Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 84

Saturday 24th March 1984

Woke up at 7.30 and got up at 8.00. Got the 8.20 Bus into Middlesbrough. First I went in Smiths and got two Dr Who books – Kinda and the space war. Then I got some jeans from BHS, some socks and a sweater from Binns.

Then I went to Grandma’s and I started to read Kinda, But had a bacon sandwhich, and after that I finished Kinda. We came back to my house at 1.30 and I found a pound note on the bus. Arrived home at 2.30 and rang Doug but he was out so I played on the ZX81. Played on that till about 5.00 and at 5.14 We had tea.

At 5.45 we and mam took Poggy Doggy for a walk round the estate, and came out near the bridge. Came home at 7.00 and played on the videopac, and then I played on the ZX81. After that I typed some of my story and at 8.40 I watched Driving Ambition.

Then I typed some more and turned the clocks forward. 11.00 went to bed.

Wow! By my 1984 standards, this is a shopping spree of Paris Hilton proportions. I was, obviously, preparing meticulously for my week away with the school at Carlton Outdoor Education Centre, so it was important that I had some new jeans, some spare socks, a warm sweater and… erm, some new Doctor Who memorabilia.


OK, let’s get the books out of the way… Kinda was (and is) one of my favourite Doctor Who stories, with Peter Davison’s Doctor lost in the paradise-like jungle of Deva Loka with Nerys Hughes, Richard Todd and Simon ‘Jack Meadows from The Bill’ Rouse. It’s a rich, intelligent story that touches on themes of Buddhism, environmentalism and mental illness, although back in 1984 I mainly liked it because of the big monster snake that got knacked by a load of mirrors at the end.


And ‘The Space War’ was a retitled adaptation of the Jon Pertwee adventure ‘Frontier In Space’, with Daleks, Draconians and The Master all running riot around the universe. It’s good fun, and I’d read it in its hardback version, obtained from a visit to the musty wilderness of Acklam Library on a weekend visit to my Gran’s a couple of years earlier.

‘That one was great!’ I’d thought. ‘I’ll buy the paperback so I can read it again’. 25 years later, I still haven’t… it’s completely untouched in a box in the loft. I’ll get round to it one day.  

This seems incredible for an 11-year-old in 1984, but I think the pair of jeans I bought on this day were the first I ever owned. We were never a big ‘jeans’ family. My parents never wore them, and I used to slop around in an array of straight-legged black trousers from British Home Stores that did equally for school, home and arsing about in the streets and fields and woods.

I think Doug’s streetwise influence was having a healthy effect on me, though. Although I’m not sure if this was the day when I went succumbed completely to mid-Eighties sartorial madness and bought several pairs of these…


…Yes, the dreaded luminous socks, whose presence was spreading like blinding, Terry Towelling wildfire around Levendale Primary School. And they were, of course, only entirely effective if you wore them in ‘odd’ combinations, with green on the left foot and yell0w on the right being a particular favourite.

(Although even we never believed Christopher Herbert when he tried to tell us that sock combinations were, like earring formations, an unmistakeable clue to the bearer’s sexual preferences.  Did that really happen with earrings? It was, of course, ‘common knowledge’ when I was a kid that any man wearing an earring in his right ear was clearly fond of the company of other gentlemen, and would have to be physically restrained from dressing like Boy George and being called a ‘Gender Bender’ by the Evening Gazette. Mmmmmm, RIGHT…)

And yay, a POUND NOTE! Fantastic… for those too young to remember, they looked like this…


It actually makes me feel a bit giddy to see those, like seeing an old friend completely unchanged after many decades apart. It’s weird. And by jove, these things WERE my friends. The pound note was pretty much on its last legs by this stage – the £1 coin had been around for almost a year, and the notes were being gradually phased out – but they remained legal tender until 1988.


It’s funny how little bits come back to me as I read these diaries, and as soon as I read the line about the pound notes, I remembered that my Mum and I spent the bus journey talking to an elderly gent with the splendidly grandiose name of Les Honeyman. He was a softly-spoken chap who lived a few houses away from us, and was permanently clad in horn-rimmed glasses, a trilby and an overcoat. A dead ringer, in fact, for Alec Guinness in Smiley’s People. 


I found the pound note about five seconds after he’d left the bus at the previous stop to us, and I remember feeling a little bit guilty that it might have been his. Didn’t stop me pocketing it, of course.  And I loved the feel of having three or four pound notes scrunched up in my trouser pocket, all ready to be spent on Star Wars or Doctor Who-related loveliness. Mmmmmmmm…

‘The bridge’ that we emerged from with Poggy Doggy is a little hump-backed stone thing five minutes walk from my current location, and now the site for the busy Yarm Railway Station – although in 1984 it was just in the middle of a quiet road alongside a field of swaying crops.

And they call that progress…  (actually it is, because the station’s really handy for me). No doubt I’ll have been ‘breaking in’ my new jeans, and will have spent the entire walk stomping around Yarm’s estates like I’d soiled myself. Which, whenever I thought about my impending week at Carlton, I was more than inclined to actually do.

Still, clocks forward! Always exciting, because it meant I got to stay up late without actually putting the effort in. British Summer Time 1984, here we come…


  Chris Orton wrote @

Good grief – pound notes! I remember them well – mainly from getting them in birthday cards from people who didn’t want to give you a fiver. I shouldn’t complain as, at the risk of sounding like my Dad, you could get all sorts of stuff with a quid back then. You could buy a bag of crisps for 10p for goodness sake! And when you only got 50p a week pocket money, a pound note wasn’t to be sniffed at really.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’ve been trying to rack my brains about pocket money! I think in 1984 I was on about £1 a week, although if I wanted a book then my parents seemed to take the philosophy that they’d always stretch to get me it, even if I couldn’t quite afford it myself. I think they just wanted me to read, although stuff like Star Wars figures and Bounty Bars I had to buy myself.

Finding money in the street was always a great thrill, though. I remember Doug and I finding 1p in the gutter once, and going to the VG Shop to buy two Half Penny chews!

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