Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 56

Saturday 25th February 1984

Woke up at 8.10 but went back to sleep and Woke up again at 9.15. At 10.15 I got up and at 10.30 Doug rang and I went down to his house at 10.35. At Doug’s we touched K9 up then went back to my house and played on the ZX81.

Then we went on Conyers field and played football, and when we came back we cut out some cardboard antennae for K9, then we went back to Doug’s and stuck them together. When we came back to my house we had a hamburger then we wrote a letter to Doctor Who monthly.

After that we went to Doug’s and put the antennae on K9, then we took Doug’s bike over the estate near Doug’s house, onto the kebble estate then we got lost on the Mcleans estate and came out about a mile off course.

Then we went on Conyers and did skids and at 5.00 Doug went home. 5.30 had tea and after tea I started a Doctor Who program on the ZX. At 8.15 I watched Les Dawson and at 9.45 I went to bed.

Another blissful half-time day spent arsing around and making nuisances of ourselves!

fruitpolos

I miss being small, and my tiny home town providing ample opportunities for adventure. I loved the fact that Doug and I could get hopelessly lost in the housing estates a mile from our own houses, and we did… regularly. It felt fabulous being out on our bikes by ourselves, and not really knowing where we were.  Would we have to camp down for the night in Knaith Close, and live on the half-packet of Fruit Polos that Doug had in his parka pocket? We actually really, really wanted to… (Although, if pushed, I’d have expressed a preference for Chewitts)

The cold weather gave things an extra frisson, too. If my memories of the 1970s are all orange and brown, then by the early 1980s the world was pale. Empty white skies, stonewashed jeans, shiny metallic music and the beige, unsullied newness of the freshly-constructed estates around Yarm. They’re part of the fabric of the town now, but in 1984 these houses were fresh additions to an old, close-knit farming community. ‘Mcleans’ and ‘Kebble’ weren’t local names, they were the names of the construction companies building new homes for young Eighties families in pastel-shaded jumpers and Mark 2 Ford Fiestas.

fordfiesta

All of this and ‘skids’ too! Or, to give the practice its proper title, ‘pulling skids’. Using the tarmac path running around the perimeter of Conyers School as our Raleigh Chopper Formula 1 track, we’d pelt hell for leather on our bikes to an agreed point, then slam on the brakes and yank the handlebars round into a terrifying curve. The resulting skids frequently propelled us into a giggling heap of legs, hair and Parka on the freezing tarmac, and yet the only hint of permanent damage was the occasional crack of an unlucky Fruit Polo.

I did, however, spend pretty much the entire first thirteen years of my life in trousers with tattered knees, the ragged flaps of St Michael polyester hanging loose to reveal… well, my own tattered knees behind them.

Good to see K9 edging closer to completeness! So, in the first two months of the year, I’d constructed two robots and written a full-length Fighting Fantasy book. Incredibly prolific stuff, and what ambitions did it leave me to fulfill? Oh blimey… writing a letter to Doctor Who Monthly…

willchandler

We did, too. I remember it well. We sat in my bedroom, Doug shouting suggestions from atop my pale yellow bedspread (amazingly, duvets didn’t reach the Fischer household until 1985) and me frantically hammering on the green Hermes 3000 typewriter that bore the brunt of all my early 80s literary efforts. The letter expressed a few concerns about the plot details of ‘Frontios’ (‘Howcome the TARDIS materialised underground by itself after being clearly destroyed in Episode 1? Did we miss something?’ Erm… yes) and suggested that Will Chandler, the grubby 17th century urchin from ‘The Awakening’ should have stayed aboard the TARDIS as a cracking new companion. Which I still don’t think would have been a bad idea…

Nice to see mention of a ‘hamburger’ as well. Bear in mind these were the salad days (ho ho) before the first McDonalds appeared on Teesside, so what we’ll have actually eaten will have been a gritty, dark-brown Findus frisbee chucked into my Mum’s greasy frying pan and then shoved between two slices of white Mother’s Pride bread. I’m lovin’ it…

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