Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 51

Monday 20th February 1984

Woke up at 9.15 but went to sleep, and woke up again at 10.25. At 10.30 I got up and Doug rang, then I got some K9 mags and went down to Doug’s. We put the panel on K9’s side, then I made some lettering and Doug cut it out, then when we had stuck it onto K9 We came back to my house and had dinner.

After dinner we went back to Doug’s and finished the panel. Then I came back for a hand drill but it was in the car, so I went back to Doug’s. We made some antennae out of wire, Then put them on the head and finished the panels. Then made a screen.

At 3.45 I came home and had tea, then I looked at the Blackpool brochure. After that I wrote some of the Jewel and I played on the videopac when I got sick of writing. 9.30 Went in the bath and went to bed.

What better way to spend our half term holiday than polishing off our home-made full-size wooden replica of K9? Except he didn’t need polishing, he just needed a lick of paint. Yes, at this stage our K9 was still made of bare, unadorned wood – every panel being a different shade and texture because he was constructed entirely from left-over bits of timber from Doug’s Dad’s rabbit-hutch building business.

Still, let’s have a look at what we were working towards…


So, the ‘lettering’ was the ‘K-9’ on his side, which I drew with a blunt pencil onto a tatty square of Balsa wood before handing it over to Doug to ‘cut it out’, giving him sole responsibility for the Stanley knife beacause otherwise I was likely to remove a) one of my fingers b) one of Doug’s fingers, or c) most importantly, a crucial part of K9’s lettering.

The antenna are on the top of his head, and we made them out of wire mesh half-inched from a semi-completed rabbit hutch, and a chunk of cardboard cut from an old Tudor Crisps box at the back of the garage. Obviously back in 1977, the original Doctor Who producers would have given their right arms to be blessed with this kind of budget.

The ‘screen’ that we made is on the other side of K9… it’s just an extra piece of square panelling that resembles a portable Grundig TV screen stuck on the poor dog’s flank, presumably so that the Doctor – while out and about battling Daleks in the dusty wastelands of Skaro – never needs to miss Pebble Mill At One or Crown Court.

I love the fact that, in the midst of a full day working in Doug’s garage, we ‘came back to my house and had dinner’. I’m assuming from this that Doug’s parents were out of the house, and so to avoid the unimaginable horrors of (gasp!) ACTUALLY PREPARING FOOD FOR OURSELVES, we walked half a mile back to my house and whined at my poor mother until she relented and made us one of three potential dinners…


Dinner No 1: Beans-on-toast (two slices of blindingly white Mother’s Pride bread, toasted under an industrial-sized grill, covered in lashings of Stork SB and coated in half a tin of luridly orange Heinz Beans)

Dinner No 2: Cheese-on-toast (two slices of blindingly white Mother’s Pride bread, toasted under an industrial-sized grill then covered in thick lunks of luridly orange cheddar cheese from Fine Fare, and re-grilled to the temperature of volcanic magmata before being sliced in half, to serve)

Dinner No 3: Bacon sandwich (two slices two slices of blindingly white Mother’s Pride bread covered in lashings of Stork SB and filled with four rashers of streaky bacon from Newbould’s the Butcher before being quartered and coated in luridly red Heinz tomato ketchup). 

Any of these options would then be followed by two of what my parents still refer to as ‘pikelets’, however what they’re actually talking about are these…


Crumpets. CRUMPETS. Staple of 457 Carry On jokes (source: Gov’t ‘Crumpet Misuse in British Comedy’ White Paper 1979) and a delicious comestible that – thanks to Fischer family tradition – I utterly misnamed until the age of 27. Pikelets do exist of course, but they look like this…


I’ve never eaten one of these in my life. Case dismissed, M’Lud. (Cue ‘Distant Hills’ theme closing theme, and the interminable wait until Children’s ITV starterd…)

You’ll note that in 1984 I was still using traditional Northern mealtime references. ‘Dinner’ was a modest meal taken between 12-1pm, and is what the rest of the civilised Western world refers to as ‘lunch’. And  ‘Tea’ was the main meal of the day, the traditional ‘meat and two veg’ taken between 5-6pm, and this is what the rest of the civilised Western world refers to as ‘dinner”.

