Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 69

Friday 9th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and had cold so I stayed in bed. Got up at 9.00 and watched TVAM and at 9.30 I played on the videopac. Then I wrote a program on the ZX81 called To catch a thief but it crashed, so I went upstairs and started to sort my tapes out.

At 12.30 I had my dinner, then I finished my tapes. When I came down I wrote a ZX81 program called ‘Space Fall’ and taped it. At 2.30 I watched the end of the film ‘Where the bullets fly’. At 3.30 I played on the videopac and at 5.15 I watched Diff’rent Strokes.

5.45 Had tea, and after that I played on the videopac again. At 6.40 I watched Doctor Who and after that, at 7.05 I put some Weetabix stickers on my door. Then I came down and wrote my diary

An alarmingly abrupt ending! I must have sneezed in mid-sentence and then lost the strength to finish my entry. So to speak.  

Anyway, awwwwww! I genuinely was ill on this day, and woke up with that horrible ‘cork up each nostril’ feeling. So it was best, obviously, to ‘stay in the warm’ and treat my symptoms by faffing around endlessly on the ZX81 and Videopac all day.

Sooo… a nice bit of TVAM to begin with, probably looking a bit like this…

…and what better way to treat a few sniffles than with a lion-haired John Stapleton bringing about the dawn of World War III?

And when I say that I ‘started to sort my tapes out’ I’m not boasting about an impressive music collection (although I had started to record bits and bobs off the radio by this point). Rather, the huge collection of TDK and Boots own brand D90s that were rattling around my bedroom in a Presto freezer bag were a combination of…

a) ZX81 programmes that I’d typed in from the pages of Sinclair Programs and then saved onto tape, a process taking anything up to six hours for every 5k of memory used.


b) Bizarre ramblings that I’d recorded myself using the grey, portable slab-like cassette recorder I’d got for my birthday in 1982, now retrieved from the interior of Doug and mine’s home-built robot ROB-E.

Yes… like all future local radio presenters, I made my own shows in my bedroom. My squeaky voice would read out the usual selection of terrible gags from the pages of Whizzer And Chips, introduce TV theme tunes recorded by resting the tape recorder on the telephone table and shoving it up against the telly’s tinny speaker (the one I definitely remember doing was, bizarrely, Maggie Philbin’s popular science programme ‘The Show Me Show’) and generally ramble on.

One programme that I think I’ve still got consists of myself and Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank crawling around the dining room floor making a David Attenborough-style nature programme by whispering into the little condenser microphone, intrepidly tracking the movements of the ‘lesser-spotted Poggius Doggius’.

‘And when the Poggius Doggius boffs,’ whispered Frankie, sincerely, ‘they stink really bad’.

It still makes me laugh today.

No recollection of all of the two ZX81 programmes I wrote through my coughs and splutterings, but I do remember ‘Where The Bullets Fly’. It’s a very low-budget British spy spoof from 1966, with a dream cast including Sidney James, Wilfrid Brambell and Tom Adams. It’s never had a VHS or DVD release as far as I can see, but there’s a lovely big chunk of it here…

Check out the brilliant Bond-spoof theme tune, sung by the lovely Susan ‘Bobby’s Girl’ Maughan, the 60s pop starlet who was still popping up on TV well into the mid-1980s. Genius!  

Doctor Who was, of course, The Caves Of Androzani Part Two, and I was still in a state of fevered excitement knowing that the Doctor’s regeneration was ONE WEEK AWAY! I’ll have been so excited I’ll barely have been able to concentrate on Diff’rent Strokes, now looking a bit like this…

And wow, those Weetabix stickers! I’d forgotten all about those, but they stayed on my bedroom door for years. They were all geared around Weetabix’s TV adverts, cracking little cartoons that portrayed everyone’s favourite breakfast cereals as Madness-style cuddly skinheads…

IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU!!! If this advert popped up on TV when my Dad was in the room, he would repeat the squeaky ‘Okaaay’ bit at the end repeatedly for hours afterwards. Amazingly, after 43 years, him and my mother are still together.



  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Your prescience is often astonishing, young Fischer. Your early wildlife commentaries are almost exactly in tune with the way that television executives prefer things done in the 21st Century. Now if you could only break down in tears at least once on your ‘journey’ and maybe see your way to attaching some bloodsucking parasites to your more tender areas, the media world is virtually your personal oyster. You could be Controller, BBC2 before you are fifty.

Incidentally my father, Parcel the Elder, once went to the opening of what was then known as a night club (called ‘Castaways’) at which Susan Maughan was the star attraction. She carried a small dog (possibly a poodle) the whole time and went into a bit of a strop when the punters would not stop talking among themselves during her turn. Understandable, really, but then it wasn’t the wisest move to sit everybody down with chicken in a basket just as she made her entrance from behind the glittery curtain, was it?

  bobfischer wrote @

I’m happy to cry, fart and put leeches on my goolies for anybody willing to pay. Who do I send my invoice to? Will UK Living do for starters?

And thankyou for a typically touching tale of Susan Maughan’s entrance.

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

Pleeeeeeease will you upload that tape some day?

  bobfischer wrote @

Possibly, it’ll take some serious loft rummaging first, though! Probably worth it for The Show Me Show theme, though…

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