Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 40

Thursday 9th February 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. The first thing I did at school was write a poem in the shape of a dog. At 10.10 We went swimming and first we could do anything we wanted, then we had to do a few lengths freestyle, then we had to swim a length.

At 11.10 We came back and at 12.00 I had dinner. In the afternoon In the afternoon (another mistake) I did apicture of a face, half white half black. I started my RE as well. At 3.15 I came home and wrote some of the Guardian and at 4.00 I went on the front Garden and played football and at 4.45 I had tea.

After tea I finished the Guardian of Goblin Grotto and at 7.30 I watched Carry on laughing. 8.00 Played Chess with dad and at 9.15 I watched the end of The Steam video company. 9.30 Went to bed.

I can’t help but notice that I was incredibly regular getting out of bed in 1984. You’d be forgiven for thinking I had an AMAZINGLY efficient alarm clock on my bedside table, but I didn’t… what I actually had was…


a) A table lamp made out of a Mateus wine bottle with an ‘ET Phone Home’ lampshade. Embarrassingly, this stayed there until I was 23. You know how embarrassing objects in your house kind of fade away into the background, and you don’t notice them at all until somebody else comes around and points them out? This happened with the ‘ET Phone Home’ lampshade. Unfortunately the ‘somebody else’ was (ahem) a young lady friend who had (ahem) come to keep me company one summery night in 1996 while my parents were away. She was draping herself across the duvet when she noticed it and burst out laughing. Kind of spoiled the moment, really.


b) An Empire Strikes Back ‘Zuckuss’ action figure. This had gone by 1996, so he’s off the hook.

c) A crappy, square plastic clock with the obligatory 1980s cream casing, a black clock face and luminous hands that, when I was small, used to scare me in the night with their nasty green blotches. Its alarm had long since ceased to buzz though, so in 1984 my 7.50am wake-up call came from my Mum, barging open the bedroom door (usually dislodging a pile of Star Wars Weeklies in the process) and shouting…


I’d then wolf down a bowl of Coco Pops (a name my Dad would always pronounce in a hilariously deep voice, like the monkey in the TV advert) and pelt outside to catch the school bus.

Good to see the old ‘freestyle’ swimming stroke getting a mention! This may well have been the day on which we were first told to swim ‘freestyle’, to much confusion amongst our skinny, pigeon-chested number. We knew what backstroke and breaststroke were (especially the latter, because… y’know… breasts… strokes… guffaw…) but ‘freestyle’ was something we weren’t sure about, and there was a lot of muttering amongst our group as we bobbed aimlessly along the edge of the pool.


Suddenly! ‘I know what it means!’ proclaimed Andrew Harding, out of nowhere. ‘It means you can swim in whatever style you like!’ Cue thirty 11-year-old idiots thrashing maniacally along the length of the pool in a chaotic melee of jerking, freakish, improvised swimming styles, no doubt pulling a gurning gallery of entirely offensive ‘Joey Deacon’ faces in the process.

Mr Hirst was NOT impressed. After all, it was this kind of behaviour that had brought about the sad demise of Jeremy Irvine in Grange Hill.

I remember doing the ‘poem in the shape of a dog’ really clearly. I was always drawing cartoon Poggy Doggys, so this was meat and drink to me. Unlike our dinner, which was Spam Fritters and tepid tapwater. I can’t remember the poem or the shape exactly, but I’ve had a go at recreating this from memory…


The ‘face, half white half black’ I don’t really remember, although I’ve got a vague feeling it was an ‘Ebony And Ivory’ style attempt at a bit of cross-cultural awareness, which Mrs Mulhern was – quite rightly – big on in the mid-1980s. For years we sang THIS song in school assembly, and it’s only recently that I’ve discovered it was actually a chart hit in the early 70s…!

We didn’t have the cool, reggae beat to our version though. We just had Steven Cooper whispering ‘doopy doop doo’ after every other line, for reasons I never discovered.

Anyway, get out the bunting, we’ve finished ‘The Guardian Of Goblin Grotto!’ Yes, a complete Fighting Fantasy adventure by Robert Fischer and Ian Oswald. I was SO proud of this, and still can’t believe that – about a year later – I decided that Fighting Fantasies weren’t for me any more, and threw it out. I’d love to see it again.

You’ll notice as well that I only get to see ‘the end of The Steam video company’ doubtless because my Dad wanted to watch some crappy Winter Olympics coverage on BBC1. ‘I’ve finished work, I’ve had my tea, I’ve had my bath, I’ve put my cream shirt and brown slacks on, all I want to do now is drink a cup of coffee and watch live coverage of the Men’s Luge from Sarajevo’.

That was his catchphrase.




  Fiona Tims wrote @

I was going to make a comment about your fantastical ability to be up at the same time every day-but I had assumed it was your mum waking you up ;p

I’m liking the dog poem. In primary school, I went through a phase of drawing a picture, colouring it in and then writing a poem over the top of it. I kept winning the poetry competitions with that design hehe

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

In secondary school I wrote a shape poem – to this day it remains the only poem I can recite off the top of my head;

Oh, my finger lickin’ chickin’
To my fingers it is stickin’
Not So long since I was pickin’
On my finger lickin’ chickin’

(c) Drew Smith

  bobfischer wrote @

I’m very regimented. Even now, I get up at 11am on the dot every single day. 😉

Were shape poems common, then? I thought it was just me on that one occasion… definitely can’t remember any others. The chickin’ poem is a sensation, though. Are you an 85-year-old Mississippi bluesman, by any chance?

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I was going to mention the thirteen stanza poem I once wrote in the shape of a complex streptococcus but unfortunately I dropped my notepad into some potassium permanganate solution after seeing your final photograph –
It reminded me of my boarding school although we tended to wear blazer and tie. And trousers of course.

The chicken poem is a splendid example of balsamic pentameter but I’m afraid Fischer Snr’s catchphrase would benefit from an assiduous flick through “Brevity And The Repeating Verbal Signature In Entertainment: A Catchphrase Analysis” by Funce and Verbena.

It is still available from The Stukeley Press.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’ll tell Fischer Snr about your recommendation, although in his pensionable years he has actually become much more concise with his catchphrases, and his catch-all response to virtually anything these days is a fruity-voiced ‘bollocks’, often combined with a hearty belch. Not sure whether Messrs Funce and Verbena cover this approach in their respected volume.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

For bollocks, see the appendices.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ain’t modern medicine marvellous?

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Yes. Yes it is. That’s the very reason I became a science writer!

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