Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 50

Sunday 19th February 1984

Woke up at 8.45 and got up at 10.00. After a go on the videopac I rang Doug and he asked if I wanted to go swimming. I could, and then I went outside and played on the Tarzie until 10.30 When Doug came and we played on the videopac. At 11.05 We went swimming, then we went to Doug’s grans and took the dog for a walk.

At about 3.30 we came back to my house and played on the videopac for a bit, then we went outside and played football in the front garden. After that we played football on the school field, and at 5.30 Doug went home and I had tea.

After tea I washed my hair and at 7.15 I watched One by One. At 8.35 I watched Ever Decreasing Circles, then at 9.20 I watched That’s life. 10.15 Watched The Skating and at about 11.00 I went to bed.

So much exercise! I think I’ve used up my quota for the whole of 2009 (one swim, two hours of half-arsed football) in the space of one chilly Sunday afternoon here. No wonder I was such a skinny kid, despite the ceaseless intake of Spam Fritters and Butterscotch Angel Delight. 

I’m sure this was a day on which our plans for pop chart domination stepped up a gear, because I remember discussing the prospect with Doug as we walked his gran’s enthusiastic brown terrier around the streets of Thornaby in the drizzle. I imagine Beyonce and The Killers began their illustrious careers under similar circumstances (although I see Beyonce as more of a whippet girl)


And The Killers, as everybody knows, are from Fairfield rather than Thornaby.

So… the plan was for myself, Doug and Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald to become the hit punk-pop chart trio ‘Titchie Ritchie and the Weirdos’. We had two songs in the pipeline, both composed (I’m pretty sure) during this dog walk. These were…


Inspired by the coolest, hippest fly gangstas of the day (New Edition, Adam Ant, Roland Rat) this was, indeed, a bona fide rap about the band itself, in an authentic self-aggrandising styleee. The only lines that I can remember being…

‘You all know me, my name’s Ritchie
For no real reason, they call me Titchie
This is the Weirdo Rap
This is the Weirdo Rap
This is the Weirdo Rap
This is the Weirdo Rap’

All rapped in squeaky voices to music that sounded a bit like this… (without Metal Mickey on it, naturally. Although we might have given Esther a bit part providing she could get Doc Cox’s autograph for us…)

I think it’s worth pointing out that, at this stage, we hadn’t actually decided which of the three of us was going to take centre stage and ‘become’ Titchie Ritchie. It was an argument that would, eventually, tear the band apart – but for now, it was all about the music. Man.

It’s entirely possible that the only reason I can’t remember any more of this song is that… well, there IS no more. After such a gargantuan creative effort, we’ll no doubt have got bored and moved onto…


(Which goes vaguely to the tune of Eddie Cochran’s ‘C’mon Everybody’ – I think we took the philosophy that the copyright laws couldn’t possibly apply to anybody under the age of twelve…) 

I go into the house and I bang my head on the door
I go into my room and I bang my head on the floor
My father banged his head until he gave a shout
He shouted to my mother ‘I’ve worn it out’
Ooooooooh, headbanging.

Right… I have to confess that this wasn’t the original idea for this song. The original lyric – as composed by myself and Doug – referred not to the head, but to an entirely different fixture on the male anatomy. I blame the parents, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and ‘Alas Smith and Jones’. In that order.

Although an official release was extremely unlikely, given that we were unable to perform more than the opening two lines without collapsing into snotty, tear-stained hysterical laughter.

I’m the same these days when I attempt to sing anything by The Killers or Beyonce.

pigpenI’m intrigued by my personal hygeine in these diaries, as well. How filthy exactly WERE people in 1984? Or was it just me? Going by my diary alone, in the first 50 days of the year, these were the only ablutions I ever bothered myself with…

2nd January – bath
9th January – bath and hair washed
12 January – washed mud off legs (no bath, though)
19th January – bath
1st February – bath
4th February – bath (in preparation for Kerry’s birthday disco)
5th February – bath (on a bit of a roll here)
12th February – bath (that’s more like it)
19th February – hair washed

Did I really only average one bath a week, and my hair washed once a month? And, if so, how bad must Christopher Herbert’s hygeine record have been for him to be THAT MUCH MORE smelly than me?!?! 
Or was it just that nobody ever told me the obvious and painful truth…? (weeps into a Vosene shampoo bottle)


  Madam Stan – Ant Lib Online wrote @

In 1984 my family was only allowed one bath a week – despite VE day happening nearly 30 years prior, it was almost as if we were living in wartime Britain still.
Worst memory was having to be laid out on the ironing board to have my hair washed in the kitchen sink – every Saturday morning half way thru Tiswas! *Shiver…*

  Madam Stan – Ant Lib Online wrote @

30 years? 40 years even! I blame the limited braincells on the enforced lack of cleanliness…

  bobfischer wrote @

Crikey, so the ironing board was set up so you could lay flat across it with your head resting in the kitchen sink? It’s like some strange, demonic ritual! Did you ever spot a pentagram drawn in Dairylea on the front of the fridge freezer?

I’m ashamed to report that I was subjected to the occasional kitchen sink bath in the late 1970s, usually round at my gran’s house. I have no idea what was wrong with… well, the bath, but one of my earliest memories is standing in the kitchen sink, aged about 3, being washed down by my mother.

And yes, you’re right… Britain’s post-war austerity years clearly lasted until about 1987.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I have pics of me being bathed in my nan’s kitchen sink, but I was a baby! I don’t think I was still having sink baths at aged 3-but who knows!

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