Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 44

Monday 13th February 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school we went into assembly and when we came out I went into Maths group. Then I finished a maths sheet, and went in for PE and played indoor football. As 12.00 I had dinner and after dinner it was reading time.

After that I went out for football and it was one big match. We lost 5-4. When we came in me and Ozzie showed Mrs Keasey the Guardian of Goblin Grotto and she said show Mr Chalkley, so we went over but he wasn’t around. 3.15 Came home and at 3.40 I went down to Doug’s but he wasn’t in so I hung around his garage till 4.00 and he came back.

We took the top off K9 then went to my house and mucked on. At 5.00 Doug went home and I had tea, then after tea I played on the videopac. Played on that till 8.45, Then played chess with dad and at 9.30 I went to bed.

I don’t do a lot at school, do I? Indoor football in the morning, outdoor football in the afternoon, and inbetween the delightfully vague  ‘reading time’ which would more accurately be described as ‘sitting with an open book on my lap while yabbering endlessly to Doug and Ozzie about Daleks time’. No wonder I’m an adult underachiever.

Although, to be fair, Ozzie and I had now finished our Fighting Fantasy adventure ‘The Guardian Of Goblin Grotto’ and were throwing ourselves into the promotional rounds, clearly angling for my second assembly performance of 1984. I’ve no idea where our amazingly hairy headmaster Mr Chalkley had got to, especially as – so far as I can tell – there was no full moon on Monday 13th February 1984. He must have been away combing his hands somewhere.


I love the fact that I ‘hung around’ Doug’s garage awaiting his return. I wonder how long I’d have been prepared to wait if he hadn’t come back? I’d probably still have been there at midnight, pining and whimpering like Greyfriars Bobby. Doug’s dad’s garage was, of course, the subject of some fascination for us, because pinned on the back wall, underneath a dirty overall hanging on a rusty nail, was…  


…’A Nuddy Calendar’.

It’s mentioned in the very first chapter of ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’ and yes… we’d discovered it during one of our nighttime K9-building sessions, and almost fainted with fright. It had clearly been there for a few years, and had faded somewhat, which was probably a blessing. But I think this was the first time I’d ever seen a full-frontal picture of a completely naked woman.

Well… I say ‘completely naked’, all of the delightful young ladies involved were clad in the regulation 1980s stockings and suspender belt combination that ‘Allo Allo’ and Benny Hill led us to believe that ALL women wore ALL the time. I remember being fascinated by the enormous, back-combed, bouffanted hairstyles as well.     

Insert your own joke here. I’m not doing it for you.

(I’m sorry)


These days, our moral guardians fret about the easy access to pornography that the internet affords to modern-day children, but it was largely the same in 1984 as well. You just had to know which hedgerows to look under. Once Doug pointed it out to me, it became apparent that the litter-strewn hedges and copses of Yarm and its neighbouring village Kirklevington frequently gave a home to, well… the torn-up remnants of discarded Razzle and Penthouse magazines.

I’ve still no idea who went around Yarm buying up top-shelf magazines, tearing them into bits and throwing them into ditches and hedges, but I’d like to find out. It was probably the same person that used to unwind TDK D90 audio cassettes and string the resulting yards of shimmering, light brown tape around tree branches. I always thought this was quite a beautiful sight, although once – in early 1983 – I succumbed to curiosity and persuaded my Uncle Trevor to help me rescue a tree-based tape spillage near my Gran’s bungalow in Acklam. We collected all the salvageable tape, bought a replacement cassette body from the Boots audio section in Middlesbrough, and put it back together. The results weren’t half bad, and contained the following songs…

‘Oh Boy’ by Mud
‘There’s A Whole Lot Of Loving’ by Guys & Dolls
‘Love Me Love My Dog’ by Pete Shelley
‘The Way We Were’ by Barbara Streisand
‘Giving It All Away’ by Roger Daltrey
‘Mr Soft’ by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ by John Holt
‘Get Dancing’ by Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes

I loved ‘Mr Soft’ with an almost indecent passion, and it remained my own private, secret treasure until the following advert popped up on Tyne Tees about a year later…

The tape also contained a brilliant reggae song called (possibly) ‘Hurts So Fine’, but I can never remember the singer’s name. Anyone?

I was still playing this tape in 1984, through the tinny portable tape recorder occasionally pressed into service to load ‘3D Monster Maze’ into the ZX81, and I loved it to bits. Although all of these songs date from around ten years earlier, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how long they’d been buffeted around the branches of a lilac tree in Acklam.

It’s a shame it’s virtually impossible to discover strange, lost songs in this way these days, but I don’t suppose it’s easy to drape an MP3 around an old lady’s laburnum bush.




  Drew Smith wrote @

Anyone just casually browsing this blog could get absolutely the wrong impression from that American Werewolf photo!

  bobfischer wrote @

What American Werewolf photo? That picture was taken in the Levendale Primary School staff room in January 1984.

So are we building up a national database of hedgerow-based porn here? Was this a countrywide phenomenon, and if so who was responsible? Given this startling revelation, I think that even at this early stage the finger of suspicion has to point at long-distance lorry drivers.

  Drew Smith wrote @

P.S. The first porn I ever saw was salvaged from a hedgerow too.

  Drew Smith wrote @

Funny you should say that as right next door to my house is…a lorry deppo.

  bobfischer wrote @

It’s not all Yorkie bars and squashing hedgehogs.

  PJEUK wrote @

National Hedgerow Porn Database.

The “roughie” field next to Northfield School in Billingham must have Teesside’s open air equivalent to the Hustler Store on Sunset Strip, Los Angeles.

For a young 13 y/o seekign a quick fix there was always a plethora of pictures to gawp. But for the more bookish kids it also had a good selection of written prose usually featuring 1st person experiences with Spanish hotel maids or lady driving instructors for those quiet more reflective moments.

  bobfischer wrote @

‘after dinner it was reading time’ 😉

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Wow-that advert is a blast from the past!

We always found ripped up porn mags too-but we weren’t near hedgerows, just by the garages. A bizarre phenomenon! Why throw them away?….why rip them up? Someone needs to investigate this 80’s occurrence.

  bobfischer wrote @

I always wanted to give the Mr Soft advert cat a big cuddle. I was such a soppy kid sometimes.

The National Hedgerow Porn Database is an initiative that Gordon Brown needs to be investigating as a matter of urgency. Given what we’re finding here, was there anyone who bought porn mags who DIDN’T ultimately rip them up and throw them around in the open air?

I’d like to think somewhere there’s a really precious, completist collector who has all his 1980s Razzles filed neatly away in chronological order.

Oddly enough, the first time I stayed at my in-laws house in Cornwall, I noticed that on a shelf in the spare room was a long row of binders, all labelled ‘JAZZ MAGS’. I was a bit disappointed to open them and discover a 60-part Marshall Cavendish series about Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Would it be worth my while to suggest that the singer whose name you can never remember is Susan Cadogan and that the song in question is “Hurt So Good”?

You will doubtless be astonished to learn that this suggestion really comes from my esteemed collaborator Professor Stephanie Reggae.

  bobfischer wrote @

It is worth your while, because you’re dead right! Please pass on my heartfelt thanks to Professor Reggae. And, erm, ting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: