to 1986, so I bet there are a few off-air VHS recordings lying unloved in peoples’ attics.

And no, the diary entries are transcribed as seen, honest! I guess I was just a good speller. If you look closely there are certain words I had trouble with. ‘Length’ was one of them, which I misspell a lot during the swimming baths stories! Thursday 19th January, I’ve gone for ‘lenhgth’. Story of my life…

‘There was blood everywhere. I licke Rolf Harris’. 😀

  bobfischer wrote @

I guess the other point to bear in mind with ‘This Is Your Life’ is that if it came back today, it would be utterly celebrity-obsessed. You’d have presenter Vernon Kay thrusting the red book at Peter Andre, Cheryl Cole, Theo Walcott and Janine from Eastenders.

Whereas in our day, you were more likely to find Sir Leonard Cheshire or the Duke of Argyll being surprised by the super-stealthy Eamonn. At which point I’d go back to The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and my Mum would say ‘Bugger that, what’s on BBC2?’ yet again.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I can’t believe you haven’t made reference to 20 lengths?! You surely didn’t swim 20 lengths as an 11 year old?

I had a snippet of The Adventure Game in my head for years (the little discs with the coloured squares and triangles etc) and I never knew what it was. One day in desperation I texted Barney and bless him, he knew what I was talking about!

I’ve seen one ep online-I wish we could see them all. Classic Kids tv!

  bobfischer wrote @

Ah, don’t get too excited about the lengths (madam!)… it was a tiny pool. Just a little school one, probably about a quarter of the size of your normal public baths. When 20 of us got in all at once, it looked like the opening scenes from Saving Private Ryan.

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to swim 20 lengths of a normal-sized pool. Probably couldn’t even walk it.

I might have a couple of full episodes of The Adventue Game lurking in a dark corner somewhere – I’ll have a rummage around!

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