Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 79

Monday 19th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school I went into assembly and when we came out it was Topic groups, and we had to take notes down about Tenerife. Then when we came out I did some writing on Tenerife. At 12.00 I had dinner and after dinner we went into Maths groups.

Then we came out and me and Pond’s Eye started some fractions, but  I went into Topic group again and didn’t get it finished. At 3.15 I came home and at 3.30 I went to Doug’s. Met him half way.

At his house we played on the Walkie Talkies and in the hut. At 5.15 I came home and brought a Walkie talkie to radio Doug from house to house. At 5.20 I had tea and at 5.30 I picked Doug up on the WT. Then I read my Beano and generally mucked about and at 8.00 I watched Points of view. At 8.10 I watched Duty Free and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Yikes! Further proof, as if any were required, that our so-called ‘Topic’ groups were merely an excuse for Mr Hirst and Mrs Keasey to have us researching their potential summer holidays (not spent together, I should probably stress). ‘We had to take notes down about Tenerife’!!! For crying out loud, it’s a slippery slope from this to testing Presto’s own brand Sun Cream with a bunsen burner and using long multiplication to calculate the most cost-effective brand of Sangria (Walter Wilson’s, in case you were wondering).


I never went on holiday as kid. I think my Mum and Gran attempted to take me to Scarborough for a week in 1976, and I cried so much that they gave it up as a bad job and brought me home after three days.  It’s an attitude towards ‘getting away from it all’ that I’ve never quite shaken off. I hate going on holiday, I get bored after about eight hours and start looking for Wi-Fi connections. It’s probably hereditary: my Dad is exactly the same, and as such my childhood excursions were limited to day trips to York, High Force waterfall and Lightwater Valley.

So let’s take this further opportunity to emphasise how utterly terrified I was by the prospect of going to Carlton Outdoor Education Centre for a week at the end of March 1984… and it wasn’t ALL down to the Ghost of the Grey Lady.

Although I’ll shamelessly plug ahead and reveal that myself and one of my Levendale Primary School contemporaries spent a full day last weekend tramping around the moors and making TEN (yes TEN) ‘Then and Now’ films to parade on this website when the time comes. Yay!

Tantalising eh? (You can say ‘no’ if you like,  I won’t be offended).


In the meantime,  Walkie Talkies! I’d forgotten all about them. They were Doug’s, and I think they’d been lying disused in a box under his bed since some long-distant birthday party. We used to spend the occasional afternoon ‘mucking about’ in Doug’s bedroom, which was a little cubby hole with a single bed pushed up against the wall. Four things that intrigued me about Doug’s bedroom…

1. He had a Spiderman duvet. I wasn’t intrigued by Spiderman (the webby little bugger was everywhere in 1984) but I’d never had much experience of duvets before. Our beds at home still consisted of a nylon sheet on top of the bed, another nylon sheet on top of this (and you inserted yourself between the two), a fuzzy nylon blanket with a lovely, soft-feeling cool polyester strip across the top that I loved to rub across my face, and a blue or yellow nylon bedspread.

Our house generated so much static electricity at bedtime that Poggy Doggy was frequently able to float downstairs for a drink.

2. He didn’t have any wallpaper. His smooth, shiny walls had been tastefully plastered and painted over with a thin layer of Adriatic Cyan by Crown Paints. I’d never seen this before, as there wasn’t a single inch of our house that wasn’t coated in Vymura blown vinyl and smothered in Magnolia Emulsion. I asked my Dad if I could have the same effect in my bedroom, to which he replied ‘You must be joking, this bloody house has got walls like Wookey Hole’.

3. He had a hand-held Donkey Kong machine on his bedside table. He’d bought it in a stopover at Singapore Airport on the way to visit his Mum’s family in Australia, and could get to Level 7 without losing a life. I thought this was the singularly most exotic and impressive thing I’d ever heard. Especially the bit about Level 7, as the end of Level 6 was an absolute bugger.  

I’m amazed to say I’ve found a brilliant picture of the exact thing that Doug had! This was it…


4. The Walkie Talkies. I bet you thought we’d never get there.  

These were very much toys rather than anything you could actually practically USE to keep in touch with each other, but they did just about work. They were leightweight bits of plastic with a wobbly aerial on the top and a big orange button on the side, but with the addition of a couple of HP11 batteries, it was possible to hear distant, crackly, distorted versions of each others voices. Imagine the teachers voices from Charlie Brown. Over the phone. And then routed through a faulty baby alarm. With a low battery. 

Although their range was so short that it was usually much easier and more effective just to shout to each other…

Still, it didn’t stop us concocting an Important Scientific Experiment. I took one of the Walkie Talkies home with me, and we agreed that at exactly 5.30pm (just after tea) I would lean out of my bedroom window and begin shouting the strange, secretly coded signal of ‘OBBLEDEEEEE’ (done in a weird, high-pitched voice – no, me neither) repeatedly into my Walkie Talkie while Doug set out from his house half a mile away and walked slowly towards mine until he picked up the signal. 

And it worked! I still remember the utter thrill when, after a few minutes, a distorted version of Doug’s dulcet tones (Imagine the teachers voices from Charlie Brown. Over the phone. And then… etc) came crackling out of my tiny speaker. It only lasted a few seconds, but I was jumping around with excitement. I felt like Alexander Graham Bell speaking to Thomas Watson, although they probably had a better signal than we did.

Of course,  I had no idea how close Doug had got before picking up my ‘OBBLEDEEEEE’s, that revelation would have to wait until school the following morning.

Consider that a cliffhanger… dot… dot… dot…



  Thing wrote @

I could never understand how the kids in Charlie Brown could translate what their teachers were saying.

  bobfischer wrote @

I always though of it as a Han Solo/Chewbacca thing… it sounded like rubbish to us, but HE knew what it meant.

Unless Chewbecca WAS just making random grunts and growls, and Han was making it all up. I do that with my dog quite a lot now.


‘What’s that, you want me to keep you in the kitchen and never walk you again?’


‘And you don’t want any dinner tonight? Right, I’ll make a note of that…’

I am an evil daddy.

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