At some point in my life, despite never having lived outside Teesside for any length of time, I revised my policies and fell meekly in line with the 1986 United Nations Agreement On Proper Names For Mealtimes, Like. I’m not sure when this happened, but I can offer two potential explanations…

a) I am a ruthless social climber who thinks nothing of adopting middle-class affectations in order to further his career prospects.  

b) My live-in girlfriend is from the South-West, and I just fall in with what she says for the sake of a quiet life.

It’s one or the other. You be the judge (Sorcha, you’re forbidden from commenting on this)  

Just in case you were worried about the continuing safety of our fingers, the ‘hand drill’ we were hunting for wasn’t one of these…


It was one of these…


And blimey, another bath only eight days after my previous soaking! My Dad must have been working some serious overtime to permit such wanton abuse of the immersion heater.


  Chris Orton wrote @

Bob, I’m staggered that a fellow northerner has fallen into the trap of naming “dinner” and “tea” as “lunch” and “dinner”, although understand the reason as to how policy “b)” was decided upon! If you are quizzed on the subject again, point out that you didn’t have “Lunch Ladies” force-feeding you boiled cabbage when you were at school!

Actually, I don’t think that the dinner/tea meal-naming convention is particularly a northern foible. As you suggest, I suspect that it is more class-based.

  bobfischer wrote @

We definitely didn’t have ‘Lunch Ladies’, but then again neither did I take a ‘Packed Dinner’ to school.

I can’t stand the confusion in my mind! 😉

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

“(source: Gov’t ‘Crumpet Misuse in British Comedy’ White Paper 1979)”
You will not be astonished to learn that the young Dr. Parcel was involved in research for that white paper at Nuneaton.
My researches proved to me that regional variations in vocabulary in the UK are nowhere more evident or more numerous than under the baker’s awning.
As in the Fischer household, crumpets and pikelets are entirely thrown into reverse in what we must call Scotland. This is probably the most widespread variation. Often, names for dough-related produce will vary quite drastically from town to town, never mind from region to region.
Rolls, barmcakes, butteries, muffins, farls, bulkies, cobs and cakes: use the wrong term in the wrong town and you risk being pointed at, mocked and even chased along a short concourse of shops to have your slacks tugged down as a prelude to a Vanilla Slice Assault from two brawny ladies in porous hats. My researches tell me.
This is far more pressing and exciting a matter than what to call mealtimes and we date people who work in bakeries at our peril.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ah, really? See, this is why we need a scientist at large on this blog. So it’s possibly my parents were being entirely correct with their terminology, just 60 miles too far South? I won’t tell them, it’ll only go to their heads.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I have this argument quite often with my Northern Friend. He insists it’s Dinner and Tea and I say otherwise (just to wind him up, you understand). I switch between the Northern and Southern variations quite often, most notably using Lunch and Tea.

  bobfischer wrote @

Dare I open the debate about ‘supper’? 😉

  miaowlicious wrote @

Well of course posh people say supper for dinner. I say supper for the snack before bed!
And naturally I’m right ;p

  bobfischer wrote @

Course you are! Solidarity, sister.

I’m going to write about suppertime cereal eaters one day soon. My supper has always consisted of a bowl of breakfast cereal, and it was only when I moved into a shared house in my Uni days that I discovered some people found this a bit strange…

  miaowlicious wrote @

OMG! I have breakfast cereal for supper. My Northern friend (I do have other friends besides him haha) thinks I’m weird and I never understood it. I thought everyone ate cereal before bed??!!

  Chris Orton wrote @

Supper is just a slice of toast, bowls of cornflakes or similar that you have before you got to bed.

  bobfischer wrote @

Night-time cereal eaters of the world unite!!!

When I went to Uni, my housemates were fascinated by the fact that I often ate a bowl of Cornflakes or Weetabix before bed, and thought it was one of the strangest things they’d ever seen. I’d always done it though, and never given it a second thought!

We should form a support group.

  miaowlicious wrote @

A support group-or a facebook group at the very least ;p

  bobfischer wrote @

You don’t what you’ve started. We’ll be marching on Downing Street by the end of the year. At midnight. With our spoons.

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