Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary…Volume 75

Thursday 15th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00 (Doctor Who was on Breakfast Time). First at school we had to sketch an object that we had brought (I had brought My Dwarf in a bottle) Then we went in to practice for a play in assembly about Jonah. Me and Frankie were muggers (!) and Doug was Jonah.

Then we went into the hall and practiced. At 12.00 I had dinner and after dinner we went in the hall for another practice. When we came out I did some Maths and my RE and then we went in the hall at 2.45 and did the play in assembly. Came home at 3.15 and played on the ZX81.

Then I went outside and played Football and at 4.30 I had tea. At 4.45 I watched The Book Tower. At 5.15 I watched Happy Days. Then I went out again and at 6.40 I came in and watched Doctor Who. Then I played on the ZX81 and at 8.30 I had supper.

Doctor Who on Breakfast Time! It’s a wonder I made it out to my allocated road sign in time to meet the school bus. I think this was a feature based around the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with composer Malcolm Clarke telling Frank Bough and Sally Magnusson about his fiddly synthy work on Resurrection Of The Daleks. Complete with CLIPS! It had CLIPS! We didn’t have a video in 1984, and Doctor Who was rarely repeated, so the opportunity to see even a few seconds of a CLIP from a previous show was easily worth missing a bowl of Sugar Puffs for.

Anyway, it’s on the Resurrection Of The Daleks DVD, if anyone fancies reliving it…

My ‘Dwarf in a bottle’ was a weird thing, it had been bought as a present for me by some far-flung relative returning from some cheap and cheesy holiday somewhere (details are sketchy, just like my… erm, sketch) and it was Exactly How It Sounds. A wobbly-headed toy dwarf with a wispy cotton wool beard stuck in a glass bottle and kept on my bedroom windowsill.

I used to convince myself it was a butch and credible thing to have, a ‘dwarf’ in the classic Fighting Fantasy dragon-knacking sense. In actual fact it looked more like one of Ken Dodd’s Diddymen. 


Good to see the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale being updated to include the uber-eighties criminal types that were ‘muggers’! Does anyone ever use the word ‘muggers’ any more? In the mid-1980s, ‘muggers’ were everywhere. They were universally acknowledged to be glue-sniffing skinheads in braces and ‘bovver boots’ who ‘mugged’ defenceless grannies in broad daylight and spent the resulting spoils on Harp Lager and Bostik. Just like Passmore in Tucker’s Luck.


Some modern interprations of the Jonah story suggest that the ‘whale’ is merely an allegorical literary reference to the trials of the devout, however Mrs Keasey was having no truck with his, and so our ‘whale’ consisted of two gigantic blue gym mats (see yesterday’s entry!) being operated by a visibly wilting Mark Pitfield in a ‘chomp chomp’ motion while poor Frankie pretended to be swallowed up.

Not sure where the ‘muggers’ came in (we probably just half-inched Jonah’s pension book and ran around to see if the VG Shop had any Bostik) but you’ll notice Paul Frank being visibly groomed for the title part in Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with another lead performance here. Stardom (and the chance to sing ‘Any Dream Will Do’ while wearing a Debenham’s duvet cover) clearly beckoned.

He still had a long way to go, though. This was mine and Doug’s third school assembly appearance in eight weeks, leading to strogn Evening Gazette grumblings about our overexposure and the nature of  modern celebrity. Verily, we were the Horne and Corden of our era (we actually did a few jokes, though).

Another solo kickabout in the garden as well, so no doubt my long-standing fantasy about being a Vampire boy from the planet Drexal will have been cranked up a few notches while I worked on my keepy-ups (current personal best: 4). And then DOCTOR WHO! THE REAL THING!


Part Three of The Caves Of Androzani, and the best cliffhanger EVER as the Doctor plummets towards the surface of the titular planet at the controls of a crippled, crash-bound spaceship. I only discovered very recently that Davison actually begins to regenerate in this sequence, but staves it off so he can save Peri from certain death. It’s all honestly in there – you see the start of the regeneration sequence begin, with the tunnel of wavy lines, then he shakes his head and makes an effort of will to stop it. I had no idea about this until the DVD came out, but it’s true – have a look if it’s in your collection!


1 Comment»

  The Reverend Marcus Carcass wrote @

It is my supposition that the muggers in question were a metaphor, used to convey the sheer misery of being sent to that exceeding great city of Nineveh to the children of (alleged) Cleveland in a way that they could understand. This type of thing is often tried with religious education but only rarely with maths.

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