Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 77

Saturday 17th March 1984

Woke up at 8.15 and watched TVAM and at 8.30 I watched Godzilla. At 9.00 I watched Saturday Superstore with Colin Baker on and at 10.00 I got up. At 11.00 Doug rang and came down, and we went into Yarm.

First we got some shandy, then we had some beefburger and chips. Then we went in the library, got some sweets and went to Doug’s house. We needed some wood, so we went to my house and got some, Then we went back to Doug’s with the wheelbarrow.

We hammered the wood on the hut and I did a Poggy Doggy poster for the side. The we put on the roof, the side and the front. After that I went to my house to find some more wood, and then went back to Doug’s to tell him there was.

So we went back to my house and asked mam if Doug could sleep. She said yes so we went back to Doug’s and his mam said yes. Then we went to my house and watched Some Mothers do ave em at 6.40. Then we played on the ZX81 and at 9.10 We watched Driving Ambition. At 10.00 We went to bed and read until 10.30.

Bumper diary entry! We did SO MUCH on this day that it’s actually written up in teeny tiny handwriting that gets even smaller towards the bottom of the page before descending into a virtually microscopic scrawl.

But what a sensational day of action!

OK, Saturday Superstore did indeed feature Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant in full Doctor Who costume frantically plugging Part One of The Twin Dilemma, now five days away from transmission and I couldn’t wait because I knew it was just going to be the BEST DOCTOR WHO EVER!!!

Here’s a little snippet…

(Presumably Anthony Ainley didn’t have much on that morning, although admittedly that’s probably not a thought that you want to linger over…)

Given that my house was a mile from Yarm High Street and Doug’s house was exactly halfway between the two, I walked a grand total of five miles on this day, sorting out the food, wood and sleeping-over situations. No wonder we had to stop in Yarm for beefburger, chips and a cheeky shandy…


I remember this really well. Being out, on our own, and sorting out our own food always gave us a lovely feeling of independence, and on this day – a nice, bright, breezy Saturday afternoon – it felt as though nothing could ever go wrong in our world. We bought our takeaway din-dins from the splendidly low-rent Yarm Fisheries, and ate them on a wooden bench in a little shady alleyway that cut through the middle of the Strickland and Holt gift shop.

Here it is – the alleyway is on the left, under the ‘Central Wynd’ sign…


…nowadays the shop has extended into the posh Joe Rigatoni’s restaurant, which seals off the end of the alleyway. But back in 1984 it was completely open-ended, and trundled down to the sluggish riverbank, which had a staggering, overpowering aroma of its own when Yarm’s ancient ‘skinyard’ (basically a crumbling, tannery factory whose towering chimney dominated the skyline) was in full flow.


And we got told off on this day! Because (gasp!) we shook up our cans of Bass Shandy to make them fizz all over the pavement. With, of course, proper ring-pulls that came off and could be chucked into a ditch in their own right rather than having to remain attached to the rest of the can when you fly-tip it.    


As we did so, an angry man with a straggly moustache leaned out of a shop window and shouted ‘Oy! Jack that in! Somebody’s got to clean all that up, and I’m bloody sure it won’t be you two, will it?’

I tried to recreate the scene again today on the same wooden bench, but my otherwise iconic can of Bass Shandy let me down a bit. Carbonated water just ain’t what it used to be…

I wanted to make a slightly longer film, but there were some old ladies looking at me and I got scared.

But yay! Our hut was nearly finished. This was, of course, to be our garden hideaway from the adult world, and I don’t think I’d ever been so proud of anything. And I’d never had a friend quite like Doug before, someone that I saw almost every single day, and we ALWAYS found a new adventure to throw ourselves into. There’s something utterly lovely about sharing new experiences with a really good mate, and when you’re eleven years old, almost EVERYTHING is a new experience. Life was peachy. When I’ve finished transcribing this diary at the end of the year, my next project is to build a time machine so I can have JUST ONE single day of 1984 to live again.

I won’t bugger up the time lines, I promise. I’ll just watch us from street corners and bring back some better quality Bass Shandy.

But anyway, yes… all of this meant that it was high time Doug spent the night kipping over at my place. It was the first time either of us had stayed over at the other’s house, and it was obvious that we had to negotiate the deal using every last scrap of guile, cunning and emotional blackmail in our cynical little armouries.


So we concocted our plan over Bass Shandy and beefburgers. Saturday was, as we both knew well, shopping day for both of our mothers. So Wwen Doug came to my house ‘for the wood’, he eagerly threw himself into helping my Mum stack up tins of Presto Beans and endless bottles of Chop Sauce into our beige plastic cupboards. And when I went back to Doug’s ‘with the wheelbarrow’,  I did the same in his family kitchen.

And when it came to the crunch moment of asking our respective mothers if ‘Doug can stay over tonight’, both of them put their heads to one side and said ‘Aaaaaawwww… since you’ve been so good today, yes’.

Then we jumped up and down in with excitement in Doug’s garage shouting ‘WILLIES! WILLIES! WILLIES! WILLIES!’ and throwing empty cans of Bass Shandy into the air.

As an only child, the prospect of having a friend around to stay for the night was unbelievably exciting, and a relative rarity for me. And, despite the presence of a perfectly serviceable spare room in my Dad’s (oh yes) haunted extension, it was important that we both camped down together in my room. So I slept on a lurid, 1970s flowery folding bed on the floor (although I’m still not sure what type of flower has blue, fawn and orange petals with a slight flare at the end) and Doug crashed out under the tatty yellow blanket on my bed.


And did we ‘read until 10.30’? Did we bollocks. That’s for the benefit of my mother. We stayed awake until midnight, talking about filth in the darkness, pulling funny faces into the light of a Pifco torch, farting out loud and… well, being eleven years old.

Oh, and writing yesterday’s diary entry, of course. Doug laughed out loud at the line about the toilet.



  fiona tims wrote @

I’m thinking you need to amend your title from Friday to Saturday ;p
I was confused about Saturday SUperstore being on a Friday!

Isn’t Shandy alcoholic? How do they sell it to kids?

  bobfischer wrote @

Ooops! Done. 🙂

Doesn’t Shandy have a thimble’s worth of beer in every can? Although naturally, when you’re eleven, you drink two cans of the stuff and convince yourself you’re absolutely slaughtered.

‘Shorry Dad, been shinking a few beersh all afternoon… that Bash Shandy’sh a shenshashun…’

  Andrew T. Smith wrote @

RE: Time Machine

Maybe one day, many years in the future, you will achieve your dream of travelling back to Saturday 17th March 1984 BUT by that point in your life you will have grown old and will also sport a straggly moustache. Yes, I propose that the strange old man who leaned out the window to shout at you and Doug was, in fact, you!

  Chris Orton wrote @

Bass used to do a Shandy Pilsner too.

Did Top Deck do a shandy?

  bobfischer wrote @

CRIKEY! You’re right, Mr Smith. It’s a temporal paradox! Good job ‘he’ didn’t try to touch me, otherwise…

a) my Dad would have killed him, thus putting a new twist on the classic ‘grandfather paradox’.

b) the Blinovitch Limitation Effect would have come into play and destroyed the very fabric of the Universe.

Of course, I like to think that the ‘future’ time-travelling version of me is the hunky lifeguard at Thornaby Baths, all rippling muscles and tight trunks. I have all that to look forward to.

  bobfischer wrote @

Top Deck definitely did a shandy – I looked to see if I could find one yesterday! No sign, though. In fact it took a bit of doing to find that Bass Shandy – is it dying out a bit?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: