Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 67

Wednesday 7th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school we had assembly, and when we came out I did some maths from yesterday. Did that just about all morning and at 12.00 I had dinner. After dinner I gave Ozzie a piggy back and when we went in me and Frankie finished the Topic.

Then I did some maths and after that I did a poster for Mrs Keasey. Then at 3.15 I went in for Boy’s Games. We played the same team as last week and won 3-2. After that me and Doug walked home with Huggy and played down the cut with the cricket ball.

Then Doug came to my house and we put some wood on the hut. Then I had tea and Doug smashed the wood off because it was too weak. At 6.00 Doug went home and I wrote my story and at 7.40 I watched Day of the Triffids. 9.00 Watched Minder, 10.00 Went to bed.

Yay! Piggy Back Fights!

Let’s get this straight, when I ‘gave Ozzie a piggy back’, I didn’t just pick him up, carry him about for a bit, and put him down again. I picked him up, carried him about for a bit, then ran headlong at a Doug/Frankie piggy back combination and smashed him into them like a curly-haired battering ram.


And then seperate. And repeat. And seperate. And repeat until either a) either Ozzie or Frankie fell off their respective steeds and got a mouthful of gravel and an impressive graze collection on their knees and elbows or b) Mrs Gallon blew her whistle and shouted ‘STOP THAT! NOW! IN ALL MY YEARS AS A DINNER NANNY I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING SO RECKLESSLY STUPID!!!’

(Which is hard to believe, after all she saw Christopher Herbert every day)

I suppose you could call it the 1984 equivalent of medieval jousting except we didn’t have lances, so we had to use compasses instead. Just to spice things up a bit, y’know.


(Incidentally, was the only one who – whenever I read about a ‘ship’s compass’ – assumed that all maritime vessels kept one of the above devices to hand, just in case the captain decided that, in the torrid high seas, what he really needed to keep his crew’s spirits up was to draw a few perfect circles? No? No….?)

I’m actually pretty sure Piggy Back Fights were soon included on a list of ‘Banned Games’ pinned on the notice board next to the school team football results, which usually showed that Levendale had been hammered by the amusingly-named Butts Lane. British Bulldogs was on there, as was Red Rover and possibly Stuck In The Mud as well. In fact, pretty much everything with the exception of  Ring-A-Ring-A-Roses (and even then, the ‘all fall down’ bit was closely monitored).

Truly, the Health and Safety generation was spawned right there and right then. Although obviously any potential future spawning first requires Risk Assessment Form 13476/B to be completed and submitted to your team leader.


Good to see a mention for Huggy… this was Paul Huggins, a strapping, sporty lad who I’ve got a nagging feeling might have arrived at Levendale from New Zealand – but now I’ve written that I’m not sure if I’ve imagined it purely because he played a bit of rugby (for the same reason, I thought Gaz ‘Gazzie’ Jones was Welsh for at least six months of 1982). Anyway, he was a great laugh, and Doug and I became increasibly good mates with him over the course of the year.

‘The cut’, I think, was a little weed-strewn alleyway five minutes away from the school. It was steeper than the final stretch to the summit of K2, and connected the well-to-do Yarm residental areas of Valley Drive and Clockwood Gardens.  I’ll do a little film there soon, if I can negotiate my way past the panting Sherpas having a breather and a cigarette halfway up.


This night, as you can probably see, marked the pitiful, wasteful death of our coffin-shaped ‘hut’ (RIP). It was quite clearly a shambles, and Doug understandably lost his rag and took the bloody thing to bits. Greater things were to come, though…

And what a cracking night’s TV! ‘Day Of The Triffids’ was the classic, none-more-bleak BBC1 adaptation from 1981, with a heavily bearded John Duttine attempting to rebuild post-apocalyptic society amidst the blind, the dead and the, erm, killer six-foot plant. This was Episode One, and – thanks to the wonders of DVD – I can report that it’s every bit as disturbing as I remember.

In fact, are these the scariest opening titles of all time?

It also made the prospect of being slapped across the face by a gurning Simon Brody shouting ‘Woooo Triffids’ as he ran into the Boy’s Bogs a very real one.

And tonight’s episode of Minder was a Doctor Who fan’s delight, featuring – as it did – impressive guest roles for Patrick ‘The Second Doctor’ Troughton and Janet ‘Tegan’ Fielding. I can’t remember the full details of the plot, but I’m pretty sure it involved Troughton running (gasp!) a greenhouse-based cannabis farm, and Fielding being (gasp!) a slightly stroppy Australian. And indulging in a bit of wacky baccy herself, which wasn’t something I expected of a bona fide TARDIS traveller. Although, with the benefit of hindsight, I think it’s right to be a little bit suspicious about Turlough’s permanently glazed expression.




  Chris Orton wrote @

Ah, Bob, Bob, Bob. You’ve clearly fallen into the common trap of calling those circle-drawing mathematical apparatus a “compass”. It is in fact, “a pair of compasses” (although, like pants and trousers it is clearly only one object). A compass is used by an explorer for finding North.

British Bulldog was banned at our school too. As was cricket due the the high amount of windows present. At my secondary school, snowball fights were even banned for a similar reason.

  bobfischer wrote @

I stand corrected! Well, actually, I’m sitting down but you get the picture.

I think my secondary school had a similar snowball fight ban for a while as well, usually when some poor sap had to be taken to hospital to have a block of ice removed from his frontal lobe.

I presume all playground games are banned these days at all schools? They probably play British Bulldogs on a Wii.

  fiona tims wrote @

British Bulldog was banned for us too!

Well 7 March is my bday-I would love to know what I had done for it all those years ago. Prob had some friends round for jelly and ice cream I imagine!!

  bobfischer wrote @


Get drunk and invite everyone in the street round for a celebratory game of British Bulldog!

  Richard wrote @

A bit late for the party, but I’d like to point out that shortly after I learned about the “Pair of compasses” thing I learned what it was to earn the scornful derision of all of my classmates.

  bobfischer wrote @

I like the idea of this being a party. I’m in the corner with a half-eaten Wham bar, refusing to let anyone put anything other than ‘Rat Rappin’ on the turntable. Scratch!

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