Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 71

Sunday 11th March 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and finished Elidor and at 10.30 I got up. Then I made a list of all the new Doctor Who books coming out. After that I played on the videopac and read my Doctor Who mag. Then I had dinner and after that I went outside and played football but it started to rain and I came in and played on the videopac with mam.

Then I played 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81 and after a couple of games Doug rang to see if I could come down. Them me and mam walked Poggy Doggy down to Dougs and when I got there Doug had built the frame for a new den and put a door on.

We finished the frame, put a catch on the door and started a window. At 5.00 I went home and had tea, and at 5.15 I watched it Ain’t half hot mum. At 6.00 I recorded off the top ten, and at 7.15 I watched it’ll be alright on the night 4. 8.30 Wrote my story

A Doctor Who fan making a LIST! Whatever next? I bet I put the television production codes next to each title as well. I can’t remember them all any more, but Logopolis was definitely ‘5V’.  

barratchopper

I still remember the gasp of astonishment I gave when I saw the beginnings of the ‘new den’ (sorry Millwall fans, but we got there first) that Doug had knocked together by himself. Our old den, remember, barely got past the point of a few rotten slabs of wood being haphazardly nailed together at the bottom of my garden. But Doug’s effort was, as far as I could see, no less than a mini Barratt Home.

I think I even glanced to the sky to see if Patrick Allen was swooping over us in a helicopter…

(My Dad, for years afterwards, whenever he heard a helicopter flying around Teesside, would roll his eyes and moan ‘bloody Barratt Homes again’. What a fine testament to the power of 1980s advertising… that, and his tendencey to refer to anyone wearing vaguely light clothing as ‘the man from Del Monte’)

Anyway, Doug’s new den was around six feet square, and at least four feet high, and built with spanking new wood that he’d clearly half-inched from his Dad’s rabbit hutch business and nailed together with alarming efficency while I’d been slopping around for two days grumbling about my runny nose and slurping on Lemsip.

It looked, quite frankly, like the beginnings of our dream home together, and I fully expected that by the end of the month we’d be waving our parents goodbye and moving into the hut to begin our new lives. In the little patch we’d reserved for it round the back of Doug’s dad’s garage.

vampireboy

I actually felt like a very young kid when I saw it, which is understandable considering I was 11-years-old. But Doug was barely a month older than me, and already seemed to be infinitely more grown-up and practical. To put things in perspective, while he’d spent the afternoon constructing a solid, weatherproof garden refuge single-handedly, I’d been playing football by myself, all the while indulging in a strange fantasy that I was a vampire alien schoolboy from the planet Drexel, accompanying Peter Davison’s Doctor on his travels in the TARDIS.

This sounds bizarre, but it was an elaborate story that I’d been following in my head for months now, and while I kicked the football around the mud and flower beds of the garden, I would lose myself in our galactic adventures, constructing whole storylines complete with dialogue and cliffhangers.

The ‘vampire’ element came about because, at this stage in my life, my upper canines (or ‘eye teeth’ as my mother used to call them) stuck out slightly, and I’d discovered that I could easily lodge my lower lip underneath them to give them the distinct impression of fangs.

I absolutely loved this, and was devastated later in the year when my dentist constructed a metal brace to sink my teeth back to a less terrifying position. But all of that excitement is still to come…

radio1

Anyway, good to see some bona fide Radio 1 Top 10 bootlegging going on. Done, in the traditional style, by pushing my portable cassette recorder up against an ancient transistor radio (a chunky black breezeblock with part of the battery cover missing where my parents’ 1960s dog, Penny, had chewed it) and hoping that my Dad wouldn’t walk past and loudly enquire ‘who’s this bunch of snotgobblers, then?’

If I only recorded from 6pm then I must have caught the Top 20, which – on Sunday 11th March 1984 – was revealed as…

1. 99 Red Balloons… Nena (Yay!)
2. Joanna… Kool And The Gang (Boo!)
3. Street Dance… Break Machine (Yay!)
4. Wouldn’t It Be Good… Nik Kershaw (Yay!)
5. Hello… Lionel Richie (Boo!) 
6. Relax… Frankie Goes To Hollywood (Yay!)
7. Jump… Van Halen (Boo!)
8. An Innocent Man… Billy Joel (Yay!)
9. Somebody’s Watching Me… Rockwell (Yay!)
10. The Music Of Torvill And Dean… The Michael Reed Orchestra (Boo!)
11. It’s Raining Men… The Weather Girls (Boo!)
12. Hide And Seek… Howard Jones (Yay!)
13. What Do I Do… Phil Fearon And Galaxy (Boo!)
14. Run Runaway… Slade (Yay!) 
15. Breakin’ Down (Sugar Samba)… Julia And Company (Boo!)
16. I Gave You My Heart… Hot Chocolate (Yay!)
17. To Be Or Not To Be (Hitler Rap)… Mel Brooks (Yay!)
18. Ullo John! Got A New Motor… Alexei Sayle (Yay!) 
19. Doctor Doctor… Thompson Twins (Yay!)
20. Your Love Is King… Sade (Boo!)

We were genuinely fascinated by and passionate about the charts at school, and Monday mornings would often be given over to lengthy musical debate… ‘I can’t believe that went up! What about that… down five places! Future number one that, surely?’ Do kids today still take as much interest? I’d love to think they do.    

‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ had finished three years earlier, so this must have been a repeat, but it was a first screening for ‘It’ll Be Alright On The Night 4’, which – in 1984 – was a bona fide TV event. EVERYONE watched it, and I remember laughing so hard at this show that I was literally gasping for semi-athsmatic breath. Dennis Norden, a clipboard, and clips that have entered the very language of television… what better way to spend a Sunday night?

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4 Comments»

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

I used to love IBAOTN as well. Can you remember one clip that used to turn up all the time that involved some American woman dressed as Robin Hood setting fire to a hula hoop? It was black and white-live tv at its best and I’d love to see it again.

  bobfischer wrote @

It rings a vague bell, but then an American woman dressed as Robin Hood setting fire to a Hula Hoop has been a regular recurring dream of mine for several years now.

I don’t like it… I’ve always been more of a Monster Munch man, as you know.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I very much doubt that Monster Munch would burn. I know that Dr. Daryl Powder and her team at Biddulph have been conducting tests of that nature for some years now.

Incidentally I would love to see a statistical breakdown detailing exactly what percentage of this blog’s readership is thought to consist of Millwall supporters. If you cannot manage a Venn diagram then a simple pie chart would be more than adequate. I long to see the size of the blue slice.

  bobfischer wrote @

Bugger the KLF and their million pounds, if there’s good Monster Munch being needlessly destroyed in the name of science then I demand an injunction. Preferably Flamin’ Hot flavour.

I’ll work on the Millwall pie chart, Dr Parcel. I’ve also started work on a Venn diagram to extrapolate the correlation between the viewpoints ‘No-one likes us’ and ‘We don’t care’.


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